The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Tag Archives: Moldova

How to throw a party for a bunch of global nomads

One year has passed since our first random nomad, Anita McKay, crashed through the gates of The Displaced Nation, bribing the guards with chicken tikka masala and cranachan and shouting “bollocks” at several of us who tried to stop and question her.

And now there are 40 such nomads within our ranks — the latest being Annabel Kantaria, who insisted on bringing an alarm clock that looks like a miniature mosque — it rings every morning with the call to prayer. (Note to other founders: perhaps we need to find guards who aren’t so easily intimidated when travelers show a bit of temerity…)

Still, as we now have 40 nomads, randomly selected, why not make the best of the situation and throw a party? And what better excuse than The Displaced Nation’s 1st birthday — which, as announced by Kate Allison in a post a couple of days ago, took place on April 1 (no fooling!).

Further to that end, I’ve come up with a Party Primer that I think should work for this group — as well as for similar gatherings.

PARTY PRIMER FOR DISPLACED NOMADS

Click on the headlines below to go to each section:

  1. INVITATIONS
  2. DRESS CODE
  3. DECORATIONS
  4. MUSIC
  5. TABLE ASSIGNMENTS
  6. FOOD
  7. TOPICS FOR SMALL TALK
  8. PHOTOGRAPHY
  9. GAMES
  10. SONGS

INVITATIONS

As this party marks a special occasion (who ever thought we’d make it to be one year old?), a deluxe printed invitation is in order. The only thing is, our invitees are a bunch of nomads! We’ll be lucky if we can catch them on email, let alone at a fixed address. Let’s compromise on an attractively designed message: see mock-up at top of this page.

DRESS CODE

As some of you may know, Cleopatra recently paid a visit to The Displaced Nation. Based on her observations of today’s international travelers, we’ll be doing well if we can get the men to shower and change before joining us. As for the women, well, allow me to offer these pearls of wisdom from Jennifer Scott — the American guru of Parisian chic who was featured on this blog last week. Jennifer says:

There are certain occasions that always warrant dressing up. Generally any gathering … where others went to a lot of effort for your sake.

DECORATIONS

The theme is easy: the wide wide world! (Rather the opposite of Disney’s “It’s a small world after all” concept.) This calls for tablecloths imprinted with the world map (to make it easy for guests to point out where exactly “Moldova” etc is); globe-patterned balloons (can we coin a new term: globalloons?); and for the centerpieces, flags from each of the adopted country represented at the table in question.

Optional extras include party hats, noisemakers and loot bags. It’s fun when the loot contains some surprises. Given all the items our nomads have insisted upon carrying into The Displaced Nation, we should have plenty to choose from, eg:

  • mosque alarm clocks (thanks, Annabel!)
  • hairy coo fluffy toys (thanks, Nerissa!)
  • fake Harry Potter glasses (thanks, Charlotte!)
  • boomerangs (thanks, Kim & Vicki!)
  • brie bakers (thanks, Toni!)

MUSIC

As Todd Lyon, author of a number of party and lifestyle books, puts it:

Without music, a party isn’t a party. It might be an assembly, a meeting, or a bee, but it can never be a shindig, a bust-up or a ball unless there’s fine tunes that never stop.

Not being a party tunes buff myself, I’ve consulted with The Displaced Nation’s resident music expert, Kate Allison, about the kind of soundtrack that would cultivate just the right ambience. Her suggestions include:

Everybody all around the world, gotta tell you what I just heard
There’s gonna be a party all over the world…

TABLE ASSIGNMENTS

8-10 person tables work well. Since we’ll have 40 guests, I’ve decided on five tables of eight people each, and to mix everyone up as much as possible. Hostesses must also, of course, take steps to reduce the risk of a “silent table,” where people just eat and don’t talk. To be honest, I don’t there is too much risk of that with this crowd — have you ever watched a bunch of expats try to outdo each other with stories of their (cross-cultural, linguistic and travel) adventures? But just in case, I’m offering some “hostess notes” for each table (the hostess’s job being to introduce everyone and make sure the conversation keeps flowing!).

TABLE 1
Matthew Chozick (American expat in Japan)
Tom Frost (American expat in China)
Lyn Fuchs (American expat in Mexico — Sacred Ground Travel Magazine)
Turner Jansen (American canine in Holland)
Annabel Kantaria (English expat in Dubai — Telegraph Expat blog)
Kirsty Rice (Australian expat in Qatar — 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle)
Jack Scott (English expat in Turkey — Perking the Pansies)
Karen van der Zee (Dutch/American expat in Moldova — Life in the Expat Lane)
Hostess notes: Introduce Tom Frost to Matthew Chozick — Tom used to live in Japan and speaks Japanese. Kirsty Rice should sit next to Turner Jansen, as she travels around with a beagle. Annabel Kantaria, Jack Scott and Kirsty all have in common life in the Middle East. Karen van der Zee and and Lyn Fuchs should find each other fascinating, as both have had some extraordinary adventures (Karen could entertain Lyn with her crocodile tale and Lyn, keep Karen amused talking about the time he went paddling with orcas.)

TABLE 2
Balaka Basu (Indian American in New York City)
Santi Dharmaputra (Indonesian expat in Australia)
Michelle Garrett (American expat in UK — The American Resident)
Robin Graham (Irish expat in Spain — a lot of wind)
Anita McKay (Indonesian expat in Australia — Finally Woken)
Brian Peter (Scottish expat in Brazil — A Kilt and a Camera)
Kate Reuterswärd (American expat in Sweden — Transatlantic Sketches)
Wendy Tokunaga (Former American expat in Japan)
Hostess notes: You might want to break up Santi Dharmaputra and Anita McKay, who are the same nationality (Indonesian) and already friends. Anita should definitely be introduced to Brian Peter, who like her hubby, is Scottish, and will probably be amused by her stories of toasting oatmeal in whisky. And make sure Anita also talks to Wendy Tokunaga — I know from personal experience how intrigued Anita is by stories of Western woman marrying Asian men. To be honest, everyone at this table should really be socializing with everyone else, as each and every one of them has a partner of a different nationality! (Now if that isn’t a talking point, I don’t know what is…)

TABLE 3
Kim Andreasson (Swedish expat in Vietnam)
Jo Gan (American expat in China– Life behind the wall)
Jennifer Greco (American expat in France — Chez Loulou)
David Hagerman (American expat in Malaysia — SkyBlueSky)
Helena Halme (Finnish expat in UK — Helena’s London Life)
Vicki Jeffels (Kiwi expat in UK — Vegemite Vix)
Janet Newenham (Irish internationalist — Journalist on the run)
Adria Schmidt (former Peace Corps worker in the Dominican Republic)
Hostess notes: Seat David Hagerman next to Jennifer Greco — since his wife is a well-known food writer and expert cook, he’ll find nothing strange in her quest to sample all the known French cheeses. Janet Newenham should be near Adria Schmidt and Kim Andreasson as they are all interested in international affairs. Vicki should be introduced to Helena as I’m sure the latter would love to hear about her recent spa experience in Cyprus. Jo Gan, too, should meet Vicki as she is now experiencing visa problems with the Chinese authorities — on a level that may even surpass Vicki’s own nightmare experience in Britain.

TABLE 4
Aaron Ausland (American expat in Colombia — Staying for Tea)
Emily Cannell (American expat in Japan — Hey from Japan)
Charlotte Day (Australian expat in UK)
Toni Hargis (English expat in USA — Expat Mum)
Vilma Ilic (Former aid worker in Uganda)
Jennifer Lentfer (Former American expat in Africa — How Matters)
Camden Luxford (Australian expat in Argentina — The Brink of Something Else)
Piglet in Portugal (English expat in Portugal — Piglet in Portugal)
Hostess notes: Aaron Ausland will naturally gravitate towards Jennifer Lentfer as they are both deeply involved in global aid and development. Make sure you introduce the pair of them to Piglet in Portugal — she’ll ask them some thought-provoking questions about whether it’s better to save the world or cultivate your own garden. Jennifer should also be near Vilma as the two will want to share their Africa experiences, and you might urge Emily Cannell to join that conversation as well — she has such an adventuresome spirit! Along with Toni Hargis, who runs her own charity supporting a school in Ghana. As for Camden Luxford, she’s an easy one: a social butterfly! Perhaps she could take fellow Aussie Charlotte Day under her wing (ha ha) and make sure she gets plenty of material to write about for her courses at Oxford next year!

TABLE 5
Lei Lei Clavey (Australian expat in New York City)
Matt Collin (American expat in UK)
Megan Farrell (American expat in Brazil — Born Again Brazilian)
Liv Hambrett (Australian expat in Germany — A Big Life)
Mardi Michels (Australian expat in Canada — eat. live. travel. write | culinary adventures, near and far)
Iain Mallory (English adventurer — Mallory on Travel | Making Everyday an Adventure)
Nerissa Muijs (Australian expat in Holland — Adventures in Integration)
Simon Wheeler (English expat in Slovakia — Rambling Thoughts of Moon)
Hostess notes: As soon as Lei Lei Clavey, Liv Hambrett, Mardi Michels and Nerissa Muijs discover they all have Australia in common, they will be blabbing away — just hope it doesn’t turn into an Ozfest! Also, make sure Mardi connects with Matt — I suspect he may need her counseling about how to seek creative refuge from academia. Iain Mallory and Simon Wheeler will form a natural pair, exchanging stories of their travel adventures and perhaps even breaking into a rousing chorus of “Jerusalem.” But should their antics get too raucous, ask Mardi to step in: she teaches cooking classes to 9-11-year-old boys in Canada. Megan Farrell should connect with Nerissa and Simon on the topic of what it’s like to raise a child in a nationality (and language) other than your own.

FOOD

One of the purposes of gathering together nomads from the four corners of the earth has to be eating, especially if each of them brings along some of their favorite dishes. For our party, we will have a dazzling tableaux brimming over with rare and exotic foods. (We know that because our Random Nomads have already described their faves to us in their interviews.)

Shall we go over the list? (Warning: Don’t read on an empty stomach, or if on a restricted diet!)

NIBBLES/STARTERS

  • Guacamole & chips (Kim — recipe provided)
  • Selection of mezze with pita bread (Annabel Kantaria)
  • Assorted pinchos (Megan Farrell)
  • Avocado & mango salad (Matt Collin)
  • Bhelpuri (Tom Frost)
  • Satay sticks (Nerissa Muijs)
  • Four kinds of eggs: tea eggs, thousand-year-old eggs, fried eggs with tomato, and boiled salted eggs with a chicken embryo inside (Jo Gan)
  • Shrimp & grits (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Vietnamese caramelized chili prawns (Mardi)
  • Ceviche (Camden Luxford)
  • Bluff oysters from New Zealand (Vicki Jeffels)
  • Gravad lax with Finnish rye bread (Helena Halme)
  • Tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce (Emily Cannell)

COCKTAILS

  • Traditional Bloody Marys (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Caipirinhas (Megan Farrell)
  • Margaritas (Kirsty Rice)

WINE

  • Rich red wines from Lebanon (Annabel K)
  • Red wine from Macedonia (Vilma Ilic)
  • Malbec wine from Argentina (Camden Luxford)
  • Shiraz from Australia (Vicki Jeffels)
  • White wine from Australia (Simon Wheeler)
  • Chilled sake (Tom Frost)
  • Rice wine (Jo Gan)

BEER

  • Carlsberg browns (Matt Collin)
  • Cusqueña beer (Camden Luxford)
  • Mexican Pacifico (Tom Frost)
  • Harbin beer (Jo Gan)
  • Coopers beer (Simon Wheeler)

MAINS
Meat dishes:

  • Carne de Porco a Alentejana (Piglet in Portugal)
  • Schnitzel served with rotkohl (Liv Hambrett)
  • Bondiola-chevre-basil wraps and nattō (Tom Frost)
  • Fried chicken sandwiches with hand-cut fries (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Chicken tikka masala (Anita McKay)
  • Libyan soup (Kirsty Rice — recipe provided)
  • Cuban ropa vieja (Mardi)
  • Argentinian steak cooked rare (Camden Luxford)
  • Tapola black sausage with lingonberry jam (Helena Halme)
  • Barbecued steak, snags & lamb chops (Nerissa Muijs)

Fish dishes:

  • Paella Valenciana (Megan Farrell)
  • Llish in mustard and chili paste, smoked in banana leaves (Balaka Basu)
  • Chambo curry with nsima (Matt Collin)
  • Moreton Bay bugs (Vicki Jeffels)
  • Grilled salmon on a plank (Emily Cannell)
  • Sushi (Simon Wheeler)

Vegetarian offerings:

  • Peanut butter vegetable stew (Jennifer Lentfer)
  • Overcooked spaghetti with carnation milk, canned tomatoes and corn (Adria Schmidt)

DESSERTS

  • Summer pudding (Toni Hargis)
  • Apple crumble (Matt Collin)
  • Cranachan (Anita McKay)
  • Hot fudge sundaes (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Blackberry gelato (Balaka Basu)
  • Caramel cheesecake (Kirsty Rice)
  • Bread pudding with Bourbon sauce (Jennifer Greco)
  • Île flottante (Mardi)
  • Molotof cake (Piglet in Portugal)
  • Mouse de maracujá (Megan Farrell)
  • Tiramisu (Camden Luxford)
  • Homemade Slovakian cream cakes (Simon Wheeler)
  • Dutch waffles (Turner Jansen)
  • Oblande, tulumbe, kadaif & krempite (Vilma Ilic)
  • Umm Ali (Annabel Kantaria)
  • Sigara borek (Jack Scott)
  • Juustoleipä with fresh cloudberries and cream (Helena Halme)
  • Yangmei fruit (Jo Gan)
  • Languedoc cheese: Roquefort, Pélardon and Tomette des Corbières (Jennifer Greco)

AFTER-DINNER DRINKS

  • Chlicanos (Camden Luxford)
  • Rakija (Vilma Ilic)
  • Fernet (Tom Frost)
  • Homemade Slivovica (Simon Wheeler)
  • Dragon-wall green tea (Jo Gan)
  • Espresso (Balaku Basu)
  • Large “flat whites” (Charlotte Day)

FOR THE TOAST(S):
New Zealand champenoise (Vicki Jeffels)

NOTE: Charlotte Day will be cooking a Sydney-style breakfast for diehards who care to linger to the next morning. (And Nerissa Muijs will be frying up some bacon!)

TOPICS FOR SMALL TALK

There are some topics that should be avoided at all costs. As style writer Rita Konig puts it,

It is very dull to talk about journeys. Once you have arrived somewhere, try to keep quiet about how long it took you to get there.

Should you notice anyone engaging in this, put the kibosh on it by asking them to help with pouring drinks, or with putting away coats in the spare room.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Fortunately, there’s usually one great photographer or two in a group of global nomads, thereby saving unnecessary expenditure. (We will ask David Hagerman — he’s sensational!)

GAMES

Games are a great ice breaker. Here are a few that might be appropriate for a well-traveled crowd:
1) Musical countries: Draw a big map on a piece of vinyl (back of a Twister mat might do), and give everyone a flagpole. When the music stops, they must place the flagpole on a country, Anyone whose flagpole ends up in the ocean is out.

2) Variation on “Pin the Donkey”: Pin the rudder on the 747! (Contributed by Kate Allison.)

3) Word games: As we’ve found out from our interviews, global nomads pick up words and expressions from here and there. Taking some of these and mixing them together, we can come up with some pretty strange exchanges. (Prizes for anyone who manages to decipher!)

A: Prego, could you get me a ba ba ba? Kippis!
B: Inshallah, a barbie would also be awesome. And how about la ziq?
A: Avustralyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınızcasına.
B: So desu ne!

A: Tudo bem? You look a bit daggy.
B: Life can be arbit sometimes.
A: Zvakaoma.

A: Hey.
B: Hey. Das stimmt, sorry to be such a Debbie Downer but I’m knackered after all this work.
A: Bless!
B: Zikomo.

A: Oh la vache! You are lost. Siga, siga. Ni chifan le ma?
B: Bollocks! [Sucking air through gritted teeth.] I think I got lost in the wopwops.
A: Well, there’s the big ol’ tree out the front.
B: Bula! Okay-la. Le bon ton roule!

TOASTS

Toasts should be made repeatedly throughout the latter half of the dinner. Just in case no one feels inspired, prepare one or two classics for the host or hostess to offer, eg:

I’d rather be with all of you than with the finest people in the world.

SONGS

Songs can be sung in several languages. In this case, a stirring rendition of “Happy Birthday” is called for, sung not only in English but in:
Dutch (Karen, Nerissa)
Finnish (Helena)
French (Jennifer, Mardi)
Indonesian (Anita & Santi)
Japanese (Emily, Matthew, Tom, Wendy)
Spanish (Aaron, Adria, Camden, Lyn, Megan, Robin)
Swedish (Kate, Kim)
Woof-woof (Turner)

Finally, the party should end with the Displaced Nation founders treating the guests to a round of:

For you are all jolly good fellows, for you are all jolly good fellows,
For you are all jolly good fellows…
Kate, Anthony, Tony: And so say all of us!
ML: Which nobody can deny!

* * *
Have I left out any important details? Any tweaks you can suggest? Your turn!!! Let’s work together to make this the most awesome gathering of global nomads ever. Onegaishimasu, shokran — and all that!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s installment from our displaced fictional heroine, Libby. She is expecting a visitor: her own mother, who is — in theory — coming to help as her due date gets closer. Will Granny Jane be an improvement on Sandra, the MIL from hell — or will she prove to be one more spanner in the works for our poor displaced heroine? (What, not keeping up with Libby? Read the first three episodes of her expat adventures.)

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12 NOMADS OF CHRISTMAS: Karen van der Zee, Dutch/American expat in Moldova (8/12)

Current home: Chișinău, Moldova
Past overseas locations: Kenya, Ghana, Indonesia, Palestine, Ghana (again), Armenia, Moldova. (For years I was also an expat in the USA, my husband’s home country, and have dual — Dutch and American — citizenship.)
Cyberspace coordinates: Life in the Expat Lane — Foreign Fun in Exotic Places (blog) and @missfootloose (Twitter handle)
Recent posts: “Life Abroad: Of Red Undies, Sugary Pigs, and Freezing Waters” (December 31, 2011); “Expat Foodie: What to Do with Goose Fat?” (December 27, 2011); “Expat Life: Holiday Greetings from Afar” (December 26, 2011)

Where are you spending the holidays this year?
In Moldova. It will be the first time ever that my husband and I will not be spending it with the rest of our family.

What do you most like doing during the holidays?
Besides spending time with family, I enjoy decorating and cooking. This year I will cook dinner for expat friends who are also not going home. We can cry on each other’s shoulders, or perhaps just have a good time.

Will you be on or offline?
The computer will be on. We may be able to Skype.

Are you sending any cards?
I send only a few snailmail paper cards. Mostly I write short personal emails, using in part a few paragraphs of prepared text, but no newsletters. Newsletters never seem to quite fit for everybody the same way.

What’s the thing you most look forward to eating?
I wish I had something exotic to tell you about here, but actually, I just love having a good Christmas dinner and some decadent dessert. Normally I don’t eat much sugary food.

Can you recommend any good books other expats or “internationals” might enjoy?
Two works of nonfiction:

1) The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa, by Douglas Rogers (Crown, 2009): A tragic-comic account of the author’s (white) parents’ life in Zimbabwe in the last 15 years and the trials and tribulations of running and holding on to their resort while all around them farms of white owners are being stolen and the country is falling apart. Great read.

2) Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris, by Sarah Turnbull (Gotham, 2003): An Australian journalist falls in love with a Frenchman, moves to Paris, and culture shock ensues. I always enjoy culture shock stories, and Paris is a great setting for culture shock.

And one novel:

Finding Nouf, by Zoë Ferraris (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008): A murder mystery set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with Saudi Arabian characters. I love this book because it offers an intimate look into the culture and lives of men and women in the very closed society of the Kingdom. Fascinating.

If you could travel anywhere for the holidays, where would it be?
I must be a terrible bore, but spending the holidays anonymously with strangers in some exotic place doesn’t appeal to me. However, I would love to live in the highlands of Bali!

What famous person do you think it would be fun to spend New Year’s Eve with?
What a fun question! Let me think. How about New Year’s Eve with Whoopi Goldberg? Why? Well, she’s unconventional, creative, fun, and loves to hang loose. What else do you need in a person to have some fun?

What’s been your most displaced holiday experience?
When we lived in Indonesia with our two young daughters. It was difficult to create a Christmas atmosphere in the sweltering tropics because we were used to a cold Christmas in the northern hemisphere. The year after that, while still living in Indonesia, we visited friends in Australia over the holidays. It was better, but still, it was summer there. It just wasn’t quite right!

How about the least displaced experience — when you’ve felt the true joy of the season?
I honestly cannot pick just one. I’ve had so many Christmasses and they’ve always been good one way or another.

How do you feel when the holidays are over?
Usually it’s a bit of a drag to take down the tree and pack up all the decorations and the house looks so bare and boring, but then I get busy and get on with life. I do not go into a major funk or depression, fortunately.

In the past, we would be returning from the US to wherever we were living, in the tropics or elsewhere, and that sort of took care of the transition to normal life.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me:
EIGHT WHOOPHIS WHOOPING,
SEVEN SKIERS A-PARTYING,
SIX SPOUSES TRAILING,
FIVE GOOOOOOOFY EXPATS.
FOUR ENGLISH CHEESES,
THREE DECENT WHISKIES,
TWO CANDY BOXES,
& AN IRISHMAN IN A PALM TREE!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s featured nomad (9/12) in our 12 Nomads of Christmas series.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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