Less than two weeks and I’m off to London for girl’s weekend trip. This would be an interesting meet-up because I only know Nikki who’s originally from here but now resides in Assen, and will be meeting others from Assen and one from Oman! So we could call it an international girl’s trip with jam-packed schedule of shopping, drinking and dining, everything that screams expensive and posh. We would be having dinner at The Ivy – a place that guarantees celebrities’ exposure so who knows you’d see my picture on the next edition of OK! or Hello grinning next to Madonna – and Bambou, and drinks at The Soho and Purple Bar. Those places must be booked waaaay in advanced (I think even I am not allowed to enter Purple Bar unless invited by guest who stays there, that’s how snobbish posh they are!).

But before that, I had to be a host for this month’s arisan, and this is why I got pissed off on Friday.

Arisan (a-ree-san) is a monthly social gathering between friends and relatives who chip in money to be won in turns through a lucky draw. The one that I am involved at the moment is my very first participation on such event. It’s initialised by some Indonesian ladies who live in Aberdeen as a way of meeting others, share gossips, and (I think, most importantly to many of them), try out Indonesian food. At first I joined with such a high spirit because it’s a useful for me to meet other people and expand my network.

The such gathering usually takes place at the member’s house. It has an unwritten rule that whoever wins the draw will be the host for the next month. The winner is expected to provide some meals too, even though usually everybody will turn up with something and we’d have a big selection of everything.

I did win last month draw, so inevitably, consequently, I would be the host for this month. I have given a heads up that I would be away to London at the end of the month so we need to do it beforehand. I have also mentioned that since our place is not suitable for young mothers who will bring buggies (prams/strollers) and their children (our place is on the third floor), I will host it in Stuart’s grandma’s place, who’s more than delighted with the prospect of a bunch little people running around her house. She also has a huge back garden so children can investigate the nature. She even promises to make us some of her famous pancakes. I came up with 17th as the date and sent the information to several members whose numbers I’ve got.

The replies came that several of them are still back in Indonesia for holiday, so they will miss the event. Some will be away for midterm school holiday, so they wonder if we could do it before 17th. And some said they’re not comfortable with the venue suggestion. Some suggested to meet up in town (although when I said that grandma’s place is right in the city center, 5 minutes walk and we’d reach Union Street, no one responded). One suggested her place instead, but I think since I’m the host, I should take the responsibility to provide it this time.

No matter hard I assured them, that the Gran is not a scary old woman carrying broomstick all around the house chasing shadow, or a grumpy old lady who will be annoyed by the noise we would make, that she would enjoy having lots of people around her, apparently, they already judged that the place, even though none of them have ever set their foot in it let alone meet the Gran, makes them uncomfortable. They will never understand that she’d probably sit down in the middle of us and enjoy the whole scene (she’s like the female version of Don Corleone) and that she will have a great time questioning each of them (and will remember every detail more than I would!). If you see the picture, it was the Gran last year in Italy. She was 93 in the picture (she just celebrated her 94th birthday in June), complete with trendy sunglasses and borrowed Poggio. Tell me if you ever meet a 94-year-old woman who could work on the computer, reads emails regularly, and does webcam chatting? Yeah, the Gran kicks a**, but she’s also very sweet and funny, and there is no reason for these young Indonesian ladies to be afraid of her unless they’re drug smugglers. But they still say no.

So with the disagreement over the date and the venue, I gave in, and suggested to move it earlier to next Tuesday and I also suggested the place, Woodbank. The place is a recreational centre, owned and run by a large oil & gas company for its staffs and families, but is open for public as well for the hotel and cafe/restaurant parts. It’s not far from the city center, it’s quiet so we can have our own privacy and less likely to be kicked out if we only order one cup of coffee for the entire afternoon, it has an outdoor playground for children, so I think the place is perfect. From the picture, you can see that it’s gorgeous, right?

But I got replies that majority doesn’t want to go to Woodbank and insist that the arisan is to be held on another member’s house.

And I thought I was the hostess!

I was insulted, first because they rejected both venues I proposed without any obvious reason, and second because they didn’t even bother to ask me (a.k.a this month’s host) whether I was ok if we move it to somebody else’s house. They decided to go on with it, just like that. Where is their manner? I feel like I am being punished because my place is not suitable for children (since I don’t have my own children, I could just ignore this potential issue and host it in my place, and let those young mothers climb up the staircases carrying their buggies and children and spend the rest of the afternoon worrying their kids might fall over the steps!), but despite all the effort I have tried to think about everyone’s comfort and to provide the best alternative, they still decide it’s not enough. The strange thing is this type gathering is not a crazy or uncontrolled one. It’s very brief as many of them must pick their kids up from nurseries or schools in the afternoon, and there is no loud music, alcohol or drugs involved, let alone a young stud as a prize – like some gatherings I’ve heard in Jakarta – to be taken home and er… utilised by the winner,  there is no stuff for sale (some arisans in Indonesia practically become mobile shops with ladies selling everything, from handbags to diamonds) so there is no danger of someone gets out of the house broke. We’d just basically move from one plate to another and do the “ooh” and “aah” over others’ kids. We might gossip about something or someone, but that’s it. So why they’re afraid to have it held at the Gran’s or at Woodbank, I have no idea!

Well, sod it.

Lesson learned. This would be my first and last gathering, when the period ends in December I wouldn’t extend my participation. I will continue what I have to do and fulfill my duty – whatever that is – but I don’t want to have anything to do with the gathering/arisan/whatever the name is anymore.

Now I’d rather spending my time worrying over the dress I should wear for The Ivy. Who knows I might bump into Daniel Craig this time…


  1. “but despite all the effort I have tried to think about everyone’s comfort and to provide the best alternative, they still decide it’s not enough” It is not this, but it has to be according to their way. They were very rude to reject 2 possibilities you chose. Did you let them know that you was insulted by this? Just in case they would ask you to organise a gathering which later on should be just as they want. This is one of the reasons why I am not into this arisan thing. There would be too many captains on one ship.

    Btw, Stuart’s grandma still lives by herself? She seems a cool gran to me.

    Lorraines last blog post..Partir est mourir, un peu…

  2. Hi Anita, sometimes I feel lucky that I do not know many Indonesians here. I can imagine that I would soon after have problems like what you have now with the arisan stuffs, and it would bother me.

    Most Indonesians feel often ”nggak enak” if they speak up against the others, but somehow you should tell them that you are not OK with what they were imposing to you. It is very impolite of them to reject you TWICE, especially since you were the one who was thinking of THEM and all the inconvenience for THEM should you have the arisan at your place.

    Anyhow, change the subject… About your girls trip, I used to do such trip as well. And it was fun! Different than if I travel with my husband, a different fun! I always want to go to London, never been there, but it is a pain here with the UK visa since I have to go all the way to Berlin to apply. And I have to apply in person, no mail application anymore.

    Have fun in London Anita! How exciting!

    Migos last blog post..Allergic to dust?

  3. Lorraine: yes I know. First, I’m not into ‘women”, because to me personally, women are tricky! They never do things straight up and always have different meaning underneath their words which could be interpreted in thousand ways. I’m more comfortable around boys, but I know I have to mingle and so far my girlfriends are fantastic. Therefore I force myself to participate in arisan, thinking it’s something I should do socially. But you’re right, there is no ground rules and everybody does things according to themselves. Shoud have known this miles away…. Oh yes, the Gran still lives by herself, she still cooks and makes us tea whenever we come around, she still makes fantastic shortbread and pancakes. She rocks!

    Migo: well, I told one that I apologise I can’t meet up their requirement, I’ve done my best, and they still don’t agree, so it’s up to forum now. To me it’s not worthy to throw some tantrum over something that I myself don’t consider important. So as long as they know I don’t agree with what they do, it’s fine. I’ve got bigger thing to think about. PS: thank you, I thought I was being over reacting but if you, practically a stranger, can say that they’re being impolite, then….

  4. Hi mbak…..

    Stuart’s Grandma is so cool
    I think to find that kind of grand ma in Indonesia is just like looking needle in the straw.
    She reads email regularly and does web chatting. WOWWWWW….
    94 years old grandma could do that.

    four thumbs up for her. :)

    Indah Sitepus last blog post..Tetanggaku Ditemukan Tewas

  5. “Less than two weeks and I’m off to London for girl’s weekend trip.”

    Have a wonderful time in London!


    WindMills last blog post..Excuse me!

  6. It seems you just bumped into annoying bunch of Indonesians heheheh. Finding a good circle is like looking into a box of chocolates …. bas bis bus pisang rebus, bisa untung bisa buntung.
    I wish I had a grandma like Stuart’s … reading your descriptions about her reminds to a character in a movie in the 80’s titled My mom wears a combat boot (or smthg like that). Cool!

    santi ds last blog post..We Are Messy

  7. Indah: yeah, she’s really cool. She’s something else, everybody respects her and does what they’re told if she tells them. The scary thing is, she’s 94 and has much better memory than everyone I know, she could recall any dates and events and she’s always right.

    WindMill: hi, thanks for stopping by, been a while :). Thank you, I believe the trip will be wonderful!

    Santi: you’re right. I was (am) lucky my girlfriends back in Jakarta are fantastic, and some of us who now live in different cities realise that we will never find friends like that, or maybe we would but it’s very very difficult.

  8. I know it’s a cliche but that’s one of the reason I don’t want to join women’s gathering such as arisan. There’s too much office politics there minus the office and I have long given up efforts to bind with Indonesian people / women here. First they are all not my type (those who are here) and even if we were in Jakarta / Indonesia whatever, I wouldn’t want to be friends with them anyway, second I have to admit that women can be real pain in the ass, especially those gossip-y, ibu-ibu like.

    I agree with what the rest of the people say here, you should let them know that you feel insulted so they might think twice before doing it again, although you have chosen not to get involved in such activities ever again. Sometimes they think these people are totally oblivious what other people think and feel

    the writers last blog post..Technical problems

  9. Post the pics if you bump into any celebs nit!!

    Have to agree….they are really rude. I never been to an arisan nor am I interested in one. Well, maybe the ones I’ve seen here are too engrossed in gossiping about others which is so not my style.

    Ivys last blog post..A Day in Universal Studio, Osaka

  10. The Writer: I did tell one, as she was the one who spread the news to everyone to arrange the venue and date of arisan, more or less like a secretary. I am very judgmental and this is the reason why I force myself to join such group because I have to learn to accept the differences in people. I don’t really hang out with Indonesians actually, hardly ever go to the gatherings or such, only to this particular arisan, which I think is more than enough to keep the ‘Indonesia connection’ open. But guess you’re right, I won’t be friends with at least half of them if it’s back in Indonesia, so why I think it would make a difference here? Hmm…. something I should think about!

  11. Ivy: I definitely will throw myself into Daniel Craig’s arms if he’s at the Ivy! Wouldn’t care if the security will have to throw me away afterwards! This arisan is not too bad, or probably I tend not to listen when they gossip about people, since I don’t know who they’re talking about anyway, and stuff my face with food instead 😀

  12. Very OOT here, pardon me ladies LOL, but everytime somebody says Daniel Craig I always remember what my friend said about him. Mulut menyunyu………wakakaka ROTFLMAO. *trying to quit laughing* *cough politely*

    the writers last blog post..Technical problems

  13. Wow… those Ibu2 Arisan sound very well-mannered and educated, don’t they … not! LOL.

    All the way to Aberdeen and still able to experience Indonesian-stab-in-the-back mannerism, hey, maybe it was a lesson learnt that you are simply a much better person than to hang out with some gossipy, ill-mannered women who have nothing better to do with their spare times.

    This is the umpteenth time I heard Indonesians being treated badly by other Indonesians while living overseas. Why is that? Why do Indonesians feel compelled to make other Indonesians lives living hell, even when being overseas? Don’t they suppose to support and help each other since, well.. they share the same nationality?


    therrys last blog post..I Should’ve Done This

  14. Therry: I think they are more oblivious than doing it in purpose, although I still can’t fathom the reason behind it. But normal people ‘should’ understand better, especially if they circulate internationally (I believe they have non-Indonesian friends, and I wonder if they do this too?).

  15. Yeah rock n roll grandma. I wish I will have a good health at her age.

    Lisas last blog post..Ariane di Champs Elysées

  16. Ohhh… Daniel Craig… my love… I’m so in love with his blue eyes… I’m drowning…

    eckys last blog post..Pulang Kampung yuk….

  17. If I were you, I will take gran to the arisan and dress up as funky as she possibly could. Must be fun to watch what would their reactions like :)

    Elyanis last blog post..Question time again!

  18. Lisa: amien!
    Ecky: I’ll tell him when I meet him 😉
    Elyani: brilliant idea. But I’d rather taking the Gran to a nice coffee shop and have a wonderful afternoon together rather than sitting down listening those matrons gossiping about people I don’t know!

  19. duh nit.. arisan??? untung gw gak lagi di dalam dunia ituh, bisa pengsan sayah…
    good luck ya and keep your cool, when they’re gossiping, just imagine you, me, therry and ecky talking rubbish as we always do.. lol

    rima fauzis last blog post..How we treat our minority. Like crap!

  20. That is odd… I thought Brittish/Scottish or the like are really big on politeness, manner, properness, or like Indonesians said ‘tata krama’. And they did that to you? How degrading. Screw ’em, who need bunch of snobbish people like that anyway? Have fun in London!

    Dinys last blog post..Weird Injury

  21. Rima: yeah our ‘cliche’ is much more cool!

    Diny: this is Indonesian’s arisan. Now it figures, eh?

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