I am honoured to have recently been nominated by Norah Colvin for a Liebster Award, given to up and coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. For those of you who have yet to come across Norah’s wonderful blog, where she posts about education and books, take a look here. One reason I have made blogging a regular part of my life since I begun a year ago is because of the fantastic people you get to meet along the way. Thanks Norah for your support and friendship.
To accept the Liebster Award, I have been asked to answer ten questions that Norah has asked, nominate ten other bloggers for the award with a following of under 200 and to devise my own set of questions for them to answer. Here goes:
Ten questions answered
1. What do you value most in life?
I value the ability to choose how I live my life. There are many people who by accident of birth are born into societies, where because of religious beliefs, political systems, social norms or poverty, do not enjoy the freedoms I have. I try not to forget how lucky I am that I could determine who to spend my life with myself, that I could choose my education path and my own career, that who I spend my time with or what I say is entirely my choice. Freedom is everything.
2. What activities do you enjoy and why?
I love lazy afternoons in the park with my family. We have young children and it’s a joy to see them running around and squealing at the pure joy of having a kick about or spread-eagling on the grass under a clear blue sky. I enjoy sinking into a bubble bath with a good book, until I get irritated by wrinkly toes and fingers that comes with soaking for too long. I love singing when nobody is listening and dancing when nobody is watching. The best gig I went to was a Pixies concert in Berlin, on this fantastic outdoor stage in the middle of a forest. The location and music were incredible, but what really moved me was compared to the English, Germans don’t care one jot about how they look when they are dancing. It is about letting yourself go and feeling the beat and the melody.
3. What is something you wish you had more time for?
There is never enough time for reading and writing. That goes without saying. I wish I had more time for other creative pursuits besides that. There is a guitar leaning against the wall in our living room that is begging to be played. I bought it last year with the intention of learning how to play. Then there’s drawing. How I would love to be able to learn to draw. I’ll find the time one day.
4. What is one change you would like to make in the world?
I’d like us to have more understanding for each other, first within our own countries and then across country boundaries. In the UK, I feel that we have become very self-centred about our individual progress. Individual progress is important of course, but what moves me is when families work together, or wider communities find the time to connect, to talk to each other’s kids, to recognise that everyone has potential but some people may not have been lucky enough to have the best start in life. It’s a myth that the individual can exist in a vacuum and propel himself forward. I’d like to see more generosity towards others. On second thoughts what I really should have said is clean water for all!
5. What is something you would like to change about yourself?
I’d like to care less about what other people think about me. That’s a difficult one to learn but I think it has a really positive impact on our own personal mental health and progress if we can be somewhat free of other people’s expectations of us. But then I guess we all need checks and balances too, and I would probably be a wilder, uncontrollable version of myself if I was able to block the expectations overnight…
6. What surprises you most about your life – something good in your life that you hadn’t expected, dreamed of or thought possible?
The ease of transition from single person to family life surprises me. I used to wonder growing up who I might fall in love with, what our children might look like. Do all little girls do that? I never could have imagined that I would marry a man from Germany, or that we would bring these mischievous little munchkins into the world, or how tiring and rewarding it would be.
It surprises me also that I have evolved from a child with a mass of insecurities to someone who is comfortable with herself. It’s easy to wonder growing up if you’ll ever find your place in the world, if you will feel valued. Fitting in is difficult, standing out is difficult, and then you realise, we all have our own struggles and that’s ok. It makes us who we are. It makes us more not less.
7. What sorts of things amuse you?
Slapstick comedy and Ally McBeal make me laugh. There are some Simon Pegg movies, which make me smile even when I’ve seen them over and over. Then there is innuendo. If I’m in the right environment and feel safe, innuendo can be fun. The children make me laugh too. There are moments when I know I must be the firm parent when they have done something mischievous but I take one look at my husband and both of us have to work hard to control the laughter bubbling up inside. My daughter says things that are so wonderful and funny that I have a memo in my phone so I don’t forget them, such as:
Me: I have my eye on your pizza. Can I have some please?
D: Yep, but where is your eye on my pizza?
8. If you could talk with anyone and ask them to explain their ideas and/or actions, who would it be, and why?
I’d talk to both my grandfathers, who have both sadly died. My paternal grandfather lived in Florida and we didn’t get to see him often. When we did, I was blinded by the lights of Disney Land. If I’d been older, I would have asked what it was like growing up in such as big family – there were nine children – and about the love story between him and my gran, how hard he worked and how he made such wonderful friendships despite not speaking English well.
My maternal grandfather came to the UK after Idi Amin chucked the East African Asians out of Uganda in the 1970s. I was in my twenties when he died, but the cancer still took him too soon, and I’d ask him about how he felt about leaving his business behind, the bond he shared with his brothers and how the burden of being head of the family in a time of such turmoil changed him.
9. What is something you can’t do without?
I can’t do without feeling connected. I feel empty if I haven’t had at least a few meaningful interactions a day. These can be in person, talking to my husband, my mum or a close friend, reading a blog post that resonates, or something imaginary, like getting under the skin of a character I am reading or writing. If you are talking about something more physical and concrete, then I guess I’d say my phone, Kindle and laptop in equal measure, as they all enable connecting to someone else, real or imagined.
10. What is your earliest memory?
Probably my gran singing ‘Nanu maru nak’ (my nose is small), a Gujarati nursery rhyme, to me, but I often question whether my memories are real or reconstructed, so I can’t be sure.
Amongst the blogs I have nominated for the Liebster Award below, you will find prose that blazes with truth, drawings that enchant and inspire, and poetry that leaves an imprint on you long after you finish reading it. These are writers who enrich my life with their words and images, so if you haven’t discovered them yet, here’s your chance.
Changing Skin and Other Stories
Questions for my nominated bloggers
1. Describe a happy memory to us.
2. Describe the setting in which you write.
3. What is the best book you have read recently?
4. Which is your go to song to lift your spirits if you are feeling low?
5. Which author or artist has influenced you the most?
6. What is your favourite item of clothing?
7. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
8. What would you change about the world if you had the power?
9. What are your favourite and least favourite characteristics?
10. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
I look forward to reading your answers, and thank you again Norah.