Of course, like all proper awards, it comes with strings attached. These are the strings:1. When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
2. Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (make sure you tell them you nominated them!) and ask them 11 questions.
3. You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!
4. Make sure the blogs you chose have 200 or LESS followers (don’t think I’m quite following this rule though)
11 random facts
1. I cannot stand net curtains. To me, they symbolize everything about smallness of mind and the cramped bourgeois life I do not want to have or lead. I used to happily wave at people passing by on the street from behind my net curtain-less windows.
2. Our Singaporean apartment on the 23rd floor came with net curtains. I have not bothered to take them down. I don't know if this means I have accepted my fate or that I have outgrown adolescent prejudice. Or that I am lazy.
3. I am undoubtedly lazy.
4. I also believe that paying somebody else to clean my house is good for the economy as we are re-distributing our wealth and thus enabling more people to have a higher standard of living, thereby growing the GDP of whatever country we're living in.
5. But mostly I am lazy. Especially when it comes to cleaning floors. We do not eat off the floor.
6. My stance on clean floors changed radically when E. started crawling.
7. My opinion on practically anything is prone to radical changes. So please, don't ever take me (too) seriously and definitely don't take offense. I do not ever mean to give offense.
8. I once did a psychological assessment for a job I knew would make me severely unhappy and that I would be utter crap at. I passed with flying colours.
9. I cannot be utterly unhappy. At the bottom of my personal pit of despair stands a trampoline which propels me upwards again if I hit bottom.
10. I believe people are in overwhelming numbers kind and good. I act on that belief.
11. My favourite colour is, and has been forever, green. It is the colour of youth and hope and spring.
I am not a good traveller, because I find it impossibly hard to leave a place once I like it. And I like most places. So my best trips have been those where circumstance forced me to keep moving and discovering all the lovely surprises that were waiting around the next corner.
Those would be:
A. the hitchhiking tour along the Mediterranean coast, starting in Amsterdam, ending in Athens (we'd already booked the flight back from Athens before we left, so we had to keep moving). We passed through Germany, Austria, popped into Switzerland for a stroll, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. We had little money, and due to the hitchhiking couldn't plan ahead, so we had to rely on strangers helping us out with lifts and information - and most people we met went above and beyond to make sure we had a fantastic trip. We did. (This is in a nutshell how we became the European Champions of travelling.)
B. both of the cycling tours S. and I did, the first one from Cluny in France to Figueres in Spain, the second one from Maastricht in the Netherlands to Rome, Italy (passing through Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland on the way). The first one was marked by butterflies fluttering around us all the way, the second one by slugs splattering underneath our wheels, since the weather that summer was atrocious. It was still a fantastic ride though. I cried when we crested the hill and had our first view of Florence basking in the afternoon sun.
One day we passed a lady with a four-year-old riding behind her on a small cycle attached to the mother's bike. When S. went past, the little girl started pedalling furiously, so much so, that the mother looked round in surprise because she could feel the speed picking up. She spotted S., understood, and went high on her own pedals to make sure he didn't overtake them. The little girl shouted in glee.
I can't wait until we're that family.
2. If you could choose, where would you have liked to be born?
I feel incredibly lucky to have been born in The Netherlands in the late twentieth century. I like my country. I like the freedom, the equality, the seasons and the culture. I might have a preferred a slightly less humdrum name in my passport than Geldrop though.
3. What is your dream vocation?
Journalist. Yes, I found my calling. Now all I need to do is find a job.
4. What blog or website do you read daily without fail?
Slate. I love Slate. I listen to their bookclub podcasts too, and the doublexx gabfest. I never fail to check my google reader either, and I'll always read anything posted by Expat Bostonians, Singapore Actually, Yannisms, Penelope Trunk and Belgian Waffle. Yes, these are all women with a flair for writing, sharing their private lives and thoughts.
5. What book are you reading now?
Frank Dikotter's Mao's Great Famine (it's a brilliant, well-written historical work on the atrocities of the Great Leap Forward), Do Chimpanzees Dream of Retirement by Jacob Burak (non-fiction on economics, personal finance and psychology - not much new stuff, but a good pulling together of known research written with an optimistic view of mankind) and Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School of Villainy (I bought this at the Singapore Writers Festival and it is exactly what I hoped for: a not too serious, happily bumbling along detective novel). Obviously, the last one is getting preferential treatment over the first two, more worthier ones. I am also working my way through Martina Cole's entire crime sodden oeuvre. Yay for Singapore's National Library!
6. Do you play an instrument?
I used to play the harp, but I am not musical at all. To S.'s great bafflement, who cannot fathom how I can stand life without music. (Don't tell him, but I prefer the news stations on the radio. They tell me such interesting things!)
7. What did you like best about your childhood?
I come from a happy, close-knit family. My favourite traditions are most probably our annual Sinterklaas celebration and our annual, sometimes twice annual holidays in Switzerland.
8. What is your biggest regret?
That my heart is not as big and forgiving and loving as I would like it to be.
9. Name 5 of your favourite foods?
Drop (liquorice). Pasta red sauce as made by S. Spinach. Freshly made, warm chapati's. Yoghurt.
10. Name your favourite celebrity.
Whomever is still married to their one true love. I hate celebrities getting divorced. What kind of example is that to us mere mortals? So, Johnny Cash. Wonderful singer too. Go watch Walk The Line! It's brilliant! I am also currently cheering on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
11. What is the most important value to you?
Kindness. And curiosity, a willingness to listen and learn and share. Forgiveness. We're all in this together.
11 blogs I'd like to nominate (in no particular order)
Diary of an expat in Singapore
8000 Gotham Tales
2012 with Evaleeva
11 questions I would love to know the answers to!
1. What song or performer will make it onto every mix tape or spotify list you'll ever assemble?
2. What book or article are you still thinking about?
3. Where on the internet do you waste most time? And where on the internet do you find most interesting/inspiring/influential news and stories?
4. What newspaper/website/twitterfeed do you follow to keep abreast of current events in your geographic area?
5. And where will you take me when I come to visit?
6. How do you meet locals in your neighbourhood?
7. How would you describe your style?
8. What's your favourite hobbyhorse to get on? What do you love to hate?
9. What parenting taboos or practices have you come across in your culture?
10. What parenting practices do you think should be adopted from elsewhere?
11. When and what made you change your mind?
Looking forward to reading your answers!