The Liebster Questions: Part One

Among the many social changes brought about recently through technology is the creation of “cyberfriends”. The very sound of the word has a vaguely sinister ring to it – but the sense of the sinister is belied entirely by the reality, as increasing numbers find themselves good friends with people they have never met in real life. A few years ago, this would have been dismissed as “sad”, and the making of cyberfriends seen as something indulged in merely by social inadequates who are unable to make friends in the real world. There may be some remnants of truth in this, but good cyberfriends have been made by so many people who are perfectly normal and gregarious in real life, and who have a more than adequate social life outside cyberspace, that this cannot be considered generally true. In any case, the opportunity to make contact with people sharing one’s own tastes and values, often from across the world, is surely to be welcomed rather than sneered at.

I am happy to say that I have, over the years, made a number of very good “cyberfriends”. Cynics may say that one never really gets to know them. Perhaps. But the same observation applies to real world friends also. The point surely is that, after a point, one comes to feel about one’s cyberfriends in the same way as one does about real-world friends. Indeed, the very terminology that opposes “cyberworld” to the “real world” is, in this context, misplaced, as cyberfriends inhabit the real world also. And soon, one comes to sympathise with their sorrows and rejoice in their triumphs much as one does with one’s non-cyber-friends.

All of this is a verbose preamble to introducing a good cyberfriend of mine, Melanie, writer of the lovely Bookish Nature blog. From her latest post, I am well chuffed to find that it was I who inspired her to start her blog: it is wonderful to discover that not only am I a blogger in myself, but the cause that blogging is in others!

The reason I introduce her is partly to encourage you to visit her blog, and partly also to respond to her awarding me the Liebster Prize. To accept this prize, one has to:

– Give thanks.

That’s hardly a problem: my thanks go without saying!

– Tell 11 things about yourself.

Ah – I am not sure what I can say about myself without repeating myself here. Readers of this blog will already know those salient facts about myself that I do not mind saying in public. But, ever a solipsist, I am always more than happy to talk about what is, after all, my favourite subject. So yes, I’ll have a go at this as well.

– Answer to the best of your ability the 11 questions that are asked of you.

I’ll do my best.

– Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award – and let them know. Ask the above nominees 11 questions of your own, or use the questions you were asked.

May I please be excused from nominating eleven others? There are so many whose blogs I enjoy that nominating some to the exclusion of others seems not quite fair. But I will set eleven questions, to be answered by whoever wishes to answer them!

First, eleven things about myself.

1. One of my earliest memories was a medical skeleton that my grandfather, a doctor, used to have in his surgery back in India. This skeleton fascinated me, and often used to appear in my nightmares. Indeed, even when I have nightmares now, that damn skeleton frequently makes a guest appearance.

2. The first film I remember seeing in English was The Sound of Music. This was shortly after I had come to Britain, aged 5, and The Sound of Music was, at the time, a recent release. I couldn’t understand a word of it, and I think I fell asleep. Falling asleep to this film has become something of a tradition in the intervening years.

3. My parents rented a television back then because they thought it would help me with my English (English was, of course, a new language to me back then). I remember being frightened by Abbott and Costello in Jack and the Beanstalk. It remains a disturbing film, and not one I’d care to revisit.

4. We soon moved to the Scottish town of Kirkcaldy, in Fife, on the North Sea coast. I never could understand why the sea was always described as “blue”: I never saw anything other than a dull, grey mass.

5. The first football match I ever went to was Raith Rovers vs Kilmarnock, in Stark’s Park in Kirkcaldy, in what was then Scottish League Division 1. The local team, Raith Rovers, whom I was supporting, was leading 2-0 with only 7 minutes to go, but ended up losing 3-2. This set the pattern for the future: whoever I support, in any sport, is almost so certain to lose, that on the rare occasion that I have found myself on the winning side, I have felt somewhat uneasy, and unsure what to do with myself.

6. My family moved around a bit in those years, and as a consequence, as soon as I’d made a set of friends, I’d end up losing them. But two sets of friends I made in my childhood years remain good friends still – Laurel and Hardy, and Holmes and Watson.

The Laurel & Hardy memorial in Ulverston, birthplace of Stan Laurel

7. What with all the moving around, I skipped a year somehow in my schooling, and left school a year earlier than is normal. In Scotland, they left school (in my day at least) at seventeen; but in 1976, aged sixteen, I found myself a student in Strathclyde University, studying physics, and living in a Hall of Residence on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. I was a cocky wee kid, and it never occurred to me then that I wasn’t mature enough. However, whatever I may or may not have achieved as a student, I was very soon introduced to the delights of underage drinking. I was a rather heavy underage drinker, I regret to say!

8. My drinking has moderated significantly with age; I would have been in serious trouble had it not! But I would be loath to give up my long-standing membership of the Scottish Malt Whisky Society.

9. After completing a doctorette in Manchester University (on multi-objective optimisation – if you must!), my first job was in Liverpool. The office I worked in was just a few hundred yards from the site of the old Cavern Club, where the Beatles used to play in the early days. When I was in Liverpool, this was just a car park, but every day, Beatles devotees from all around the world used to come to take photos of this car park.

(And incidentally – that shelter in the middle of the roundabout at the top of Penny Lane used to be Sgt Pepper’s Fried Chicken. This was back in the mid- to late- 1980s: I guess it has all changed now.)

10. It was in 1989 that my job took us (I say “us”, as I was married by then) down to London: I found gainful employment with British Airways, for whom I subsequently worked for nearly 18 years. I am down here still, on the outskirts of the great metropolis. But getting into the centre of London is such a hassle, that I rarely bother. Unless it’s a trip to the Scottish Malt Whisky Society.

11. I am a very nostalgic person, and am always looking back to my past with misty-eyed affection. This is often considered reprehensible, though I never understood why. So I was delighted to find the conclusions of a recent scientific study apparently vindicating my nostalgic bent. We are, all of us, products of our past: hold on to it, says I!

I have done eleven now, haven’t I? Right, on to the next part.

But this post is long enough. Let’s take a break.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Erika W. on July 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    There was a recent article, was it in The Guardian or The New York Times? I don’t remember, on nostalgia and pointing to a study which decided that nostalgia is extremely healthy to indulge in. I certainly do–usually when falling asleep at night; Maybe not nostalgia proper but I remember occasions which I really enjoyed, from childhood onwards.

    Reply

  2. About cyberfriends — I think it is very rewarding to get to know people who share your interests and understand your attitudes, especially if they are people you would not have met otherwise. I used to have a small mail-order business (silver flatware) and I made a number of “silver friends” over the years, people I would chat with on the telephone because this was before the Internet. Some of them I am still in contact with, even though none of us are in the business now. Compatability=compatability, no matter how you find it.

    Reply

    • Oh, I agree absolutely! I have many good friends on the internet, most of whom I have never even met!

      There is one cyberfriend whomI first encountered on teh net some fifteen or so years ago now, and, after a few years’ of talking books on the net, and even crossing swords once in a while (in the friendliest of manners, of course!) discovered that his workplace was a mere 5 minutes’ walk from where I lived! It was the most extraordinary coincidence. Needless to say, our cyber-friendship soon became a real-life-friendship also.

      Reply

  3. That was quick work! Thank you so much for this, Himadri…

    I think it must be about ten years now – or maybe more – since we first began our cyber-friendship – and I’ve learnt some new things about you, reading this today! As ever, you tell such a great anecdote, with such humour and filled with so much that interests and entertains. Brilliant stuff!

    Thank you so much too for your touching words (they mean a great deal to me). You’re so right – a good cyber-friendship is every bit as genuine, significant, influential – and as meaningful in our lives – as friendships in the non-cyberworld. Over the years, I’ve gained so much from our discussions – and you’ve been a great support when the going has got tough… Not to mention how instrumental you were in encouraging me to start blogging!

    I’ve been a bit rubbish on the literary discussion front these past couple of years, with one thing and another conspiring to constantly interrupt my lines of thought and concentration (and to restrict my time for reading! Which is a bit of a problem for someone trying to blog about books!) – but I’m hoping that I’ll now be able to get back to the old bookish bun fights (or rather I should say, our old habit of munching metaphorical cream teas together over a shared love of Shakespeare, Dickens – and literature in general – with the odd sponge cake of friendly literary contention thrown in from time to time!) Or, at the very least, I’m hoping I’ll be able to unravel the tangle of stuff in my brain enough to write something coherent in your comments sections more often from now on! I always love reading your posts.

    Here’s to many more years of cyber-friendship! (I’m now off to your Liebster Part 2 post, to read your eleven answers to my hopefully-not-too-daft questions!)

    All the very best,

    Melanie

    Reply

  4. Anyone who says that you cannot form deep and meaningful friendships online is just a clueless idiot. Since coming online in 2000 (I was a late techie bloomer), I have bonded with many wonderful folks, most of whom I’ve never set eyes on in real life. So what?

    I’ve known Himadri for a dozen years. We’ve interacted on numerous forums and other sites over the years. I call him friend and mean it just as though he were my pub mate every Thursday evening. It would be fun to sit and share a pint with him one day, but it’s not a requirement for friendship.

    Friendship is a rare thing in this world. Take it where you can get it, I say.

    Cheers, H! 🙂

    ~Eric

    Reply

  5. I don’t spend time in bars or drink anymore these days, but if you show up, I’ll definitely make a one-night (maybe two) exception. There’s a quaint little pub down the road from me called Mad Dogs and Englishmen (you may know from whence they got their name) –> http://www.maddogs.com/ or, if you prefer a good pint of Guinness, there’s always The James Joyce Irish Pub in the heart of historic Ybor City –> http://www.maddogs.com/. Either is within bicycling distance of my house. 😉

    See you then, mate! 🙂

    ~Eric

    Reply

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