The lively, interesting and, as I now know, kind blogger Czechsotans has nominated this blog for a Liebster Award! Many thanks for the support, and check out Czechsotans’ entry here
I admit that Liebster Awards were unfamiliar to me, and the gist is that the Liebsters are a way for smaller blogs to share and support each other’s work. The nominator asks each nominee to answer some questions, and then those nominees answer and pass on the award with new questions to their own set of nominees. The rules, loosely understood, are here.
Czechsotans asks the following questions, and because Drinking Coffee Elsewhere: Mongolia is an expat blog, I’ll answer in terms of life in Mongolia:
1. If your blog was a song, what would it be and why?
I came of musical age in the late 1970’s, and Blondie’s “One Way or Another” captures my somewhat antagonistic affection for Mongolia.
For a city that is commonly described as unattractive, there are some lovely little parks and green, open spaces. The center of the city is easily walkable, as long as one is EXTREMELY vigilant when crossing the street, and walking is a great way to appreciate the parks and old architecture. At this time of year, flowers are planted along the sidewalks as well, which makes the street scene even nicer.
3. What are you doing this summer?
Staying in Mongolia to enjoy the warm weather and host some of our close friends who are visiting from Malaysia. It’s a huge treat to spend time with people we really miss, plus visitors give us a good excuse to sightsee outside Ulaanbaatar.
4. Name a place you’ve traveled that you’d recommend to others and why.
The Mongolian countryside is breathtaking. Ulaanbaatar has its charms and comforts, but travellers should come to Mongolia for the wild beauty of the landscape and the rigorous outdoor activities.
5. Who is someone you look up to?
I have been really fortunate through work in the NGO sector to meet some amazing women leaders. Some of them were among those who fought for democracy in the immediate post-socialist period, and some of them are advocating every day for law and policy reform. As I write this, the revised version of the Law on Domestic Violence has been at Parliament all week, and people are working hard to get that law passed.
6. What drives you crazy?
The food. Traditional Mongolian food is meaty, fatty and bland, and even as I appreciate the very good environmental and cultural reasons for this diet, I have a very hard time eating here. The local taste for meaty, fatty and bland affects the preparation of non-Mongolian food as well: where else would you find sausage nigiri sushi? On the positive side, my own cooking is improving as I learn to make more ingredients and dishes that I can’t find here.
7. Where do you do most of your blogging?
Each post starts as a conversation in my head with some hypothetical Interested Person. When the narrative flows and I have a semi-coherent idea of the beginning, middle and end of the post, I get on the computer to write and find images. The actual “where” depends on the time and energy I have for writing, sometimes at home, sometimes at work.
8. How do you spend your free time?
A lot of cooking, obviously! We eat all breakfasts and about five dinners a week at home, which takes time to prepare and hunt for ingredients. Now that the weather is warm, I love riding and wish I could do that every weekend. We have more of a social life now, too, so we have people over or meet somewhere to get together. All my other time is spent reading, both books and online.
9. What is something cool you’ve found?
Mongolian (Tuvan, specifically) throat singing — oh, my god! Listen to this.
10. If you could switch places with someone for a day, who would it be?
Honestly, I have no idea!
11. What gets your creative juices flowing?
One of the tags I just added recently is Cultural Dislocation. I’m just now calling it out specifically, but really, cultural dislocation is the feeling that inspires me to write and describe what we experience here. It’s hard to exaggerate the impact of daily life in an unfamiliar culture: basic tasks can be very difficult because, well, how do you add money to your phone or find a shoe repair place, or or or or… One way I can tell how hard this is? When we’re in the US I am ridiculously excited by simple interactions IN WHICH I AM UNDERSTOOD. Such as asking where something is in a store, being told and finding the thing in that place. When so much is unfamiliar, we notice more, and that is what sparks creativity.
And my nominations for Liebster Awards go to:
- Magie Crystal’s blog, for its beautiful photography and thoughtful, often droll, commentary
- Help Each Other Out, which is a whole amazing project that includes a blog
- Dedicated to Durians, a cool appraisal of the heaty King of Fruit
If they want, and when they have time, I would love to know how they answer the following questions:
- What started this project?
- What’s your favorite part of blogging?
- What have you learned along the way, and would you give this advice to others?
- Do you have a particular audience in mind?
- How do you use structure in your blogging — a set of guidelines for posting, or as things arise?
- What particular image or memory best captures the spirit of your blog?
- If you could go anywhere in the world and share the experience through the blog, where would it be?
- Whom from your past would you go back to and thank?
- What about you might we not know from reading your blog?
- What makes you feel better after a hard day?
- Do you have an end in mind for your blog?