Groundhog DayToday's Indian Express reports that soon we may have direct air links between Iceland and India. That gladdens me because I have a strange fascination for Iceland.
The direct, single cause for this fascination was a spy thriller called Running Blind by Desmond Bagley. This book was set among the lava lumps of Iceland and the description of the landscape (which isn't always covered by snow contrary to popular perception), the geysirs, the desolation and how all of this has shaped the people of the land somehow attracted me to Iceland. I have always nurtured a secret desire to visit that country and perhaps a direct air link would come in useful :-)
This Icelandic interest had one amusing consequence. The book describes how many Icelanders
followed the "Germanic" system of naming where a suffix is added to the father's name
to produce the last name of a person. For instance, if Magnus had a son named Gunnar,
the son's name would become
Magnus Gunnarsson Gunnar Magnusson. In turn if Gunnar had a daughter called Elin, she would be called Elin Magnusdottir Elin Gunnarsdottir.
Apparently, this was quite common among the Scandinavian people and would cause a lot of headaches in managing records, for a single dynastic surname helps as seen in other countries. From what I learnt, countries like Sweden actually offered people incentives to abstain from this practice and stick to a single surname.
I happened to write in to Wordsmith during a week when the theme to their Daily Word was "patronyms" (names derived from the name of a father, ancestor or a family name). One reader, Willie Velloso, an 84 year old Brazilian from Florida mistakenly thought I was an Icelander and told me of his own interests in that land. He'd never been there himself, and was giving up all hope of doing so now.
In closing he mentioned it was unusually cold there, 4°C and asked me not to laugh at these "high" temperatures. I shivered just reading that!