“Drifting, what am I like?
A gull between earth and sky.”
-Du Fu / Vikram Seth

The more I think of Internet as a huge river where blogs float like boats, the more I am overtaken by the faithfulness of the imagery. Like boats, the blogs come in all shapes and sizes with varying contents and intents. Rafts, dinghies, gondolas, kayaks, houseboats, powerboats, ferries, yachts and cruisers: they all mill around to complete the verisimilitude. Some are propelled by flashy sails, bearing colours of life and the like. Some boast spinnakers that gather breaths of fantasy and yet others cruise with the steam of technology. Then there are some who are just pushed by oars.

Over a period of time their paths cross and some take a liking to others, revelling in the moods and movements of their co-travellers. Some become enemies too.

Some like to put their mark of affection on other boats who in turn are expected to spread the gesture further among the travellers of the river.

My friend Suresh of Life is Like This, the one with an upside down face, and the gondola that sways in peals of humour with each move, has honoured me with one such Mark. He has tossed at me a hive of eleven questions too that I must answer. I promise I’ll be brief in my deposition so that you may quickly leave to savour more interesting waters.

Q1: What do you think is your best post?

Ghostwalker.

Q2: Which of your posts do you think was most under-appreciated?

Zinfandel Moments. I believe it deserved more love. Do read it.

Q3: What genre are you unable to attempt and wish to?

Writing a tag post! Fortunately, it has never been on my wishlist.

Q4: What is the one unachieved dream that you look forward to achieving?

हजारों ख्वाहिशें ऐसी कि हर ख्वाहिश पे दम निकले
बहुत निकले मेरे अरमाँ, लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले

-गालिब

Q5: What is the aspiration that you think you can never achieve?

Being a master of Kung-fu.

Q6: What is most important to you – Values, Relationships or Money & Fame?

You have already put them in the correct order! I am proud of you.

Q7: Which do you prefer – a peaceful life or a life of passion and turbulence?

Suresh, life is like light. Split it and you have the colours of a rainbow, right from the violets of silence to the passions of red. I want my peace. And I want my passions too.

Q8: Which place in India do you most desire to visit?

Goa. I have rather fond memories.

Q9: Which place in the World do you most desire to visit?

New Zealand.

Q10: What is it that you like the most about India?

It has been my home.

Q11: What is it that you dislike the most about India?

It has become a false nation, thanks to its corrupt leaders.

And now I spread the Mark, in no particular order other than alphabetical.

Alka Gurha, of Freebird. She is a past master of irony and satire and what I love about her posts is that she hits the bull’s eye each time even as she remains ‘tongue-in-cheek’.

Devajyoti Ghosh, of Facts and Nonsense. Forces of nature like dogs, crows and unsightly neighbours are part of his lore. Many dish out self-deprecatory recipes of humour but few can match Deb’s punch.

Giribala Joshi, of The Grist Mill. She has an uncanny ability of bringing the funniest to the fore on whosoever she puts her finger on including herself. Unlike God’s, her mill grinds quick and grinds extremely fine!

Jas, of Going Beyond The Pages. All I can say is that her posts truly go beyond the screens and panels we read them on. Potent and cogent.

Jayadev Menon, of Sales Coach. You not only need to sell yourself in the business of life, you need to hard-sell! Learn the art at his side.

Rajagopalan Ratnaraj, of A Beautiful Mind. The poet at heart who writes in prose. A passionate artist who can reverberate the atoms of his reader’s heart.

Richa of The Roaming Diaries. Feel the freshness of seas and the joy of verdant greens at her very naturally written travelogues. She writes cute book reviews too but that is her other kayak!

Suranga Date, of Strewn Ashes and many more blogs. She is the undeclared poet laureate, whose pen wafts through the consciousness of vegetables, animals and bipeds with equal ease and power. She can write breathtaking epics within the space of a single page.

The Fool, of Lucifer House Inc. A peerless artist of fantasy and science fiction, he can take on the philosophy of life with the ease of a Nietzsche.

In case some of you are moved enough to pick up the Mark, here are your FIVE Questions that you must answer!

1. Which is your own favourite post(s)?

2. Which are your favourite posts by others?

3. What would you do if you were barred from blogging?

4. If you were to be limited to just 5 music albums for the rest of your life, which ones would they be?

5. If you were to be limited to just 5 authors for the rest of your life, which ones would they be?

6. (Didn’t I say five?) Correct. You may frame one question of your own choice and answer that.

They say you must pass on the Mark to the others out there. Use that image if  it appeals you. May Gods bless you all!

72 thoughts on “Marked

  1. again, completely agree with you as far as your best post and most under-rated posts are concerned. and that no 11 is quite an answer!!!

    thank you so much for tagging me. it’s an honor coming from someone like you. even i am planning to come up with a tag post. and thanks a lot for that wonderful blurb!! i can read that a few times :D.

    1. Thank you for the acknowledgment, Deb. Let me quote Du Fu again,
      Drifting, what am I like?
      A gull between earth and sky

      I am glad you liked the blurb. I have said what I believe to be true.

    1. Sir, finally, someone realizes the sweat and blood I put into it on a depleted weekend! (We keep working on Saturdays too!) Thank you for the compassion showed to a worker ant! However, your surprise visit does remind me to ask you why you stopped writing those gems at the Digital Post?

  2. Should I say Congrats? I don’t know. I still have to figure out what ‘tag’ and ‘mark’ mean in the blogging world. Thanks for guiding me to your ‘Ghostwalker’ post. My respect for your writing just grows!

  3. I am honored and elated, esp because a writer of your caliber has marked my name.

    Yes, Ghostwalker was one of your best, but I also remember your guest post on Zephyrs blog. It was different…..I guess, you have never dabbled in humour after that. Your command on the language is outstanding….and so is your knack of weaving short stories.

  4. Again, I’d insist I am just a gull between earth and sky! Thanks for your kind words and continued support. As for dabbling in humour, I am inclined to believe my latest post ‘A Tented Image’ was a humours flick, and so was ‘Zinfandel Moments’! 🙂

    ps: Try ‘Fra Lippo Lippi‘ too!

  5. Wow! I am also one of the privileged marked bloggers 🙂 Thanks for the Mark and for such kind words.

    I haven’t read both the best and underrated posts so i am off to reading them. I liked Q7’s and Q11’s answer . What I like about you is your choice of words, their flow and ultimate control not only over the plot but also the language. More power to you.

  6. Interesting answers to interesting questions! Some of the blogs in your list, I’ve visited. Some are new to me- I’ll be sure to read them now that you’ve recommended them!

  7. Never enjoyed tag replies and the intros to the tagged bloggers as much. The wordsmithy shows even in such mundane activities. Ghostwalker and Zinfandel Moment wonderful, but i have loved many others too.

    1. Thanks, Zephyr, for showering praise on a nondescript raft. I’ll be forever grateful to you for your continued support and appreciation of my posts.

  8. Thank you Umashankar for the kind words and for introducing so many wonderful bloggers. It is definitely an honor! The prologue was a joy to read. I will answer the questions here itself because I don’t know when I would be able to write a blog post.

    1. Own favourite post(s)?
    I have list my favorite posts here: http://giribalajoshi.blogspot.com/p/archives.html

    2. Which are your favourite posts by others?
    Of course, Marked by U.S. Pandey, and a few other that mention me favorably.

    3. What would you do if you were barred from blogging?
    Practice music: सांरें निसां नि प | म प ग म |
    म नि ध नि | सां नि सां सां |

    4. If you were to be limited to just 5 music albums for the rest of your life, which ones would they be?
    Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Jagjit Singh, Old Hindi movie songs, Bollywood dance numbers listed on the Grist Mill

    5. If you were to be limited to just 5 authors for the rest of your life, which ones would they be? Voltaire, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Alice Munroe, Gore Vidal

    6. Question of my own choice: Write one grammatically correct sentence.
    Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

    1. hehe Giribala! You had me in splits! Trust you to put a twist to the tag and escape from doing one on your blog :)! The answer to qs. 2 and 6 are my favorites. Is it possible that I be “inspired” by your answers. I see so much of inspiration happening in the blog world these days ;-).

      1. Rachna, please be warned these acts are performed by trained professionals! One Grain Amongst the Storm cannot be held liable for the damages you may suffer on account of mimicking the highly trained individuals.

        1. Aye, who is trained professional here? I may be on a higher step on a ladder as far as age is concerned, but I am a baby when it comes to duniadari in blogging world or otherwise. People simply make fool of me and get away with it :-/

          1. Dunaidari mujhse bhi koso door hain, Giribala :).
            Sab kuch seekha hamne, na seekhi hoshiyari;
            Sach hai duniyawalon ki hum hain anari!
            But, you are an awesome blogger both in Hindi and English. Humor and sarcasm are such difficult genres to perfect. Your blog is my absolute favorite, Giribala!

    2. Trust Giribala to decimate even in comments! And hey, the honour is mine!

      I am glad you liked the prologue – I was almost tempted to go ahead in that vein and forget all about tagging! 😀

      Those replies are quintessential Giribala, a splendid showcase of what you are capable of! I am happy to identify with some of your preferences.

      I remember accompanying my father to a real life grist mill when a child. It was a noisy place with a shrill clanking that followed a strict rat-at-tat-tat rhythm. My father informed me in a conspiratorial tone, “It is saying, I’ll-do-it-quick, I’ll-do-it-quick, I’ll-do-it-quick, I’ll-do-it-quick, I’ll-do-it-quick, I’ll-do-it-quick, I’ll-do-it-quick,….” That made sense and since I was getting restless, it soothed my nerves too!

      From now on, whenever I’ll see a buffalo, I’ll think of The Grist Mill!

  9. lovely replies and oh yes god willing for sure ..

    हजारों ख्वाहिशें ऐसी कि हर ख्वाहिश पे दम निकले
    बहुत निकले मेरे अरमाँ, लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले

    beautiful … and SIR you are modest too with the comment you made over at my place, look at this now.. what lovely replies and Lucky people get tagged tooo 🙂

    1. Bikram, I know many bloggers but there is only one who is an Officer and a Gentleman! And if tagging were to bring luck, many would have caught stars. Luck lies in the eyes of your readers who care to stop a moment or two by your bower, no matter what. Many, many thanks to you for your kind words. And thank you for being the gem you are!

  10. Hazaaron khwaaishen aisi ki har khwaaish pe dum nikle..
    I respect you more for the way you described every blogger you ‘marked’. Mark of a gentleman. Hats off and a standing ovation to you sir 🙂

    1. Thank you, Maksood for your kind words. Every writer has an inner beauty that no words can capture. You must feel it in his or her own outpouring.

  11. Loved your answers, Sir, especially the last one. As unique as ever. My favorite post yours would have to be Going Blind. Its very hard to choose because I love all your posts and a huge fan of your writing. 🙂

    1. Many thanks Akshay for those kind words. As an author, I find it impossible to a find a favourite among my own works. It is only that some of the sentiments attached with a particular piece may have a special meaning to the heart. Thank you for liking Going Blind. I also like it so much and wish more people had read it! 🙂

  12. This is undoubtedly the first tag post that didn’t sound like a tag post at all. Loved reading it. You must be bored by now, by me telling this all the time..:) I follow some of the bloggers you have marked and many of them are new to me. will check them. Hey, btw, couldn’t get ‘Bougainvillea House’. My cousin tried in all the famous book stores at Hyd and couldn’t get it. My son is back next Saturday. Hope he finds it somewhere.

    1. On the contrary, love of the readers like you keeps this blog going. Thank you for your continued support.

      ‘Bougainvillea House’ is available both with Flipkart and Landmarkonthenet Internet portals.

  13. Hey Uma! I must thank you for having honored my tag with your first ever tag post.

    Let me give my reasons for tagging . With so many blogs around, this sort of tagging seems to be one of the more functional ways for people to select new blogs for trying out if they trust the taste of the blog writer in whose blog they read the tag post. I prefer doing my bit to let people know about the blogs I have enjoyed. Else, writing a tag post would seem as much hard work to me as it does to anyone 🙂

    And I must say that your answers made my questions much more interesting than they really are 🙂

    1. Suresh, I insist that the honour has been mine both while receiving the tag from you and while passing it on to the others. I am quite convinced with what you have to say about the tags. I thank you once more for not only tagging me but giving me the chance to answer those questions also.

  14. Visualise this .. There I was, one moment, making a routine visit to uspandey.com, to read his latest musings and stories; pausing to wonder why this particular article was titled “Marked”.

    There wasn’t the slightest concern or inkling about what was to follow as I navigated through the connections he drew between blogs and boats. And then I enjoyed the responses to the questions – they were honest and crisp.

    But then came the eye-popping moment. My name slams into the retina …. Damn! What had I done to be marked? My thought – Mr. USP was exacting revenge for giving him some work in the form of a Case Study. 🙂

    No, but seriously, how did my name get there? Thank you for including me in the list … It sure is a happy feeling to have one’s name referred by a friend. So what if it means some extra thinking and writing to do, eh? 😉

    Nice post, Umashankar. Enjoyed reading it.

    1. Revenge or not, I am holding my breath to see a tag post written by an exquisite analyst by you!

      It was a pleasure to tag the Sales Coach. Thank you for your unwavering support.

  15. USP, good to know! I haven’t read your best and less-appreciated-but-more-deserving posts so I am going to do that next! Your subsequent tagging had exposed some more beautiful boats, err blogs to me that I have to have to add to me reading list! Thank you! Enjoyed reading!

  16. Honored that you have ‘marked’ my writing in your blog. I have enjoyed your stories, especially the serials and the rich descriptions of little things you have in them. Hope you continue to weave more such charming tales to inspire us and surprise us!

  17. Hi Umashankar

    Kudos for adding a few lines about every blogger that you passed on the tag to rather than just mentioning their names or urls.
    Loved your answer on peaceful life.
    Have you seen KungFu Panda movie? If fate thinks so anyone can become a KunFu master!

  18. Umashankar, What an insightful post! And the preface part was a treat to read! Fantastic…I am happy that I got the links of the best blogs here..am definitely going to read them one by one…!

  19. That’s a nice picture — of the internet being a vast river with all kinds of boats in it. 🙂 Nice answers. I love the answer to what you like most about India. Such a sweet, simple and perfect answer. 🙂
    So, you’re done with your 11 questions. That reminds me, my tagged post is still pending. Should do that fast, or else I’ll be left with nobody to tag. :D.

    1. Its heartening to learn you appreciate the analogy and the answers. There is nothing that stops you from tagging people who have already been tagged! 😀 Merci beaucoup!

  20. That was an interesting peep into your likes & dislikes.
    i need to read your best post soon..

  21. Liners and schooners,
    some captained
    by star captains
    with masked eyes and faces;
    and yet
    some fast catamarans
    that move
    only when paid
    daily amidst twittering applause.

    Some kayaks
    that bob and race,
    peer, then veer around and report;

    some gondolas
    that pretend Mumbai is Venice
    and Mithi is the new Danube;

    Yachts and powerboats,
    carrying folks posturing just so;

    Houseboats with housefolks,
    with kids
    climbing down the sides
    their each step reported;

    Some rafts,
    staying magically afloat
    buoyed by the
    volume of implied underwater words
    hidden
    but so important;

    As thousands and more
    of boats
    carved out with great effort
    from tree trunks
    of imagination,
    ply with expert
    and beginner oarsmen
    building their wordy triceps,
    a motorboat
    sponsored by a banker
    charges through
    with eleven water skiers
    precariously managing
    to stand
    on the
    water skies of praise.

    The river is deep,
    there are many travelling
    and
    it is always difficult to keep your balance.

    But yes,
    it helps,
    if you know
    how to swim
    freestyle……

    :-))

    1. Suranga, I am not sure which I have waited for more wistfully: the final instalment of the Harry Potter saga or your comment to this post! I can only say both deliveries were worth their weights in gold. You have beautifully carried the imagery of boats to its prophetic conclusion! I could almost see the kids hanging around the houseboats to the discomfort of elders, catamarans powered by muddy materialism, intentions under the water and above it and people posturing on the powerboats. The ironies of gondolas and Mithi are hard-hitting. My heart swelled with love watching those little boats carved out of the wood of imagination. And I have read these words again and again since they appeared:

      The river is deep,
      there are many travelling
      and
      it is always difficult to keep your balance.

      But yes,
      it helps,
      if you know
      how to swim
      freestyle……

      1. USP, it is difficult to pick and choose amidst boats, given that one is one’s self bobbing up and down in a boat, trying to keep some balance. And it’s even worse when one has to talk about one’s own boat.

        At my age, I prefer to float on the back, occasionally freestyling, enjoying the sprays and waves of the river water, as the various boats careen/float/are rowed through it.

        Keeps me in the balance. And my head above water. I think.

        (In any case one learned swimming long before one blogged. :-))

  22. Happy for you..and will read ur best posts very soon..the more i read ur post the more i am amazed..congrats!!!!

  23. Your the last person I expected to receive a tag from. Guess that means it is time I finally came out with a tag post on my blog. Anyways interesting answers. And thanks for the glowing words about me. Have read the ghost walker. Will have to check out the other one.

    1. Sometimes the shells descend from the least likely coordinates. Time to answer the charges indeed!

      And hey, I have said the truth and only the truth. 🙂

  24. Loved your answers, especially no7 & no5 & no3 made me laugh. Glad that I am out of tagging business. But yet to do 2 tags which some ignorant (read badmash) people gave me. 😦

  25. thats the beauty of tags in blogging, we come to know so much about fellow bloggers….

    BTW just read “Ghostwalker” and i think one can easily connect with your thoughts there and personally i can very well feel those words as i too have gone through those moments….but this is how life is, no one knows what is due to happen next moment….!!

  26. The more and more I read you, the more and more I am convinced of your invincible genius, your breathtaking command of the language and more importantly how you wield it to create magic. Your writing mesmerizes me and delights my senses every single time.

    Reading the two lines you wrote about me, I am enthralled. I could have never imagined anything about me nor could I have put it so beautifully, but yet you see the poet in me and I am honored for that. This would probably be the best thing anyone said about me and I can’t thank you enough.

    And your answer to Question 11: I have not read anything more powerful than that statement. I read this post of yours 4 days ago and yet every single day this line of yours reverberates in my head. And it is so true that we are a false nation. This is a thought which was ingrained in me long time ago and your words accentuate my thoughts. Keep writing my friend.. you are a true gem!

  27. My takeaway from here is Richa’s blog. I am glad to have found her beautiful blog through you. Thank you 🙂

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