Merci, Mes Amis

“Who enrolled me in the ranks of the human race?” –Joseph Brodsky

liebster-2Yesterday, I attended a blogging community meet in a trendy restaurant specialising in exotic Mediterranean delicacies. The sponsors were a popular notebook company and as usual, they did justice to the expenses they may have put up. And the men in black, or the organisers, had the audience speechless for the few hours they held the floor, or they thought they did. The audience was rendered speechless, but not soundless, because as is the custom of the commune, it was challenged to reverberate the evening with deafening roars. Yes, that is how the community explains its spirit and stamps its presence. Its motto is a ‘hurrah’ with the ‘ah’ knocked off, and they love to repeat the sound with a tight-fisted hand curbed inward at a right angle, the formation jerking up and down in a swelling crescendo. Before you realise, it whisks up a thick bond among the throng, and no one can contend with that. But this time around the trademark heil was improvised by a vocal trapeze artist who could reproduce the entire gamut of sounds that ever escaped a primate throat. It was naturally followed by contests where groups vied with each other in a hollering match. The so-called loudest were awarded shiny tokens under murmurs of protests from the alleged losers.

Allow me to clear the air: the grapes are sour. But surely, that is not the cause of my lingering depression. It is more the perturbing realisation that I am getting old. If mine was not the greyest head of the congregation, it was surely the coldest of them all, a grotesque outlier. I realise though, they were all affectionate people having a hell of a time reliving the days when bipeds were still to invent speech, and pray, what is wrong with that? Only, who enrolled me in the ranks of the human race?

The following day however, a Liebster Award penetrates the darkness of my heart like a ray of light. And I realise that in a virtual world, the best connections, the best surprises and joys, materialise over the Net, like a meteor in Russian sky. A common happenstance, you may note, yet, it reaffirms my faith in the community. And with that absurd preface, I thank you, Miss Molly, for this sweetly timed bouquet of friendship. Without further ado, I lunge into action hereunder:

The Eleven Facts About me

(1)   I Love reading books in physical format (2) I love to shoot with a Nikon. (3) I hate sloppy photography. (4) I hate the impossible prices of professional photography gears. (5) I Love Keats, Hardy, Austen, D. H. Lawrence, Hemingway, Steinback, Du Fu, Viram Seth and Anita Desai. Remember, I am keeping it short. (6) I hate fifty of shades of certain colour. No, I am not a gay. (7) I love blogging. (8) I hate fake bloggers. (9) I love Spielberg. (10) I hate who imitate Spielberg. (11) I love my readers. Thank you, forever!

The Eleven Questions

1.  Best day of your life so far.  I got this from “City Slickers,” that scene when the guys are riding along with the herd and talking.  And like their rules, the best day can’t be the day any of your kids were born.

It was rather a dark night; it was my birthday too, when I rammed my scooter into a boulder on the street at around 90 kmph. My roommate was a pillion. Both of us escaped without a fracture!

2.  If you could be somebody else for a day, who would it be and why?

I’d like to be Hilary Mantel. I’d like to know what fires her.

3.  What are your three favorite foods?

Green peas, Alu-tikki with chhole (fried mashed-potatoes with chickpeas cooked in Indian spices), boiled rice and Arhar pulses pickles of red chillies.

4.  When did you consider yourself grown-up (if you do)?  If you don’t consider yourself grown-up, what will be the marker?

It’s funny. Last time I had an illusion of being perfectly grown up was somewhere in the middle of adolescence. Thereafter, every new year that I add to my girth makes me feel increasingly immature. You have spoken of a marker. I am waiting for the day I’ll become a full time author and a photographer, a goal that slips sliding away with every passing day.

5.  What tokens, charms, special objects do you keep around to inspire your writing or other work you do if you’re not a writer?

None. But silence of the night to be followed by an unquestioning day is a prerequisite for fruitful writing.

6.  If you could make up your own astrology signs, what would the name of your sign be and what would be the symbol?  Explain.

‘One-Grain-Amongst-the-Storm’. I wouldn’t know how to draw it! In a sense I am already living it through my blog.

7.   Who was your favorite high school teacher and why.

My Geography teacher. Boys were scared of him. He was scared of me. I hope you understand.

8.   What was the last live music performance you attended?  How did you like it?

I believe I am not allowed to include attendances hidden in future. Yet, I’d like to attend a Paul Simon event live…but then I am digressing.

9.   As a kid, what was your favorite book? Do you still have a copy?

Julius Caesar. Yes, I do have a copy.

10.  Someone once said it’s not what we give that defines love but what we give up.  Have you ever given up anything for love?  What and why?

I have given up my girlfriend. I didn’t want to upset her husband!

11.   What’s your favorite mode of travel?

My own yellow car. (Actually, it’s metallic gray).

And the Nominations:

1.     That’s a Jenn Story

2.     Peter Gallen Massey’s Book Blog

3.     Book Snob

4.     A Shimmering of Northern Light

5.     Gettysburggirl

6.     Personal Concerns

7.     The Motley Collection

8.     Mashed Musings

9.   Arnab Maity

10.   Shadows Galore

Questions to the Nominees (This one is going to be the simplest of them all!).

  1. Top 4 authors, or photographers, you love
  2. Top 4 Movies
  3. Top 4 singers/albums
  4. What would you do if you were to be stopped from writing?
  5. Are you in favour of banning books?
  6. Are you in favour of capital punishment?
  7. Are you in favour of veils for women, as in hijab?
  8. Which is the best translated work (or works) you’ve read?
  9. Moments you cherish.
  10. Moments you’d rather forget.
  11. Is blogging for everyone?

Thank you, dear friends. Do pick up the tag.


  1. My friend,

    I haven’t been to a bloggers’ meet – always counted myself as a one who sorely missed such dos. But all the reports I have read so far about such gathering spoke about gimmicks by sponsors and noisy party games. The blogging sites that organise these meetings obviously need people to foot the bill and the bloggers are sitting ducks for the organisations who pay to get access to their mindspace.

    What would be my status in such a gathering if you consider yourself out of place and over-aged? My interest in a bloggers’ gathering is ebbing rapidly.

    Enjoyed reading your responses to the queries – reminds my yet again that there is so much to read.

    Am waiting for the book .. make that books!!

    1. Jayadev, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Don’t lose faith yet. One dud grape doesn’t mean the entire crop is gone. And yes, that book, that book…!

          1. 🙂

            That’s my answer too to the people who egg me on to publish the book on Sales.

            I think we both need to set a date for that event; in our minds at least. What do you think?

  2. this probably is the best award post i have read so far!! alu-tikki with chhole is heaven!

    i know there are many bloggers who are published authors now and i don’t want to talk about their writing primarily because i am not qualified enough to criticize anyone. but if their works can be published then why would the publishers not publish your book? your book will be published and it’s going to be the best book on earth.

    i read some of the blogs you have mentioned here. would love to go through the rest.

    1. Deb, our cynicism is not out of place. Far too many people are wasting everyone’s time writing, blogging and being published.

      You’d love some of the bloggers in that list, especially Peter. A million thanks to you for the unflinching support.

  3. You write well, Umashankar and I’m sure I’d enjoy a book written by you. Have you started on one? As for hurr noises, they’ve always hurrrt my eardrums – welcome to the oldie-goldies and congratulations on your leibster.

    1. Thank you for those sweet words, KayEm. I am sure our poor eardrums may put up with an occasional hurrr but when an entire meet is based on impossible variations of that sound, a quick retreat is in best interests of all.

  4. Thanks a lot for the honor US !! Great to read about you ! You have a gift for writing and I am sure if you do embark on a book, it will be a great read.
    Btw, I got another Liebster , which I am still sitting on. Am I allowed to combine all Liebsters and write a single post 🙂

  5. Uma you are among the ones I follow for the sheer pleasure of reading and reading more so having a hard cover book or even a paper back with your name on it as author will be a treat 🙂 Congrats for the award 🙂

    1. Tell me, Jas, can an aspiring writer receive a better compliment than this? Words like these will keep me going forever! A million thanks to you!

  6. Ah! This is a pleasant surprise, didn’t expect you to write an award post but I knew if you ever did, you’ll make it unique. This post really is. 🙂 I have been to two blogger meets, one was good, the other was mediocre. So even I have mixed feelings so far. 😉

    About the 5th fact, I guess you forgot to mention Nietzsche as I have seen you quoting him several times (although it was a short list). Facts 7 to 10. Ditto, me too. 🙂 The book of yours is an eventuality, we all know that. Its only a question about when. And whenever it comes out I’ll be one of the first persons to buy it for sure.

    Rock on, Pandeyji.

    1. Akshay, I am thrilled to read your comment. Thank you for the ceaseles pats on the back.

      The community in question could be flogging the old horse to death. They seriously need to move ahead.

      And tell you what, my friend, it is the confidence of souls like you that keeps me going, posts, blogs and books!

      May God bless you!

      PS: About the 5th fact -Actually, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, T S Eliot, Brodsky and many, many more. I didn’t want to sound pretentious. 🙂

  7. If one evaluates this post as one long acceptance speech , then it would besans doubt , the most enagaing one fitting that genre ! Few match your writing skills and for that matter you are definitely one polished grain in the storm 🙂 Nice to have known you better through this post . Keep writing 🙂

    1. Thank you for the glittering compliment, Maliny -it makes me uneasy! There are amazing writers out there. I try to write less but well and there are times it works. Many, many thanks to you.

  8. Umashankar ji
    I came to know alot about you. Getting book published never always mean that the creation was great. But if you get a chance you only take reputed publisher. I am a sufferer but do not want you to suffer from the same agony.

  9. Thank you for sending an award my way Uma and the questions are very interesting. I will pick them up soon.
    I have never been to a bloggers meet but I have heard similar accounts. I think it should be more about bloggers interacting with each other and not about promotions and selling stuff.

    1. You are one of the best, Amit. I’m glad you have decided to pick up the tag.

      The organisers of the blogger meet are bypassing imagination. Thanks a ton!

  10. Congrats on the award, USP.
    Same here. Many a time, I’ve felt I was much more mature a long time ago and thought it strange. They say you mature with age, no? 🙂

    I look forward to your next photo post and hope there’ll be a photography book too, someday. I’d love to have a coffee table book with your photographic works. 🙂
    Have a good week, USP.

    1. Divya, age is no guarantee to maturity. Worse, there are instances of reverse growths! That said, it could be a case of wrong perspective -maybe it is we with the wrong numbers on our dials. 🙂

      Thank you for reminding me of the forgotten passion. I am hoping a date with it before life runs out.

  11. Thank you Uma for this award. It’s like receiving the “Dark Lady” from the hands of Mr Bachchan. No matter how cliched I sound, I won’t mind telling that you have carved a niche for yourself in the realm of blogosphere – where every second gives birth to a thousand bloggers. And all this you have achieved only through your words.
    I accept this honour and will come up with my acceptance speech soon:)

    1. Thank you Arnab from the depths of my heart for granting me the license to hallucinate! Let me tell you this, my friend, the “dark lady” will find fewer hands as accomplished as yours. I am deeply indebted for the unduly high opinion you have for this scribbler. And hey, everytime I see your immaculate shots, my heart melts. I will wait for your post.

  12. You didn’t realize but we walked out soon after you did! Too much noise and none of it entertaining! But I was glad that I met you and a few other bloggers too.
    Congratulations on the award. I’m a little averse to taking on these tags but I do enjoy getting to know other bloggers through them. A Paul Simon concert would be fab. As would enough time to pursue your passions of writing and photography.

    1. Well, Corinne, I was seriously wondering how some of you were braving that. But, as you say, meeting with a few other bloggers warms up the heart. It was a pleasure and a privilege meeting you and José.

  13. Stature, TM? I can daresay we are equals! I am sorry about your foot. On the other hand, it has given you a chance to splurge in your favourite hobbies. So, get well soon, and keep writing. I love each of those exquisite entries that appear on your blog. Many thanks to you.

  14. Amit, I havent been to a bloggers meet, and I dont think I ever will. Not enough to excite me stick my butt through for those few hours 😉

      1. And yes, forgot to mention – loved the description of what happens at a blogger’s meet. As Suresh said we ignore the cacophony around us and have our own fun.

  15. “Age is nor guarantee to maturity” – how true Uma! I am probably the oldest person in blogger meets here and I enjoy them – not the ‘Hurr’ part, of course, but the fact that we have a good bunch of guys here who get together and have fun regardless of what happens in the meet 🙂

    You write exceedingly well, Uma, as I have had occasion to remark before. Success will certainly crown your efforts soon and I will be queuing up for the book as soon as I hear of it!

    And, a second-hand thanks for the Liebster as well 🙂 Got one via Ash 🙂

    1. A ‘good bunch of guys’ will have fun even in a Martian desolation. The trouble is when you are hosting a mass of disparate gangs whose purported passion is writing and you are expecting everyone to emit sub-primatic howls as their best expressions and capabilities, for bonding, carousing and contesting, end to end, something is seriously wrong somewhere.

      Thank you for the lavish praise. And Suresh, there is no second-hand in awards. They are all first class!

  16. waiting for a book by you Umashankar ji —–it will be welcome by all those who have been reading you –and also by them who will read them

  17. I treat your blog as a book in itself…each post is like a new chapter. I’m not embarrassed to admit that sometimes I need to search for unseen words that you use so confidently and easily. Your writing is more balanced and mature than most published bloggers, primarily because you don’t need to hide your weaknesses behind slapstick humour and a rather casual approach, like them.
    This is a wonderful post to come back to. 🙂

    1. I profusely thank you, Varsh, for those high words of praise. I am not sure though how good I am. But surely, I take each post of mine with equal seriousness. I don’t write for the sake of filling space. Nor do I write to titillate.

  18. he he!! this is awesome to read and then think about. I am not too sure of my answers right now!!will surely give it a try soon. And thanks a tonne for the honors!

    And a suggestion: the sign could be that of a wheat grain and a lot of wind in high velocities all around it (painted with the lazy strokes) 😛 (‘literalist art’…may be we can give that a pretentious meaningless name too 😛 )

  19. Even your award posts are a pleasure to read. I was reminded of my first award reply post that I did some time back in response to you. Interestingly the next post I plan happens to be an award one as well.

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