Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Favorite Literary Characters of All Time

There’s a tag floating around that I would love to do. Unfortunately, no one’s tagged me for it yet so I decided to pick it up anyway, and can imagine all book lovers grabbing at it with both hands. Here's a post on 10 of my favorite literary (male) characters of all time, in no particular order.

1) Mr Darcy - He is one half of one of the most memorable and romantic love stories ever, the other half being Elizabeth Bennett, of course. A man who continuously struggles against his innate feeling of superiority (come to think of it, I quite identify with him in that sense :) He dislikes Elizabeth at the outset but then begins to love and respect her, to the extent he becomes one of the most devoted lovers ever (move over Edward Cullen).

In his love for Elizabeth, he also does one of the most difficult things for a man to do - he tames his pride.

On top of it all, we have Mr Colin Firth playing Mr Darcy twice over. Do we really need any other reason to like - sorry love - Mr Darcy?

2) Heathcliff - Surprised? But you shouldn’t be! He’s the archetypical tortured, romantic Byronic hero who is so filled with love and hatred at the same time that it threatens to destroy him as well as those around him. He grows up mistreated and abused which leaves him abusive and bitter in return. Yet, he shares a passionate love affair with Catherine. He yearns for her when she's gone. Heathcliff's character is complicated and bizarre but captivating. He's the hero as well as the anti-hero.

3) Howard Roarke - He’s possibly the most principled character in English literature that I have come across. He stands by his ideals and his vision even if that means ending up in penury. That is the most defining quality of Howard Roarke.

4) Atticus Finch - ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was one of the first books I read but Atticus Finch stays with me to this day. He was devoid of any racial prejudice afflicting a large number of Whites in 1930s America. He teaches his children the importance of being open-minded and judicious. The novel revolves around his struggle to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman, even if that means his family will have to face insults and physical violence at the hands of the townspeople who are against him.

5) E.R.Braithwaite - 'To Sir With Love' was the first novel I read completely. Before that my attempts at reading included multiple aborted attempts at reading Enid Blyton. Braithwaite is a black teacher at a predominantly white school filled with unruly, misbehaved children from rough homes. They resist his authority, are malicious towards him and revel in hooliganism. The story is about how he manages to make responsible, well-behaved "adults" out of savages, at the same time winning their respect for himself as an individual.

6) Harry Potter - How can my list of favorite fictional character be complete without a mention of ‘the boy that lived’? I’m one of the millions of Pottermaniacs in this world and do you know why I like Harry so much?

Because he’s a real character in an imaginary world. Like any boy his age, he too is afraid in the face of adversity, but he faces it with courage. He stands by his friends. His orphan status and his mistreatment at the hands of his uncle & aunt whose home he grew up in endear him as much to people of all ages as his personality.

7) Hercule Poirot - The short, fat, funny Belgian who despises dust, is obsessed with perfection, order & tidiness, and can’t stop singing praises of his intelligence and capabilities (he repeatedly declares that he is supremely gifted as far as his “grey cells” are concerned). There is only one thing he can’t handle - the sea! It makes him sick.

Poirot is a man of method - according to him, even the most complex of crimes can be solved by placing the pieces of the puzzle in the right order. He looks down on methods such as examining footprints, taking fingerprints and searching for clues with a magnifying glass, all of which according to him are methods adopted by less gifted detectives. He can solve all mysteries by sitting still for hours and thinking. And then of course there’s his funny English. He refers to inanimate objects as ‘he’ and keeps apologizing to people for ‘deranging’ them when he actually means 'disturbing' them.

8) Sherlock Holmes - He’s the anti-thesis of Poirot. He’s eccentric, untidy, messy and thrives amidst chaos. But he is also similar to Poirot in that he too relies on deductive reasoning to solve his cases.

The next two entries are going to surprise you, as they did me. Consider yourselves warned!

9) Edward Cullen - Yes, yes we are shallow like that. Stephanie Meyer knew exactly what she was creating when she wrote the character of 'Edward Cullen'. She knew she would have women the world over eating out of his palms, for the simple reason that such perfect, gorgeous, devoted men don't exist in real life!

Edward Cullen is every woman's fantasy and no one's reality. He will love you till the edge of the world; you just need to have a good - correction gargantuan - appetite for risk (for you might become his next meal!) But that's a small price to pay to gaze into honey-gold eyes every single day, don't you think?

10) Bond - James Bond. Okay, I admit I don’t know how many people would’ve actually
read any of Ian Fleming’s books but Bond IS a literary character, so he qualifies for this list. Call me sexist if you will but I love James Bond for the pure unadulterated adrenalin he brings to the table. The women that he brings along...ah, I leave that for the guys.

Whoever wants to pick this tag up, consider yourself tagged! Alternatively, tell me who are your's!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Am Back!

So, I'm back from celebrating Spain's victory in the 2010 World Cup Soccer finals :)

Of course, what I've actually been doing couldn't be further removed from that. I have spent days having my brains chewed by a random assortment of people. Apart from that, I've been up to the following...

Watched 'Inception'. I'm not going to discuss the movie here. I'll just say that I was part of that vast majority of people who did NOT get the movie when they watched it. I had been warned that it's a Matrix-type movie - difficult to understand - but I ignored the warnings b/c I "get" movies, you know. I had no idea I was in for such a strange, yet ass-kicking movie.

Hats off to Chris Nolan for thinking of something so out there, yet so intelligent. It was the dream-within-the-dream-within-the-dream-within-the-dream bit that confused me. Then, with the help of Google and a friend who had actually understood the movie, I put the pieces together. And voila! I figured the movie out! Ta-da!! And yes, I love Leo :)


Have you seen the new Sony Vaio ad? The one where Kareena Kapoor changes her dress as she walks with a Sony Vaio in her hand, and the laptop changes covers to match the color of her dress? I like! Like the concept, like the music, like the execution. Now only if Airtel Digital gave their advertizing contract to the same agency as Sony Vaio. "Yellow se mujhe meri girlfriend yaad aati hai". WTF! Does she perpetually suffer from jaundice or what?


I had a wonderful Saturday after a very long time. Just the kind of Saturday I love. Lunch, followed by coffee & desserts, followed by an impromptu haircut, followed by book shopping. I picked up the last book in the 'Shopaholic' series (Shopaholic & Baby), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, and an Agatha Christie.

The haircut, this is what it's like except the 'bangs' are a little shorter. Maybe I should've gone for longer bangs! Hmmm....

The girl in the picture is a hair model. Ce n'est pas moi!


I am addicted to Agatha Christie! Hercule Poirot, to be precise. I just started reading her and am already on my third consecutive book. And I've bought the fourth.

At first I couldn't make up my mind about whether I liked it. I mean, of course Poirot is brilliant but the thing with detective novels/mysteries is - as far as I am concerned anyway - that I like to work along with the person solving the case (in my mind, of course :) to unravel the mystery. I like to put the clues together myself to arrive at my own guess on who the criminal is, and I'm curious to know whether my guess is right. But the thing with Poirot is that the clues/facts that help you build the case aren't visible to you as the story goes along. Rather, they're concealed in Poirot's mind and are laid out infront of you only towards the end when Poirot explains how he identified the criminal. You feel like a mere observer.

Inspite of that I'm addicted to Poirot. Also, I find his English so funny! He'll say "I thank you" instead of a simple "thank you", "see you" instead of "you see", he'll refer to inanimate objects as "he/him" (such as "I'm trying to remove this stain on my suit but he refuses to go away!"). It's very cute! And then there's Captain Hastings, Poirot's co-detective (self-appointed, I presume). He thinks of himself as a very gifted detective when he's actually quite pathetic.


I've found an innovative way of fighting Sunday evening blues. Go work out! Be it the gym, or a walk or jog...almost any kind of exercise works. The rush of endorphins will drive the blues away. Try it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé...

Yes, you know what this is about :D

I'll be back once I'm done celebrating. You go and make yourselves a couple of sangrias too, and be back in some time for the Hottest Player of the World Cup poll ;)

Saturday, July 10, 2010


They won my heart with their subliminal football against Germany. I've been supporting Spain, along with Brazil, throughout this World Cup, but let's face it - their display in the group matches and even the Round of 16 & the quarter-final match wasn't exactly superlative. It wasn't the kind of fluid, classy game Spain is famous for. With Fernando Torres out of form and plenty of lapses in defense, they were barely scraping by.

And then came the match against Germany. To be honest, my heart was stuck in my throat throughout the match. To the extent that I didn't want either team to score b/c that would've meant playing aggressive football and taking risks, and the last thing I wanted was for a player to get a red card. Then I realized that a goalless draw couldn't possibly be an outcome of that game, it being the semi-finals and all, and I definitely didn't want it to culminate into a penalty shoot-out.

I shouldn't have worried so much though. The Spanish were playing at a different level altogether. Their quick-passing possession-based attacking game didn't leave Germany a chance. Germany never got hold of the ball! I was astounded. The team that had routed England & Argentina just a few days ago was scared of Spain! Clearly they were thinking too much of the battering they got from Spain two years ago at the Euro Cup finals. It's amazing how psychology plays such a big part in sports. Any sport is a mind game as much as a physical one.

The Spanish that day game me the most beautiful football I've seen in a long long time. Stuff you'd generally associate with Brazil, and dare I say the current Spanish team is capable of beating an in-form Brazil team any day!

David Villa, Iker Casillas and Fernando Torres (when he's in form) generally end up walking away with all the laurels but the true heroes of the Spanish team are Xavi and Iniesta (MAN, IS HE TALENTED!). And then there are Sergio Ramos, Puyol and Pique...they work so hard! They make me almost dislike cricketers, particularly our unfit Indian cricketers who think they're doing the entire nation a favor by showing up for matches.

I hope Spain plays just as well - or even better - against the Netherlands in the finals. The Dutch are experts at fouling and play-acting (I think their players should compete for the Oscars rather than the World Footballer of the Year Award), so Spain need to be on top of their game and dominate from the start. Just like they did against Germany.

Oh, and one last thing - I'm not so much into club football but I think I'm going to get converted to a Barcelona fan pretty soon! Anyone here a Barca fan? :)

PS: I have tremendous respect for both Joachim Loew and Vicente Del Bosque. They are both excellent coaches, no doubt, but what won me over was their attitude towards each other's teams. Neither coach derided the other's team on the eve of the match. On the contrary, they praised each other's teams generously and Del Bosque extended a very warm & respectful handshake to Loew after the game. Maybe Mr Swine-Steiger should take a page or two out of his coach's book.

Here's your eye-candy for the day...

Seriously, what's not to love about football?

The Men Who Will Do It For Spain

On 11th July. At the World Cup 2010 Finals. Against the play-acting, fouling Dutchmen.

Here's my list...

And my favorite Spanish Armada...

Fernando Torres : Slurp slurp ;-)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Hand of God". Apparently.

The World Cup is drawing to a close with only 4 matches left to go! Those who are tired of reading my posts on football, bear with me for a few more days. Besides, chances are you are a woman and I've been giving you seriously hot eye-candy, haven't I? :)

Uruguay, Holland, Germany and Spain are the four teams that have made it to the semi-finals. Uruguay obviously cheated to get to this stage. One of their players - Luis Suarez - stopped a Ghana goal with his hands in the quarter-finals. He got a red card and Ghana got a penalty kick. Unfortunately for Ghana, they couldn't convert the penalty and were thrown out of the competition. Suarez is going around boasting about HIS "hand of God" (Maradona lovers and loathers will both be familiar with this phrase :). According to him, deflecting the ball with his hands was something he "simply had to do" to send his team into the semi-finals.

There's been a lot of debate in my office regarding this incident. Most people (men, who else) were of the opinion that what Suarez did doesn't qualify as cheating. He did what "he had to do" to help his team win the match, did it fully aware of the consequences and is paying the price for it. Besides, Ghana did get a penalty kick as a result and it's their problem they couldn't score.

I don't quite agree with this point of view. As far as I'm concerned Suarez cheated. That was not something he HAD to do. Imagine if all teams start blocking goals of the opposite team by their hands when they think they're losing the match!

In football, you can't rely on a second chance, as we saw in the Spain vs Paraguay quarter-final. Spain scored a penalty against Paraguay but it was disallowed because one of the Spanish players had crept inside the penalty area when Xaxi Alonso was taking the shot. On his second try, Alonso's goal was blocked by the Paraguayan goalie. The same happened with Ghana - they were denied a sure-shot goal by Suarez and they missed the penalty shot. I feel Suarez should've been banned for the remainder of the Cup, no less. There is something to be said about playing the game in its spirit.

Alas, I'm the only alone who thinks that way. But I really want the game to be cleaned up, and if there's one thing that football needs today, it's a hell lot of cleaning up!

Consider this...none of the teams today play fair. Not even Brazil and Spain, my favorite teams. Teams which play the most beautiful football, according to me. Players cheat and play-act (Arjen Robben, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba take a bow) to fool the referree and win a free kick, corner or penalty. They push & shove players of the opposing team, tug at their clothes at the most critical moments, trip them, foul them intentionally... Every single team is guilty of it, the difference lies in the degree.

That's not what football is supposed to be though, and FIFA is being pig-headed about taking corrective action.

For one, they refuse to use video technology, leaving everything to the discretion of the referrees. This World Cup has seen horrendous referreeing errors - teams disallowed legitimate goals, players getting away with handling the ball... These human errors have proved expensive for teams and have even led to certain teams being ousted from the tournament!

The truth is that 3 referrees - one of whom is constantly running behind the ball - cannot keep their eyes on 22 players and the goal line at the same time. Only now, after severe criticism from several ex-players and outrage among football fans across the globe, has FIFA agreed to "consider" the use of video technology in football.

FIFA's refusal to evolve the game is also reflected in the way it allows players to get away with play-acting, pushing & shoving other players, handling the ball etc. The use of video technology along with clear rules regarding on-field conduct and apt punishment for players who break those rules is the only way to clean up the beautiful game. Without it, football will always remain a street game.

As far as the on-going World Cup is concerned, with the Samba having gone out of the tournament, I have little to look forward to. There's not much left to say regarding what I think of Uruguay. I'm not a fan of the Netherlands, nor a fan of Germany's brand of football.

I'm with Spain all the way. I know that the Germans, who have been winning mainly on the basis of their physical strength and speed, are going to go for the shots. The Spainish defenders might find the German forwards too difficult to restrain. Spain's game is a treat to watch. I'm not sure it would be enough to restrain the blitzkreiging Germans though.

A Holland-Germany final is the last thing I want.

Here's your eye-candy for the day, who is also a Rock Star and the man I'm banking on heavily to take Spain to the World Cup 2010 finals...

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Two days without football and I’m already going through withdrawal. For those just vaguely aware that there is some kind of a football tournament going on, well, the tournament has reached the quarter final stage and is a on 2-day break before it resumes, to give the qualifying teams ample rest and practice time. Which means that after 19 days of non-stop entertainment which involved some gorgeous men chasing a ball for 90 minutes, running into each other and feeling each other's super toned butts, there is suddenly no such hot action for 2 days. It also means that there are now only 7 matches left. Sob sob...what the hell am I supposed to do with my evenings after July 12th??!!!

Well, I could go back to the gym, for one.

The World Cup has ensured that I run home straight from work and park my ass in front of the TV. Any kind of food discipline I might have had earlier has gone to the dogs. All kinds of junk food that I’d otherwise not have touched - such as fried potato chips, samosas, pakoras etc. - are being liberally ingested. I’ve taken to eating pastries like a global ban on bakeries is imminent. I stay awake for the midnight matches with the help of Nutella. And on top of everything, it’s mango season!!

All this has led to me piling on 2 kgs!! At the places I'd want to pile them on last. I have even received their application for permanent residency, but I refuse to grant it to them. Maybe I would have if they had chosen their place of residence better. Given their current address, no.

So as of tomorrow (not today given that I have already feasted on spicy potato chops) I am going to cut off all the junk-fried-fattening food from my diet. And I am going back to hurt locker, a.k.a. the gym. The pounds have to leave before the end of this month. Suggestions would be welcome.

On another note, I love football. It’s such a beautiful game. Requires such skill and talent. Countries such as Brazil and Spain play like a song. It’s so heartwarming to see players of winning teams hug, kiss and pat each other (most of the times on the butt, there we go again!), with a big smile plastered across their faces. It’s equally moving to see the faces of players of the losing team, facing up to the bitter truth that they couldn’t win in spite of putting in so much effort.

Yes, I do believe that every player puts in the maximum effort that he is capable of into the game, particularly when he is playing for his country, irrespective of whether his team wins or loses.

Moreover, football is a game that teaches a lot of valuable lessons in life…to place the interest of your team as a whole ahead of your ego, to be a fighter, to be strong, to accept failure as part of life, to keep striving to get better at what you do, friendship (I love to see players who trip or tackle a player of the opposing team help him get up), respect for your competitors. In fact, more than a game, football is a lesson in life.