July 29, 2010

Fictional Crushes Tag

Rachna tagged me. Exactly what I need right now, a tag, to get back on writing business of blogging.

So this tag that Rachna created, is about, surprise surprise, fictional heroes (I have known Rachna since school days: she defines the word book worm. Its an accomplishment for me if I can find a book that I have read and she hasn’t! By book I, of course, mean fictional books and not course books). The tag requires to name ten fictional crushes I have ever had. I am not sure if I can name ten of them because like real crushes, my fictional crushes fades away and I don’t even remember them after a while. Yet, here is a list of my fictional crushes that I do remember(in the descending order of intensity of my crush: the top one being the most intense):

1. Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d'Anconia or simply, Francisco d’Anconia (Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand): I have the biggest crush ever on Francisco d’Anconia. Honestly, my heart race every time his name appears in the book. I dream about him, I wish he was real so that I can meet him just once in real life.

Why do I like him so much, you ask? He is a perfect man. He can do anything, any work perfectly and effortlessly. As Ayn Rand says while sketching his character:

Two things were impossible to him: to stand still or to move aimlessly.

"Let's find out" was the motive he gave to Dagny and Eddie for anything he undertook, or "Let's make it." These were his only forms of enjoyment.

Just my kind of person and then there is his famous money speech is a killer. Just an excerpt:

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? […]

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?”

2. Fitzwilliam Darcy or simply, Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen): I won’t be exaggerating if I say that he is every teenage girl crush. Well he was mine. On my sixteenth b’day, a neighborhood didi presented me with two abridged books: ‘Little Women’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Till then my reading habits were restricted to Archies, Tintin, Nandan, The Three Investigators, Nancy Drew and Famous Five. It was my first introduction to Jane Austen and I simply fell in love.

Why do I like him? In the first pass Mr. Darcy is arrogant, haughty, snob and all the other synonym of the word. But the way he changed for his love Elizabeth Bennet. All the things he did for her and the way he pursued her: simply romantic. Is it a surprise that I fell in love with him as a teenager?

3. Alan Shore (Boston Legal): The next fictional character that makes my heart go ‘ooh’, ‘aah’, doesn’t belong to a book but to a TV series called Boston Legal. But as he is still a fictional character, I think he counts. (Just so we are clear, I love Alan shore and not James Spader, the guy who plays Alan Shore. No doubt that James have done a great job but its the character that I have crush on and not the actor).

Alan is far from perfect. In fact, the first time I watched Boston Legal, I found him very inappropriate, sexist and even cheesy but his heart is in the right place. He always do the right thing even if it means being slightly off track, and even, at times, illegal. His arguments in the court, his logic, his views, his attitude, and his caring nature (despite being a lawyer), grows on you till he becomes irresistible. And the best of all, his friendship with Denny Crane. Denny Crane has completely opposite views about life, politics and everything else, as compared to Alan and yet both of them are inseparable. Difference in opinion do get in the way of their friendship and yet their friendship survives. I simply love watching that show and every time Alan Shore appears on the screen, my heart starts beating a bit faster.

4. Cole Turner (Charmed):  Yet another TV character who make my heart race. I started watching Charmed back in India (on Star Movies, I think). I am a big sucker for any TV series, book, movie based on magic, witches, wizards, vampires etc but honestly this series is very cheesy. But there are few characters that absolutely captivated me. Cole Turner (played by Julian McMahon) is introduced in season 3 as a love interest for Phoebe (played by Alyssa Milano) the youngest of the charmed sisters. He is half human and half demon, and is sent by the Source (of all evil) to destroy the Charmed sisters. But his human half fells in love with Phoebe: deeply and passionately in love. He turn against everything he has known for his entire life to be with her. Some thing or the other keep happening and the two of them never get together in real sense.

The tortured love, the bad boy, the rebellion all of these factors makes him so lucrative, I guess. He makes my heart pound. I love the season three to season five of Charmed just because of him. Coincidentally, I tried watching a lot of other movies and serials starring Julian McMahon but it was just the Cole Turner character that has that effect on me.

5. Raj Malhotra (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge): Let me start this one with the statement that I don’t like Shahrukh Khan. I think he overacts and dramatize even the simplest of the scenes. The only movie I can tolerate him in is Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and again, it has more to do with the character he played than him.

Raj Malhotra, is a party boy, an incurable flirt and yet when he falls in love, he is sincere, he is respectful and he understands Simran’s (played by Kajol) emotional turmoil of choosing between love and heart, or family and tradition. Which Indian teenager girl can resist him? I couldn’t. I have watched the movie uncountable times and each time I fall in love with him yet again.

Well that’s all the fictional characters I could think of that make my heart race. How about you? Pick up the tag if you like it. If you are a bookworm (or even a movie lover, or a TV addict), you would love doing it..

July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Stream Profiler

Not so wordless this week though. Well I have to tell you what you are seeing and not simply show you. So what you are seeing here is called a stream profile chamber and frankly, that’s what it is: a stream profile chamber. The upper 1/4the part of the photo shows you the real forest and the stream as it look if you are above this chamber (the part above the water). But then you enter this tunnel and you see how the streams really look like in nature. Can you see how the water from the small fall makes all those bubbles, the rock behind the branches going in and, of course, the fish swimming around? See how the sun rays are penetrating the stream?

It was an accidental discovery on the recent trip to Lake Tahoe (yep, that’s where I disappeared after my defense and hence, the long silence). I found this very unique and exciting and hence the picture. Or may be, years of grilling in academics have turned me to an absolute geek. No really, do you also think its cool or is it just me? Have I really lost the ability to communicate with the normal people (I was told that most of the PhDs do so I have been wondering)?
Tahoe_Me_123-1Title: Stream
Location: Rainbow Trail, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Date: July 20, 2010
(Canon EOS REBEL T2i camera, Canon 18-55mm lens @ 33mm focal length, f/10 aperture, 1/100 sec shutter speed and 3200 ISO (the reason the picture is a bit grainy) using a graduated 0.6 ND filter with darker side towards the top. Post processing: cropped slightly, straightened and increased contrast using Picasa3)

July 26, 2010

Blog Name Changed

Oh well, I am back. Yet again. Did you think I disappeared completely? Well, I didn’t. I just took a break, after my DEFENSE. That’s right! I have unofficially finished my PhD (officially, I finish in September). So, as promised, I am changing the name of this blog to “Just Life”. I am not sure when, and if, Google reader will show this change (its not showing any change, at the moment).

I am still in process of changing the blog design and will appreciate any suggestions or comments you might have.  :)

July 5, 2010

I am now officially a sinner. YAY!

I have been waiting for this tag to come around (that is, for someone to tag me officially) ever since IHM started it off. True, I don’t usually wait for the tags to come around but do them anyway, but this time I wanted to be tagged officially and do it completely legally (what if by doing it illegally, I get stuck with wrong colors). Finally, PB tagged me. A BIG thanks to her :)

So the tag is about breaking the gender stereotypes: things you do that do no belong to your gender’s characteristics as defined by the society. Hence, making you a social sinner. The tagee (the one who has been tagged) is supposed to list 10 such sins and then tag 12 more bloggers (otherwise the tagee will be cursed to wear blue clothes pants if they are a woman and pink shirts if they are a man – for next twelve years). Hence, the taggee now becomes the tagger and can officially join the facebook club of the sinners!

So here goes my list:

1. If I like someone, I usually make the first move. I actually prefer it that way. It makes me more comfortable. When I am out on a date with someone, I usually pay for myself, and often for the date as well ( I was the one who invited them for the date, then shouldn’t I be the one paying for it? Just my logic). The only trouble is that I am a big snob and hence, don’t have a crush as often (or may be its a good thing, at least good for my wallet).

2. Photography is my passion. To the extent that most of the people around me (usually guys), ask for my opinion before buying a camera or a lens, and at times, when their camera is malfunctioning (no, I don’t know how to fix a camera. Seriously).

Most of the photography club trips I have been to, I was the only girl amongst 15-20 odd guys. The photography trip I take alone, I usually end up talking to strangers (usually photographers). Some of them have given me excellent tips.

3. I have learned martial arts for 2 years and I am a blue belt in Kenpo Karate (I am planning to continue that once I am done with my PhD). I think I can do some damage to anyone who dares to attack me. I relish a good defense technique, even though it might mean gouging opponents eyes, or breaking their ribs, or snapping their neck, or breaking few bones, or taking off someone’s knee cap. Brilliant! The knowledge that I can do all that, gives me a lot of confidence, not that I will necessarily apply any of them in real life, unless I am attacked. However, I still don’t enjoy watching the WWFs or any other wrestling contest or any brutal sports. I think they involve unnecessary violence, done for the entertainment of some dumbos, instead of self defense.

I should point out that martial arts, among all the sports, is considered least favorable for a girl because, number 1 it’s a contact sports which means you have to be in close physical contact with the others almost all the time (and its a mixed sports, you have to work with both guys and gals). Secondly, it does involve getting hit repeatedly, which yet again not a very desirable thing for a girl, is it?

4. I am good in Maths. I have always been good in Maths (I consider it as my strength). I can solve quite a lot of questions in my brain without any need to write it down, which, for some reason, people think is amazing (or so have I been told). At times, few of them don’t believe that I have done it in my brain and accuse me of cheating or guesswork! Usually, their argument involves something on the line that a girl can’t solve those things in her brain. The girl’s brain, you see, is more adaptive in memorizing stuff than problem  solving. Or, so I have been told.

5. I read news regularly. I keep in touch with current affairs and follow the politics (world, US and India). I have political opinions. I can explain you anything from Kashmir conflict (when and why it started) to Arizona immigrant law to Tories recent budget in UK (not too many details but an overview). 

But I should confess that I am not a very good debater. I avoid conflict as much as I can.

6. I like Lego and any such puzzle solving, building things kind of toys etc. My room-mate and I put together all our furniture when we moved in our new apartment (in US, you usually get furniture in pieces with nails and everything which you need to put together). Since the age of 15 until I was 25, I was the one responsible for putting the lights up in our house on Diwali (as well as the Rangoli).

7. My specialization, Geophysics, requires a fair bit of field work. So I have roamed the villages of north-west Rajasthan, Gujarat and upper Himalayas during different field trips. And I must say, there is no better way to know the place than to do field work in that area.

8. I am an agnostic atheist. More importantly, I am anti-religion (basically, anti anyone who tell others what to believe in, how to believe, how to pray and how to reach salvation. To me its a personal business. None of us can know more about God than others, so the people who pretend they do, they are simply frauds). Though I am not sure if this is a manly stereotype or not, but there have been studies that say: ‘women are more religious than men’. So I am counting it.

9. I am not a clean/neat freak. I can easily leave dirty utensils in the sink for more than 2 days (if you live with room-mates with different cleaning habits, it stops bothering you after a while). I will prefer living in a clean place, but I am not too much bothered if I am not. It all depends on my work load. Cleaning the house is never on my priority list. I will do it if I have time.

10. Lastly, the most trivial point, which I think most of women in this decade have done: I have travelled alone. I actually travelled all by myself to a new country with no friends or family and no one to pick me up at the airport.

I am also a movie freak and love watching movies in the theater, which I usually do alone. I usually eat alone which means I can eat alone in a restaurant, even in a crowded restaurant. The stares and looks don’t bother me anymore.


As for tagging, I agree with liberalcynic that this tag is easier for women to write about and very difficult for men. Its easier to be a tomboy than a ‘girly’ or ‘sissy’ man. Still I would like to tag few of the male bloggers I do read and like. Hope they take up the tag. So I tag thee: Rachna, Pradeep, Viji, Gopal, Aathira, Sudipta, Broom, Titaxy, Braja. Guess, I have to wear  blue pants after all (I could tag only 9), can I wear blue jeans? Please?

Now I am off to my FB account to join the group officially. Sinners here I come..

P.S.: 1. BTW, if you want to take up the tag please do. I was being too prudish for waiting for it to come around. I don’t think you will be stuck with wrong colors for taking the tag anyway. Right IHM?

2. I should also confess that I like wearing dresses and skirts, and jewelries. I can spend hours shopping for those things as well.

For other things (as camera, laptops and other gadgets), I do like to search the market for the best deal (usually online). Am not sure which category does this fall into. (Buying gadgets vs shopping research: masculine vs feminine traits). Any ideas?

July 4, 2010

The Last Airbender

I spent two hours today afternoon watching M. Night Shyamalan’s version of The Last Airbender. Honestly, the moment I heard that M. Night Shyamalan was making this movie, I had my doubts so today I went to the theater with the lowest possible expectation and yet, I was disappointed!

You see, I am big, as in BIG, fan of the Nickelodeon animated series: Avatar, the last airbender and hence, I had to see the movie. I read the reviews before watching it today and had lowered my expectation (which were anyways very low due to M. Night Shyamalan) even further. Although, almost all the reviewers I read, none of them seemed to have watched the animated series and so they had no clue what they were talking about. These reviews actually make the source material, the animated series, look bad which it is not.

The anime series of Avatar, the last airbender (and technically, the movie The Last Airbender), is about this mythical world where the world is divided in four parts (and this sequence is important): (1) the Air nomads that live in three Air temples in Northern, Southern and Eastern air temples (they are more or less based on Tibetian monks. They are vegetarian, believe in non-violence and meditate a lot); (2) the north and south Water tribe that live on north and south pole (they, more or less, look Indian. Only look wise, other than that, nothing common with India); (3) the Earth kingdom consisting of various cities and towns, most powerful of them is Ba Sing Se (based on Japan? At least the names of Earth Kingdom cities and towns sounded Japanese like Omashu, Kiyoshi, and Ba Sing Se); and (4) the Fire nation that live on a series of islands that have volcanoes (based on south-east Asian countries, particularly Philippines (due to volcanoes)? Though the names in the Fire nation sounded more Chinese. And the fact that the first Fire benders were dragons, I am leaning towards China).


In each nation, there are few people born with the ability to bend their natural element at will, like people born in water tribe can bend water, change its temperature, etc. And then there is Avatar, the one who can master all the four elements and the one who is responsible to maintain the balance in the world. When one Avatar dies, another one is born in the next nation in cycle (cycle being Air, Water, Earth and Fire, told you the sequence is important).  He has to master all the four elements in the cycle starting with his natural element. However, 100 years ago, Avatar named Aang, who was a 12 year old airbender disappeared, just as the Fire nation began its attack on the other nation starting with the massacre of all Airbenders but one. They could do so using the fire-power of a comet that was passing the Earth at that time (it passes the Earth every 100 years. Fire-benders drive their power from Sun, and anything hot as a comet).

Now, 100 years later, the southern Water tribe teenager siblings, Sokka and Katara, discover the Avatar trapped in the glacier (he is still 12, lucky him!). But this Avatar has only mastered his natural element, Air. He has yet to master other elements. Unfortunately, the only water bender left in the southern Water tribe is Katara, who by no means a master. So Sokka, Katara and Aang (the Avatar) decide to go to northern Water tribe to learn Water-bending. The Book-1: Water, is about their journey to North pole to learn the Water bending.

The problem is that Fire-lord son, the banished Prince Zuko wants to capture Avatar so that he can return to his country with honor. He tracks Aang and his friends all through this book and nearly captures Aang quite a few times.

Of course, there are a lot of twist and turns and a lot of characters in the book like, my favorite, Uncle Iroh (Zuko’s uncle), or the strongest Earth-bender King Bhumi (King of Omashu). But then I have to give you blow by blow description of each and every episode of Book 1 to explain all the characters.

The anime series is really great. It is a perfect mixture of action, humor and emotions. And yet, M. Night Shyamalan took that and, completely and totally ruined it. He didn’t only neglect the humor part, he also didn’t let the characters develop any emotional bond with the audience. Like in the end of Book 1, the princess of Northern Water tribe and Sokka’s girl friend, Princess Yue sort of dies (well she goes to the spirit world), and it should be pretty dramatic and emotional scene and yet, we, as audience, didn’t feel anything. You ask, why? I will tell you why, the part of Sokka and Yue developing a romantic relationship was given as a narration of one line:

“My brother Sokka and Pricness Yue instantly became fast friends.”

That’s it! Where is the romance? Where is the emotional bond that audience develops with the Princess so that they would feel sad for her? And its just not this relationship, its all the relationships in the movie, to the extent I wouldn’t have felt a thing had he killed  Aang, the Avatar. Honestly, M. Night Shyamalan, you call yourself a director after this disaster?

And don’t even get me started with the feeble attempt to convert the 2D movie to a 3D (No, they didn’t shoot it in 3D. They simply superimposed it later and it sucks big time), or the fact that you made the fire nation as Indians! Seriously? With the names as Zuko, Azula, Sozin, Iroh, and Ozai? Do they really sounded like Indian names to you? Or did you think India has big volcanoes and it is a country consisting of series of islands? Or, did any of the Fire-nation characters in the animated series look Indian to you? Then, why?

And whatever happened to the sense of humor (the series is hilarious. It has pretty nice one-liners)? Or, simple acting? I mean, how could you okay any of those shots? It was a T-O-R-T-U-R-E.

I will never forgive you for this disaster you call a movie, Mr. M. Night Shyamalan! NEVER!! You ruined one of the bestest series on TV. 

For rest of you, if you haven’t seen the animated series, Avatar: the last airbender, please don’t judge it based on this movie. It’s an amazing series. And if you are into martial arts even the slightest bit, then this series is a must watch for you. The perfect stances, the graceful moves are simply a bliss to watch. I am not exaggerating. I wish I was half as graceful as any of them.

(*Images are linked to their sources)

P.S.: BTW, did you notice that Fire nation islands in the map looks like a smiley wearing shades and may be smoking a cigarette? He is so cute..

July 1, 2010


NaBloPoMo, that is. I wrote a post  everyday for the entire month of June, 2010! Yay!

Thanks to all of you for your comments, your encouragement. I did learn quite a bit. I just hope that the moment doesn’t die and I continue to write as frequently as I have been recently though it might disrupt a bit towards the latter half of this month as I will be travelling quite a bit (lots of photos!!).
On a side note, today I found (by accident) yet another cool male blogger that I have added in my subscription. As no one else has told me about him. I am assuming no one has found him yet, so here is his site. He is hilarious. I especially like his Tysism concept! :)