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the Thinker

Sunday, November 16, 2008
Aesthetic rulers, ascetic saints and eccentric co-travelers – Part 1
The three of them sound like an unusual combination, no? I know, I know…you guys probably do not recognize me any more. The Thinker must be sounding like some yester year’s forgotten celebrity (no, I am not pampering myself, just was trying to find a suitable comparison). This whole year so far has been one of retribution for me, one which I was not prepared for. But any how, that is not something I would pen down in this personal space of mine that seems to be covered with cobwebs now. Time to clean up people! I am a nomad (No need stating it out, Huh?), so recently I returned from an unusual expedition to mainly two very different cities – very different indeed, in tastes, temper, appearance and climate (this particular one deserves special mention, believe me global warming is really catching up). And of course, the trip will remain a memorable one due to a very different set of people who accompanied me on the trip.

The Durga Puja season in Kolkata is chased by a series of other pujas – this is a very common factoid and I know I am not stating a new discovery or something. But being a constant witness to the hoolah, lights and repetitive Puja festivities since the past 13 years, this year I decided to divert a bit. So I accompanied by my mother and some other relatives, went on a tour covering the following cities – Agra, Hardwar and Dehradun/Mussorie (this one’s not worth mentioning though).

We traveled to all these destinations via Indian railways, sleeper class. One word of caution – if affordable I would suggest an AC two or three tier reservation from Kolkata. Of course, if you consider yourself to be an apt replacement for an ingredient in the witch’s boiling cauldron, then you might find the hot, stifling and suffocating sleeper class compartment nothing less than a mere carrier to your destination (You might think likewise if you find money dearer than personal comfort, no offence meant though).

I will not waste time discussing the flaws and triumphs of Indian railways under the reign of Lalu Yadav in recent times. Let me straightaway start from the point our excursion began in Agra. The moment you land in the city you experience two things or one thing for certain. The thing that will inevitably make its impact on you is the torrid heat and humidity in Agra, that too in the month of October (I mentioned global warming above somewhere). To notice the second thing all you need is a bit of observation as you travel through the roads of this heritage city.

The Mughal rule ended in Agra thousands of years back, but it still bears its semblance in the way the city is laid out. Some of the old shops in the city are constructed with mandatory arches, elaborate pillars and floors inlaid in marble stone, a feature that dominated Mughal architecture and engineering as is evident in most of the monuments we visited. The language and speech that people here communicate through, though does not boast of the graceful eloquence of Moslem vocabulary, and still has an imprint of the ancient indulgent and partially hedonistic dynasty that ruled it. Most people use words like ‘Hum,’ ‘Aap,’ ‘Badiya’ and other such words in their daily speech. It might almost give you a feeling that you just finished watching Jodha Akbar.

But the best part comes when you travel through some of the ancient and still popular tourist spots of the city and hear their story over and over again. I am sure many of you must have visited Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri once (or more than once) in your lifetime. My narration of these familiar Mughal constructions might sound like a repetition. But I do hope my words describing these places might evoke some past memories that you people built if and when you visited them.

Fatehpur Sikri was the first spot that we planned to visit in Agra and therein we landed on our second day of stay in the city. As we entered through the colossal entrance of the magnificent monument Emperor Akbar constructed back in the Mughal era, the first thing that stung our senses was the pricking heat that made its impact through the blazing floor of red sand stones. We literally limped past the red stoned floor. Our guide informed us that these stones were specially ordered by the Emperor from Rajasthan (benefits of having a Rajput princess for a wife).

I am sure many have already visited the place therefore I will not bore you guys by spelling out facts that many of you must have read in history books or known during your travails. But I will surely indulge in describing a few details about the place that intrigued me and definitely raised my admiration for Mughal architecture and engineering. There is this place in Sikri where you shall find innumerable graves encarved upon the floor. These are meant to be sacred and I remember our guide actually scolded someone who accidentally stepped on one of them. These tombs are those of the disciples, followers and possibly descendants of the famous Muslim priest, Salim Chishti. The story goes that Akbar had three wives (yes, its true. There were only three of them, and not 15 or a 1000), but no children from any of the three (does that ring any bell about an ancient and most revered Indian Mythological lore about a Hindu King with three wives and 4 mighty and godly sons?).

Anyways, Akbar went to Salim Chishti and implored him to bless him to obtain an heir. The Saints’ blessings culminated into the birth of Jodha Bai’s son Jahangir, also know as Mohammad Salim. It was in the memory of this famous saint that Akbar ordered the construction of this site in Sikri where a homage is paid to the great saint and his people. Here in we also witnessed a most innovative technique of Muslim architecture. In those days when technology was not as advanced as it is today, the Mughals definitely had perceived the concept of air-conditioning an area through unique measures. See the picture above which shows a long rectangular tunnel leading to an open space? These tunnels were made in order to let cool air inside the hall and these acted as air conditioners during those days. Well, I don’t know whether I am able to make it explanatory or not but if you guys take a careful look at this picture, such tunnels were constructed throughout the hall where Akbar addressed his ‘Navratna’ sabha.

The picture of the locked door that seems to lead to a cellar of some kind is actually a secret tunnel leading to Delhi borders. Rumours are that the tunnel that was opened discreetly to let the infamous courtesan Anarkali escape the borders of the city, was one similar to this.

The tomb of Prophet Salim Chishti is inlaid in pure white marble stones. As soon as you step on the shining white surface of the tomb from the hot stinging red stone surface, a feeling of deep soothing calmness caresses your feet. This is the virtue of pure marble. Inside the tomb, especially the resting place where people offer chadars (embroidered synthetic sheets offered as a sign of respect to a Muslim burial) and flowers, a short dome adorned with shell stone decorations that change colours in accordance to the light entering the place, roof the dargah (burial place of the Muslim saint).

Here in it becomes necessary to mention that our insufferable trip manager started grumbling as we decided to offer a chadar and our prayers to the Saint. Actually the trip was planned like this – we visit Fatehpur Sikri first and then Mathura and Vrindavan. The plan obviously was a bad one for it was too crowded and we had requested him to arrange for a visit to Taj and Fatehpur on one day and keep the other two places on another day. The man as I mentioned was stupidly stubborn. So he started to shout saying that we will be late for the other two places. Anyways, in spite of all oppositions we managed to enter the tomb of Salim Chishti.

From there we took a look at outstanding Buland Darwaza, a supreme piece of aesthetic and artistic workmanship.

From there we started for Mathura and Vrindavan. The trip which had started with a promising spirit in the beginning started to deteriorate from this point. First, it took us a lot of time to leave Sikri’s premises due to a road jam. After an hours’ delay as we started on our journey to Vrindavan, we got stuck in another jam in the highway. We did not have any lunch, so all of us were obviously hungry. It was almost 8 in the evening when we reached Vrindavan. Our initial plan was that we will visit Vrindavan and then have tea and refreshments at a stall. And then on we shall visit Mathura.

However, thanks to our trip organiser as well as some of our co-travelers, everything got messed up. By the time, we reached Vrindavan, the temple was on the verge to close for the day. The main temple where the idols of Lord Krishna and Radha were kept was already closed for the day. When we came out of the temple premises and entered a stall to eat, half of our traveling party started to scream and shout that we shall be late for Mathura. Their confusion was so pathetic that they decided to leave the stall after ordering tea and refreshments. On the other hand, our trip manager starting screaming over us like some school teacher who tries to discipline his students to line up in a queue.

There a small suggestion here, please do not travel with people who don’t know much and speak more. It ruins everything! After a lot of irritating words being exchanged and with empty stomachs (some with empty heads as well), we started for Mathura. The Mathura temple visit was a good one though. The temple truly appeared majestic and we were also assisted by our primates during this visit. It almost appeared that they were holding some sort of an urgent conference. They had a whole group that trotted over the temple roof straight in a compact group.

The Radha Krishna temple visit of Mathura was an unforgettable experience. It was the first time I got an idea regarding an Indian medieval fortress. We entered through the dungeon where Lord Krishna’s parents, Vasudev and Devaki were incarcerated by his wicked uncle, Kamsa. There is a staircase which leads to a ‘chabutara’ (a place where pigeons are fed).

There are pockets of stalls inside the temple premises that sell idols of Lord Krishna, and other objects used for puja. One of my cousins whose mission since the journey commenced was to acquire a flute from Mathura, rejoiced at the sight as most of the shops had them in abundance.

Sadly, no pictures could be taken of this sight as the entrance of the temple, security personnel asked us to keep our belongings elsewhere – especially cameras, mobiles and stuff.

The main Radha Krishna temple of Mathura was simply a heavenly experience. There is flight of stairs that when you climb up almost gives a feeling that you are ascending up to some divine abode. Of course, I am being slightly emotional here being a devotee of Lord Krishna. I guess Anand might be able to guess what I am talking about.

The idols here are one of the most majestic ones I have ever seen. Again, I regret not having the opportunity to click even one picture. Not only Lord Krishna and Radha, it had several idols – those of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, Lord Hanumana, Lord Shiva and Devi Durga on her lion. The temple ceiling was something to watch out. There had paintings of the Raslila (The dance of Lord Krishna with his female devotees, the gopis) and all the events that trace back to the eventful childhood of Supreme Godhead, Lord Krishna. It was a full flurry of the resplendent colours and aestheticism.

The day after that we went mainly to three places namely Dayal Bagh, Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. Dayal Bagh was founded by Radhasoami Satsang Sabha. The place is more like a homage point for disciples of Shri Radhaswamiji. But the main attraction here lies in the walls that built the place. Yes, I know many know already what I am referring to. It almost appears that an artist decided to pick up a hammer and an engraver to chisel out his poetry on the stones. Sadly, here again our cameras and mobiles were kept under surveillance at the security counter. So, no pictures again.

While leaving the Dayal Bagh premises something sad occurred. We were hounded by travel guides, and accidentally as one of them nudged their way in, my mother tripped and fell on her face on the road. Her knees were badly bruised. After putting some cold water on her wounds and some pain relieving medicines, we started for Agra Fort.

To be continued….
Friday, April 11, 2008
No – The most basic monosyllabic word with simply two letters in it that states the negative in any expression, emotion or anything for that matter with such definite clarity and assertiveness that no other word can perhaps.

This is the word we use daily perhaps over a million times to deny, refuse or maybe lie.

This is the word an employer says to his employee who earlier in the day had sent across a mail requesting for a leave.

This is the word a mother might use on her son who makes a hue and cry on the street as he points out to her the ice cream trolley across the road.

This is the word a daily worker gets to hear from his master when he asks for a hike in his wages.

This is the word a youngster gets to hear from the girl he has been dreaming of throughout his college days, when finally he asks her out.

This is the word a wife gets to hear from her husband whom she loves more than life, when she asks him whether he loves her or not.

This is the word an 8 year old gets to hear from a teacher when he spells outs a word wrong.

This is the word a retired person gets to hear many times a day at the pension office when he asks at different tables whether his work will be done soon.

This is the word a concerned person, who has waited for long over a critical operation of his beloved one, might receive from a doctor when he asks him whether it was a successful operation.

This is the word a guy who is in a hurry might hear from a cab driver when he tells him his destination.

This is the word we all use so many times in a day, in so many cases and so easily. Just a thought- Wish there was place more a few more ‘Yes’-es than ‘Nos’ in this world. Amen.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Love is so crippling at times
It drives a spear through my heart
Until all my blood drains and
My entire being pines.

Then It sits back and laughs
As if it were a joke of some kind
I am left with gashes all over
And gather my shattered halves.

Hope is so blinding at times;
It leads me to a mirage
telling me what paradise lies ahead;
when truth pierces me with spines.

And then It sits back to watch
how I scream and cry.
Later I hear Its frozen whisper saying,
‘You were easy to catch.’

Time can be deceiving at times.
It lured me with a picture
where It wove golden threads of bliss;
And the best of my times.

And then It stood in its entire prime
To see how much can I bear
The sound of hollow dreams
And its mirthless chimes.

So here I stand, a league apart,
Hurt, betrayed and deceived;
Still counting carcasses
of broken dreams,
of dead hopes;
and most of all,
chunks of my bleeding heart.

Note: With this piece, I have completed my triology that started with Cleft. I wanted the pieces to connect through a common thread of thoughts or ideas; I wanted to link them through an emotion or a emotions that are similar in nature and the where differences are mainly situational. Therefore, the despondency is common in all three. Lastly, I wanted them to flow in to the next piece so that somehow the readers could find a connection between the three somewhere. I do not know whether I succeeded in doing so. Only your comments will explain.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why is Beauty so predictable?
So conventional, so usual?
Isn’t Plain beautiful too?
In its sincerity, isn’t it natural?

Why does Beauty have to be so spotless?
And obscenely bloodless and fair?
Doesn’t the moon have spots too?
And still a radiance so rare?

Why is Beauty always deemed young?
Juvenile and tender?
Isn’t Serenity appealing too?
In its deep, calm lines and silver?

Why is Beauty always measured?
In inches, feet or with mere eyes?
Can’t it be stout and not slender?
Can’t an irregular structure surmise?

‘Whining will not change anything, ugly toad.’
They looked down on me as they spoke.
‘I am aware,’ I replied.
You need not poke.’

‘What good are you without beauty?’
‘You are an object without charm;
A flesh without taste, if you aren’t pretty.’
They waited as I started, disarmed.

‘Yes, I don’t have the right flesh,’
A cruel smile flashed as I said.
‘But I own thoughts breathing fire;
ideas of which dreams are made.’

‘I weave words that spell wonder
I don’t have beauty, but I am not barren
I have springs of an elixir that blooms all seasons;
while your beauty remains frozen.’

Their milk white turned dark purple;
and anger incensed as I continued.
‘I create all that is beautiful;
I paint with mysterious hues.’

The venom now poured out fuming.
The beauty was nowhere to be seen.
Bitter rage those eyes bred
and rained contempt as they said.

‘Unfortunate scum, you breed disgust
Men lust only for likes of us
Your lame words will only attract scorn;
and that they must.’

‘You are a sorry thing to look at;
A sting to eyes and a bane for senses
Without beauty none will fall
for your poor defenses.’

They stormed away while I thought alone.
Gathered all that Creation had gifted
And gave birth to this piece
which ‘Beauty’ itself has crafted.

Beauty could be eternal, a thing forever;
but does it always usurp?
Does it have to be used and not felt?
Is it not born, always made up?

So I am not beautiful the way They are;
And I may not ever be.
But will that mean…
That there is no beauty in me?
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Looked in the mirror this morning,
saw something strange,
I have been cleft into two;
a complete change.

Looked deeper into the image,
cast before me.
My physical being is still intact;
But this is not who I used to be.

What splinter, what fissure then
caused such a change?
Something was completely new
But something forever deranged.

What is that new element?
Does it suit me?
Maybe it does,
But this is not who I used to be.

There are deep lines along the cracks,
Dark, black and red.
My veins used to be bluer before.
Now they look so dead.

What are those heavy lumps on one side?
They almost pound me.
There is one with some colour in it.
But this is not who I used to be.

One half still bears relics of who I was.
My fading colours flickered through the gaps in it.
They could have been brighter;
Immortal, alive and breathing with spirit.

The other half stared back saying,
‘But I have some colours too.
They are not like the ones you had;
But then, they are new.’

Glanced, as it gleamed with them.
They were luminous in parts but mostly misty.
They were in me and ME now;
But this is not who I used to be.

‘Should I be content? Should I be cross?’
Both halves were silent, none talked.
I sat back thinking in a huge stretch of seclusion
Time had chalked.

What was mine is lost largely.
What remains is not fully me.
What I have is still a mystery.
Was this how it was meant to be?

‘They are yours, and so they shall ever be,’
The halves spoke unified and looked at me.
‘Yes, I know,’ I replied.
‘But this is not who I used to be.’
Sunday, November 04, 2007
FREE, aren't we?
India completed sixty years of independence this year. “Big deal!” Someone smirked from the side on seeing me write this. “It completed that two months back and you remembered that now. Awoke from a long slumber or what?”
“Don’t tell us you will bore us with a very belated patriotic post now?” said another voice filled with ridicule and contempt. I replied back with a wry smile, “I remember that. Don’t worry; I am not exactly in a patriotic frame of mind. Was just wondering exactly what does freedom mean to us at this stage and specifically, what does it signify for the ‘WEAKER SEX’ today.

Read a news report today morning and remembered other incidents synonymous to it. So, here is my overview of the kind of freedom we tend to enjoy even now:

Every second in this country a women is raped, molested, accosted and assaulted sexually; either in a remote and inaccessible area concealed from our view or in a BPO center security van, which is meant to carry her safely to her home from office or vice versa. It happens in a bus, train, auto, in a school, college or tuition, a hospital or a clinic; or practically any nook or corner. After being ravaged, most times the women are either killed or some organ of their body is mutilated in a manner so that she remains mute and helpless for the rest of her life. FREE, aren’t we- to rampage, ravage and brutally destroy HER integrity and honour to satisfy our savage LUST?

Every minute in this country, in some place where all eyes do not reach, the air is filled with the deafening cry of an infant as she is denied her right to live by the hands of the person who brought her into this world. Her central flaw remains the fact that she is a SHE. People around watch silently as the newborn is drowned into a bowl of milk or if not killed, dumped in a trash can or at the foot of a temple or clinic. But there are a few ‘LUCKY’ ones who don’t even have to open their eyes into this world because they are murdered in the womb that holds them. FREE, aren’t we-to snatch, end and deny HER life just because HER gender is not suited to our PREFERENCE?

Every day in this country, behind closed doors a girl is consumed by a vociferous inferno that was ignited to get some good riddance and to avenge her father who could not pay the promised amount during her marriage, owing to the fact that he had already sold his land or every last material possession to get his daughter married. SHE is fortunate if the flames kill her rather than leaving her half burnt with angry red scars and deep painful burns for the rest of her life. FREE, aren’t we-to burn, beat and torture HER at the hands of our merciless GREED?

Every month in this country, a mother is thrown out of her house by her children, where she was wedded and brought years back simply because she becomes a ‘BURDEN’ they can no longer afford or she is no longer of any specific ‘USE’ to them. Some are abandoned in a decrepit old age home so that they can die there in peace. FREE, aren’t we-to expel, eradicate, abandon and isolate HER because SHE no longer serves any of our selfish NECESSITIES?

In every office of this country, sometime or the other one can hear snide remarks about a girl from her colleagues about her recently acquired promotion. “She got it before us this time, did she not?” shoots one of them. “She is bound to; she’s got it all-body, face and sweet words for all. Must have slept her way up,” replies another. A third guy laughs at their remarks without knowing or realising how long she stayed back in office and worked laboriously; leaving her three year old fatherless child back at home waiting for her to return till late hours of night. FREE, aren’t we-to disrespect, disregard and humiliate HER just because we do not have any other way to channel our vain JEALOUSIES?

Every year a girl is rejected somewhere because of her height, face or complexion, simply because she does not fit to the idyllic notion of beauty that many of us cater to. She bears the brunt of it throughout her life and keeps hearing comments from people who have no other business but to make cruel, embarrassing jokes about her physical being. FREE, aren’t we-to reject, scorn and ridicule HER just because we cannot tame our inherent MEANESS?

And now for the biggest joke that you get to hear sometime every year-International Womens Day, Mother’s Day, Sister’s Day and all other such lame excuses to sell some cards and increase profits of retail stores. “There she goes, another feminist in the making,” someone snorted. “Oh, don’t bother, these women have nothing to do but complain about everything,” another one added.

So what? FREE, aren’t they-to say and do whatever they have done to others like me? To rip me, whip me; slash my existence, to crush my being, to wipe my respect, to shut my voice? So what are we waiting for? Let’s celebrate 60 years of barbaric, uncontrolled and spineless independence for many more such years to come. After all, this is what we ‘LIVE’ for, DON’T WE?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Shh...they are here!
They are smart, they are suave and can reach places where people like us can hardly think of. Before you people start guessing, I am not talking about sting operations, video cameras and super computers. But yes, they do come close except for the difference that I am talking about humans; really intelligent at that with an IQ of around 140 or maybe more than that. From time to time, they have appeared in all ages, sizes and packages. You must have understood by now and if not, then I am talking about crime detectives, spies or secret agents, whatever you choose to call them.

In real life, private investigation is not such a glossy occupation and hardly does anyone reach the stature of the men and women I am going to mention somewhere ahead in the post. But as reel life entities or literary characters, they manage to arrest our attention through their superior intelligence, investigation techniques and deduction methods.

So without further delay, I begin my anthology of some such men and women about whom many of us have read some time in our lives and perhaps desired similar wits, guts and also looks in some cases.

Sherlock Holmes

Creator: Arthur Conan Doyle

Appeared in: Books and later on in teleseries and movies

Nationality: British

Sidekick: Dr.Watson

Physical attributes: Tall, lean with keen, sharp eyes and a famous hook nose.

IQ Factor: What makes reading Sherlock Holmes so enjoyable are his methods, techniques and of course his extraordinary power to deduct possible conclusions in each of the cases he handled. Holmes investigative craft always appears to be following the scientific law of 'Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.' For instance, people who have read the chapter where Dr. Watson is for the first time introduced to Holmes, would remember how Homes ended up telling where Dr. Watson had arrived from and how he had suffered from ill health without any exchange of words with the latter. At the very introductory chapter, we get a glimpse of Holmes' extraordinary observation and deduction power. He explains the reasons that could have lead him to guess Dr.Watson's physical condition and past just by observing the colour of his skin. Infact, what makes the character even more endearing is the fact that Holmes follows very bleak and apparently incomprehensible clues to solve the mystery. And at the end of it all, when he explains his theory part by part, it appears to the readers that they could have easily pieced the whole story together by themselves, had they payed a little more attention.

Negative aspects: smoking and occasional use of narcotic drugs. Also, his temperament could be too clinical at times and make him appear a bit devoid of human emotions.

Tools he used: Mostly disguise and spy glasses. During those days, there were no computers or other sophisticated devices to track criminals. But Holmes it appeared, had a brain that could surpass all these gimmicks.

Hercule Poirot

Creator: Agatha Christie

Appeared in: Books and much like Holmes in many television series

Nationality: Belgian

Sidekicks: Miss Lemon, Captain Arthur Hastings

Physical attributes: He was not a eye candy for sure. Viewed from the eyes of other characters, he appears to have an egg shaped head, short in height, a funny moustache and is also known to suffer from a limp in one of his legs. However, it is seldom being mentioned. The only attribute that might evoke some interest are his bright, green eyes; flashing with ideas and questions.

IQ Factor: Hercule Poirot methods are fairly simpler. In most of his stories, the focus in on the train of clues and connecting them together logically to get to the clue. In a way, somewhat similar to Holmes' method of investigation. However, what sets Hercule Poirot apart is his manner of psychological probing into the nature of the crime and that of the criminal. Of course, the psychological factor is relevant to Holmes' manner of investigation too. But the way Poirot chose to investigate was less clinical and the stress was more on behaving like a sympathiser or some kind of a counsellor; to whom the concerned suspect or person found easy to confess. What adds the charm to Poirot's character is this very quality of his, i.e, to make people speak without use of any pressure or contraints.

Negative aspects: I do not remember any vices as such, however, the only aspect in Poirot's techniques that might irk the reader is his habit to conceal facts till the very end of the story.

Tools: His conversational skills proved to be his most priced asset as far as solving mysteries was concerned in many of his novels. Other than that much like Holmes, he too depended on clues and possible logical deduction.

Inspector Jacques Clouseau

Creator: Blake Edwards, Maurice Richlin

Appeared in: All the Pink Panther films, (latest one I watched was played by Steve Martin)

Nationality: French

Sidekicks: Tucker

Physical attributes: Well, in my opinion there are no as such set parameters for Inspector Jacques Clouseau on grounds of physical characteristics. He has been played by actors like Peter Sellers (in most of the Pink Panther Films), Alan Arkin, Roger Moore and recently Steve Martin; and each one of them have added their own style to the character. However, two things that continue to remain constant in the character are his moustache and his insufferable French accent. Other than that, Clouseau as we all know, is marked by his buffoonery and wrong trail of investigations. But that's more to the emotional build up of the character.

IQ Factor: He is perhaps the only one in the league who lacks this factor (not completely though). Clouseau's antics and manner of pursuing crime evokes hillarity rather than suspense; and that continues to remain the main motive behind the creation of Inspector Clouseau as a character. As mentioned earlier, most of the cases he handles are far removed from any kind of logical thinking or for that matter, sanity. Clouseau should be nicknamed 'chaos' for coming up with ludicrous criminal theories and for the series of accidents he brings upon himself every time he is on a case. Moreover, he clearly comes across as the most stupid and idiotic of his league in his acts of clumsiness. Nevertheless, he is lovable and the exaggeration that governs most of his characteristics continue to remain the main source of enjoyment for the audiences. And what more, even though it is mostly due to sheer chance and luck, the case does get solved in the end. Also, he has a whole animated version to himself, which is really popular. Now, how many buffoo...I mean detectives can boast of that.

Negative aspects: This would be a kind of repetition, but everyone knows he does not have the brains to be a detective.

Tools: Excuse me?

Feluda (Pradosh Chandra Mitter)

Creator: Satyajit Ray

Appeared in: Books, teleseries and films

Nationality: Indian (Ah! at last...)

Sidekicks: Topshe (cousin) and Lalmohan Ganguly (also known as Jatayu, a famous fiction writer)

Physical attributes: Feluda represents the quintessential Bengali middle class culture and attitude. His appearance fits that part well. He is introduced by Ray as a young Detective, with sharp eyes, an intelligent face and a tall lean frame.

IQ Factor: He is Ray's answer to Sherlock Holmes as far as brains are concerned. Most of Feluda's investigative methods and techniques are based on logic, clues and inference and all these qualities are governed by a razor sharp observation power. However, unlike Holmes, he is not completely clinical in his observation. There is this element of righteousness that compliments Feluda's sharp intellect. Feluda's knowledge reserve mostly comes from books and that is manner in which Ray likes to potray his sleuth-an educated psyche with a middle class upbringing and a distinct adherence to Bengali culture. At times of course, he does seek assistance from Topshe and under rare circumstances from Jatayu. There is also this interesting quality of Feluda's, to pose questions to his cousin in the form of puzzles and riddles; that percolates down to the readers and audiences too (For reference, watch 'Joy Baba Felunath; incase you do not understand Bengali, these movies come with sub-titles)

Negative aspects: smoking again

Tools: Books, logical thinking and yes, an occasional use of a revolver or a disguise.

James Bond 007

Creator: Ian Fleming

Appeared in: Novels, anthologies and of course there are infamous movies to his credit

Nationality: British

Sidekicks: Felix Leiter (assistant to Bond in most of the early works), and of course, seductive women.

Physical attributes: There is no need to explicate on this part. James Bond has a reputation of being a lady killer and he is quite artfull at that too. Most of the females in the movies or stories are enamoured by his attractive personality and of course his looks. Infact, Bond makes use of this to his best advantage. Well, nicely backbrushed hair, a well-built and toned masculine physique and intense blue eyes are some of his physical attributes that makes the ladies in his movies go omph.

IQ Factor: I believe Bond is definitely one of the most successfully created fictional secret agents of all times; and his creators have kept in mind everything that is necessary to make a popular and commercially viable hero. What makes Bond stand apart is the fact that not only he uses conventional methods to reach at the bottom of a mystery, but he also uses a lot of required gimmicks that appeal to the modern audiences. However, at times Bond episodes appear to be rather predictable and filmy..but then, they are meant to be so and are a success at that. Also, what is unique about Bond's method of investigation is his flamboyance and stylish way of carrying himself. Also, the cases he handles are huge scale blockbuster cases just like his movies, abundant with all types of international smugglers, drug peddlers, diamond thieves and other big shots. There is hardly anything that can be termed as 'common' is Bond films.

Negative aspects: In my opinion, womanising.

Tools: Once again, he is perhaps the only one in this list so far, who has got an enviable array of spy devices to his use. Dagger shoes, Bug detectors, watches with wires to strangle villians, tape recording cameras, shooting cigarettes, Minox B 8*11 Camera, pocket snap trap, fake finger prints, voice changer, Submarine car, Special leather belts, digital binoculars..phew! There are more of them, but I guess you all got the picture..so he is the whizkid among spies.

Nancy Drew

Creator: Edward Stratemeyer (you may see the name of Carolyn Keene on the books but Nancy as a character was first created and outlined in detail in 1930s, by Stratemeyer)

Appeared in: Novels and recently I believe on the big screen too.

Nationality: American

Sidekicks: George Fayne, Bess Marvin and Ned Nickerson (Nancy's boyfriend).

Physical attributes: Nancy has the looks that essentially defines a young American teenage heroine. Blonde hair, blue eyes, slim and a medium height.

IQ Factor: She is the only female detective in this whole list and she is quite good at her job. In most cases, she is successful. Many of you may frown upon including her in this list; but then none of us can deny that almost all of us have read Nancy Drew Mysteries sometime during the teenage years of our lives. Most of her cases revolve around Riverdale and the crimes committed include buglary, theft, haunted mansions, murders etc. But so far, most of the cases revolve around circumstantial evidence and old conventional investigation methods. Nancy might not appeal to the more matured readers and it is not meant to as well. Infact, some of the situations might appear predictable and the most of the chapters in a book are mostly ended with a element of sudden suspense or rather should I say 'forced suspense.' Nancy Drew Mysteries are mostly cherished upon by teenagers or the like. But nevertheless, she is one of the most popular detectives of all times and famous at that too. Being the only female in this batch, she did deserve a mention.

Negative aspects: I don't remember any as of now.

Tools: Mostly interrogation and following people. Following clues like others. No hi-fi tools for her.