Thursday, January 31, 2008 3 reflections

Requesting a childhood bygone

Dear reader,

It is a warm summer afternoon and an eleven year old boy is impatiently sifting through a shocking mound of bound books that lay haphazardly around his room. He seems disturbed at the fact that his quest for that one book that would please him does not seem to be anywhere. ‘They all look the same!’ he yells in absolute frustration as he realizes having his hundred something books bound with the same colored cardboard paper was probably not the best move.

‘I need to number them….else this is insanity…’ he continues to mumble as his mother walks in with a glass of hot Bournvita.

‘Oh God!’ she gasps at the war that has ensued around his room. ‘What on earth are you doing? Clean this place up right now! What a mess!’

The boy ignores her and continues hunting for that golden collection of pristine papers filled with information that soothes his soul.

‘Yeah…I’ll do it…’ he says without looking at her as his hands continue to rummage through dozens of piles that beg for organization.

‘Hmmph….telling you anything is useless. I will have to do it myself,’ she yells as she walks out of the room leaving the drink on his table. ‘Don’t forget to drink your milk! I will be back in ten minutes and it better be gone!’ she adds before her presence is completely gone.

Just when he is about to give up his unending quest for the impossible…it happens. He sees it mischievously hiding behind a few other peers with that very familiar coffee stain on the right hand corner. He recalls having placed it on a table with that stain and having annoyed his father at almost spoiling a well bound book. He grabs it without a care in the world and hurriedly opens it to ensure it is indeed the ‘chosen one’. And it is. The pleasant aroma of aging pages and the comfortably lazy haze of fading ink remind him of the infinite seeming love he will have for it and its kind. He piles up all the remaining books in under a minute – to avoid his mother’s yelling again – and picks up his glass of sweet health and settles down to skim through his beloved book at leisurely pace.

This event took place in 1989. The same eleven year old boy is going to be thirty in March of 2008 but his love for those wrinkly pages filled with the wonder called life still exists with a passionate adherence.

Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Diamond Comics, Indrajal Comics are only a few of those Indian comic factories that kept me very busy as a child. Be it the tales of Birbal’s wit or the justice of Kaalia the crow. Be it the musings of Suppandi’s never ending tryst with idiocy or the hilarious jungle episodes of Shikari Shambu. Be it Tantri the Mantri’s infinite yet vain attempts at getting rid of his emperor or the wisdom of Naseeruddin Hodja’s one liners. These were beyond characters on a printed sheet of paper. These were individuals who taught me and millions of kids like me a lesson – to be positive and to live life with a smile. There was education in everything we used to read as children. I remember begging my father to get me a copy of the latest comic from every book store we would pass by. He would affectionately ask me every single time ‘Don’t you already have it?’ to which I would eagerly say ‘No!’ and the book would be mine.

I had collected over a thousand books with stories from all over the world – Superman, Spiderman, Tarzan, Phantom – the ghost who walks, Mandrake the Magician, Tintin, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Ritchie Rich and the list goes on and on.

As the magic figure of three and zero approaches me, I find myself wanting to head back to those days of blissful ignorance. Somewhere between the ages of 15 and 25, life took over so bad that these characters, who had loved me and taught me so much for so many years just disappeared into tragic silence. I do not know if it was the arrogant teenager in me who thought ‘comics are for children’ and wanted to become an ‘adult’ as soon as possible or if it was just the sheer ignorant side of me who never realized that comics have no age. I do not know. As it turned out, being a child and drowning in these timeless classics was a much better way to look at life than having to grow up and be part of a world that is anything but positive. Being an ignorant nobody who found peace in classics such as ‘Jataka Tales’ or ‘Panchatantra’ was probably a better choice than having to get introduced a mad rat race for something as evasive as material success.

Ah! To request a childhood bygone seems like a far shot now. I guess the trick is to never really kill that child in you after all. As for me, I am sure I will get it back into my life sometime soon.



IF you are interested in getting back there -
Tuesday, January 01, 2008 3 reflections

Shubhashaya featured in Kannada Prabha

Dear reader,

A good friend of mine - Venu Vinod - happens to be a reporter for Kannada Prabha. He interviewed me yesterday about my joint venture with Ravi Shankar - - and that interview appeared in today's edition of Kannada Prabha/Page 7. Here is the article for your viewing.