Skip to main content

Tell me a story

For the Suppandi, Shikari Shambu, Kaalia, Tantri and Chimpu in all of us: 

For a kid, moving abroad is a peculiar experience. You are aware of the gravitas of leaving behind coddling grandparents, friends and every other familiar sight, sound and smell.

Yet, at that age, you're unable to express any of the sadness and dread in a coherent way. Even as you struggling to come up with anything that won't get you punished for 'being a nuisance' or 'in the way', the move is already over. One minute, you're waking up to the smell of filter coffee & 501 soap and the sounds of grandma grating coconut while the cooker whistles merrily; the next minute, you wake up because of the oppressive silence, don't see a fan, don't recognise the smell of carpet freshener and are introduced to the terms body clock, jet lag and dawn.

And Ovaltine... *shudder*.

So, what is a kid to do when he realises that classmates don't stay in the same neighbourhood, never mind the same building ? That the telly doesn't show Vicco, Nirma or Rasna ads anymore? That the only two things to watch on the telly are camel races and a game called football (which you're watching for the first time) with commentary in Arabic? What do you do to stave off loneliness?

What the kid does is start reading voraciously, with an appetite that completely unnerves the parents and results in stacks of books lying around in every room. In the summer holidays, when he visits India, the kid continues to blaze through the pages, leaving friends puzzled about the drastic change, and relatives pleased because they think the kid will eventually read IIT tomes with the same fervour.


In his cousin's house, the kid discovers a wooden cupboard completely filled with hardbound stacks of Indian comics. Only these comics are amazingly versatile, filled with stories from Indian mythology, science, adventure, clever talking crows, simpletons and even haplessly charming hunters who don't hunt. It is, in literary terms, manna from heaven.

Every summer, the kid comes back from Abu Dhabi, opens the cupboard, selects a random book and is lost for the rest of the trip. And then, one day he returns to find the cupboard and the books gone. "We had to burn everything because of termites" says the phlegmatic uncle. The kid has no reply.

But he continued to read other books and till today, has a decent knowledge of Indian mythology. He has not stopped reading. 

Dear Uncle Pai - Thank you for the stories. R.I.P

Song for the moment: Time is on my side - The Rolling Stones


k said…
Loved the post. I could completely relate to it and yes, I still have a hard-bound set of Indian comics with me.
Anonymous said…
:) that set will be a priceless collector's item one day.
bhumika said…
You really don't need fancy words to narrate how somebody touched your life in such a significant manner. It just pours out naturally, like it did in this post.

Anonymous said…
@ bhumika - tankoo. and nice to see you online again.
Shekhar said…
nice one..waiting for your next post..Shepa

Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…

Country Comforts

Part 1

With timing that was far more impeccable than their usual service, the MSRTC went on strike 2 days before Diwali over a pay dispute. I've traveled on their buses for close to 9 years and know full well just how popular they can be just before a major holiday. The chaotic crowd at Dadar is so dense, one would only need to introduce a few Naga sadhus into the mix and hey presto! we've got ourselves a brand new Kumbh Mela. Albeit one where getting out of Bombay ASAP is the only kind of salvation devotees seek. 

News and newspapers being what they are at present, I was unaware of the jolly bus crisis until Wednesday morning when a well-wisher asked how I proposed to go home for the holidays, flourishing the paper in my face with the reluctant panache of a small-town magician. Realising the gravity of the situation, I looked up train schedules and was stunned to find General category seats available on an outstation train departing later that afternoon. As far as I could see, …