I hate to admit but I have truly fallen short on my reading habit. Growing up I spent most of my waking hours with my nose buried in a book. Every morning my mother chided me for bringing a book to the table. She tried hard to pry the book away from me, but gave up knowing nothing good comes out of fighting with a teenager’s stubborn will. I lived dangerously back then and carried a book with me everywhere I went. They were my constant companions. No place was too uncomfortable to open one and get away from the normal monotonous life. My mother still recalls the times when she could get me to eat her unsavory porridge for I was too busy trying to finish reading page 21 of the Famous Five.
I was fascinated by the stories and the thrilling lives these characters lived. From Phantom‘s exploits protecting the Bandar people in the deep jungles of Dakali to the mind boggling cases tackled by the three teenage boys of California’ from the quirky rib tickling adventures of a Gaul warrior and his overweight best friend who has a healthy appetite for wild boars to my desi Bengali noir detective Byomkesh Bakshi – I have always been interested in their stories of fighting crime, solving mysteries and leading a life most adventurous.
It was not a surprise that I found my teenage idol in Tintin, the Belgian detective. Accompanied by his faithful pet dog Snowy, his exploits took him around the world. He introduced me to the ancient culture of Mayans in The Secret of the Sun, the secret of wealth in the Gulf in The Black Gold, the new world of the Native American Indians and mafia boss Al Capone in Tintin in America, the drug and opium trade in Japan in The Blue Lotus and many more. He was a globetrotter who rubbed shoulders with members of the aristocracy and bureaucracy alike.
Tintin counted Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus among his fast friends. The former was an ex-sailor who had a fondness for alcohol and could be depended to deliver some of the choicest cuss words ever imagined. A few for your reading delight
The latter was an absent-minded professor who also suffered from a minor case of deafness. He often misheard words and came up with the most hilarious replies. He alone could have heard and understood a reference to amnesia as milk of magnesia!
Good old days! How strange…I still remember the stories and their characters as clear as it was yesterday. Tintin made my teenage years awesome. He taught me its wonderful to travel to foreign lands and meet new people and how important it is to respect local culture and sensitivities. He taught me that it is okay if your friends don’t believe your story, but they will always remain your friends. Above all he inspired me to question, be inquisitive, to check facts when in doubt and to never assume.
Sigh! Those were the best times of my life. Writing this post made me realize its time I bring them back to relive some of those old memories.