So long, and thanks for all the memories

As a child of the β€˜90s, there are a few things that I will always remember fondly, such as Goldspot, which sadly, was phased out before it could star in a porno-style ad with Katrina. Then there was ’90s Bollywood, an action-packed world where Sunny Deol could kill thirty guys just by dancing at them.

And then, dear readers, there was Tinkle.

Tinkle was the literary equivalent of a candy bar that unleashed a bunch of delightful flavours with every turn of the page, be it Shikari Shambhu, Suppandi the simpleton or Raja Hooja, who, for some reason, reminds me of Nitin Gadkari.

So it was with much sadness that I read about the recent demise of Anant Pai, the father of Tinkle and fondly known to his snotty-nosed readers as Uncle Pai.

This was a man who, having lost his parents at the age of two, went on to create a world of wonder for millions of children across India with Tinkle and the Amar Chitra Katha comic series. (The latter re-introduced kids to the Indian epics, and most importantly, taught them that women in ancient India had huge bazoongas. Also, it seemed that the Savita Bhabhi-meets-Munni-Badnaam look was in vogue back then, helped by the fact that the weather was much more pleasant, because global warming hadn’t been invented yet. See, Uncle Pai taught us to think scientifically too.)

I must’ve started reading Tinkle at about age six or so. Of course, this is abysmal by today’s standards. By six, I imagine kids have been dumped into Tolstoy appreciation classes, and if this makes them irritable, then they go to the Centre for Kids with Tolstoy-Appreciation-induced Irritability Syndrome, where the errant are weeded out and packed off to Nike factories in Laos.

However, we lived in simpler times and could spend our entire summer vacations happily sipping on pesticide-cola and enjoying fine comic exchanges like these:

Master: Suppandi, keep an eye on the dog.

Suppandi: Yes Master, but…

Master: But what?

Suppandi: What do I do with the other eye?

Now you may turn up your nose at the humour, but to a kid, that is comedy gold. Plus I dare you to find a smarter joke in any of Akshay Kumar’s films.

Comics like Tinkle and its rival Champak were like gateway drugs to the larger world of Enid Blytons, Archie, the Hardy Boys, Tintin, Asterix and more. Thanks to these, kids like me grew up with a more-than-decent grasp of the English language, which we now use to successfully distinguish ourselves from our grammatically challenged and hormonally blatant brethren on social networking sites.

I suppose the future will involve more such reminders of your childhood having slipped away. Uncle Pai is no more. One day, Sachin will retire. And to make matters worse, Afridi will still be nineteen.

Believe me, I know this sentimentalism is useless. As a responsible adult who never wears the same underwear twice in a row, even if it happens to be his favourite pair of Batman boxers, I completely understand the futility of nostalgia.

However, as a jaundice-stricken kid, sitting on a hospital bed at night, covered from head to toe with a bedsheet, with only a torch and some Tinkle digests for company, all I can say is… Thank you Uncle Pai. May you rest in peace.

(P.S. Tantri was never going to succeed, was he?)

(Note: This is my HT column, dated 27th Feb 2011)

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32 responses to “So long, and thanks for all the memories

  1. I think at some point in my life I regretted not being one of those kids who were sent off to Tolstoy appreciation classes. But yes, Tinkle comics were (are) treasures. Can totally relate to everything written here.

  2. Tinkle comics literally made us love books, for a change. All thanks to Uncle Pai’s efforts.

    Good read.

  3. Beautifully expressed. It was like plundering into a treasure chest of the fondest memories.:)

  4. I still read Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha when I’m bored. As does my mum.

  5. Heh. Savita meets munni cracks me up.

  6. Thanks, good that someone remembers Anant Pai. Tinkle was my lifeblood as a child and yeah, I learnt my english grammar from it too

  7. Very Sweet! πŸ™‚ May he rest in peace!

  8. Well said! The part about Sachin retiring does really hit home though πŸ™‚

  9. Lovely. Well written and thanks for wonderfully capturing the sentiments of so many raised on Tinkle, Indrajal and ACK.

  10. I used to go to a circulating library and read back issues of Tinkle over the summer. I always wondered who this Uncle Pai person was, imagining in my head a bespectacled, gray-haired, mustachioed man with a booming laugh and pocket full of Ravalgaon sweets to hand out to the nearest convenient child. What? I’m Maharashtrian and his last name was Pai, ok?

  11. I’m pretty sure Anu Club would’ve one day really started discussing Savita Bhabhi and Global warming.

  12. Ah! Those days of curling up with my favorite comics, still lies fresh in my memory. Childhood used to be so much simpler back then. Alas! kids these days. Do they even know the joys of comics?

  13. Good read. A sheer nostalgia trip. πŸ™‚

  14. Despite my huge respect for Anant Pai and my sadness at his demise, I was getting a little sick of the saccharine tributes.
    Then you came along and plugged ACK into Savita Bhabhi. After my imagination stopped boggling, it stood up and applauded. While keeping an eye out for stray bazoongas.

    J.A.P.

  15. Great stuff, Shakya. Well written and heartfelt, definitely one of your better pieces :).

  16. No wait, I just put my comment on twitter, but it should really be here, in this stack of cards.
    This piece has a little bit of everyone’s bachpan and some great irreverent jokes. And its honest, a rare quality in tributes.

  17. Aah the pleasures of summer vacations! What fine memories have you invoked.

  18. I didn’t grow up in India.. but I’m glad my childhood did involve many of things that you talk about. Champak and Tinkle were THE most important on the wish list when someone was coming from India, until the sleepy sultanate finally decided to import some on its own, to our delight.
    And yes, I will cry when Sachin retires..

  19. I loved Champak… πŸ˜€
    This was a very nicely-written piece. πŸ™‚

  20. I love this post. I remember waiting for the paper-wallah uncle to deliver Tinkle, and re-reading all of them from time to time.

    Interestingly, we never actually got around to cancelling our subscription. Meaning, I am 23 and halfway around the world, and I think Tinkle is delivered regularly, once a month back home in Bombay πŸ˜€

    P.S.: “Thanks to these, kids like me grew up with a more-than-decent grasp of the English language, which we now use to successfully distinguish ourselves from our grammatically challenged and hormonally blatant brethren on social networking sites.”

    I nearly laughed myself off the chair!

  21. Oh my god ! It is 2.30 am in the morning on a monday night ( er, tuesday morning ) and I am still reading…Stumbled onto your blog from somewhere, a couple of hours ago and am still here …. Love the way that you write and yes, it is this piece which made me respond… And yes, of course, i do “distinguish myself from our grammatically challenged brethren ” :))….Will come back here several times whenever i need to put the smile back on my face πŸ™‚

  22. Whenever I am traveling by train, I always buy a twinkle digest from the book stand in platform. Its sort of tradition you can say. Great post

  23. no, Tantri the Mantri never will succeed πŸ˜€
    God, I could totally connect with every line in this article. How I used to scream with joy when my father bought me issues of Tinkle or Champak and I used to finish them off in a day, and then re-read them with the same interest, the same fervour. And Magic Pot! (Luttapi and Mayavi- epic). I would love reading Chandamama too, it was full of interesting stories. Those were the days…

  24. A worthy tribute brother. Well written. I would like to catch you live one of these days!

  25. Yes, those were wonderful days of Champak and Tinkle.

    PS: I too started reading when I was 6 and still I am not a good writer πŸ˜›

  26. One day, Sachin will retire. And to make matters worse, Afridi will still be nineteen.

    Its happened….and its true πŸ™‚

    Reintroduced today, Tinkle would be an app on the ipad where u could play with supandis 9 horizontal hair while he cracks a joke.

  27. Beautiful peace, Ashish πŸ™‚
    And, Nah, he wouldn’t succeed πŸ˜€

  28. You really write well. Read some of your other posts as well. Thanks for making me laugh today πŸ™‚

  29. Reblogged this on White Flag Man In A Red Faced World and commented:
    Comics like Tinkle and its rival Champak were like gateway drugs to the larger world of Enid Blytons, Archie, the Hardy Boys, Tintin, Asterix and more. Thanks to these, kids like me grew up with a more-than-decent grasp of the English language, which we now use to successfully distinguish ourselves from our grammatically challenged and hormonally blatant brethren on social networking sites.

  30. Tinkle then and tinkle even now…the love and addiction only keeps on growing!!! The magic never seems to cease, never fails to amuse and always keeps your hope alive of a faraway neverland!!!

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