Culture Czar

Where I talk about cricket, and the books I love, and cricket, and music, and cricket, and movies, and cabbages, maybe, and kings...

Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Stan, Ollie and Alice

I remember how I started reading " books". Those big, fat things without any pictures. Until then, life was simple. The Tinkle came home, I opened it, and went through the panels with relish. I also read the words, those little text balloons that gave the story coherence and a " plotline". But I was a bit like Alice, wondering "what was the use of a book without pictures".

Life changed one evening, when I accompanied my dad to the Air Force Traning Command Library, at Bangalore. I went straight to the comics rack at the end of the library- and found that I had finished reading all the Asterixes (irrelevant diversion- are they Asterixes or Asterices?) and Tintins.

Looking around desperately, I found a thick book, all of 200 pages or so. Emblazoned across the top was a huge front cover equivalent of a neon sign, screaming "Hardy Boys"!!!

In the most pleasurable mistake of my life, I immediately thought of Messrs Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, God rest their souls. A Laurel and Hardy show, even in book form and without the obvious benefits of motion picture or even little panels with text boxes, promised to be a laugh riot.

And so it came to pass that five year old Lahar picked up the book, took it to the check out counter, and took it home with the greatest of felicity.

Of course, the book was a commercial as well as a critical success, once I started reading it. It was about two cool dudes who went around the world chasing down bad guys and having thrilling adventures. At that early age, I learnt that pictures weren't everything.

Since then, books have been an integral part of my life. There have been "Bad books", and these have come into my life and left it with equal ease, and there have been "Good books", which once found, have been firmly held on to. Even today, twenty two years after that first evening at the library, there are few things I find more pleasurable than curling up in bed with a packet of chips and a good book.

And to think it all started with Laurel and Hardy....