Wednesday, April 16, 2008

55 Reasons for a Great Nabo Barsho

It started in the bookstore of the Calcutta Airport.
About to leave for our annual vacation to Assam, I badgered my father into buying me a comic book to read on the hour-long flight. He agreed and after browsing through the usual gamut of Amar Chitra Katha and Indrajal Comics, I decided on a title that I had never seen before.
It was about a tuft-haired boy reporter, his foul-mouthed sailor friend and an absent-minded professor. It was about going to the moon in a beautiful red-and-white checkered rocket. The name was Explorers On The Moon.
The comic book was printed on thick paper, bound in glossy covers and looked like nothing that my collection consisted of.
I wanted it. I HAD to have it. I don't remember (know?) the price of the comic but it would have been several times the price of an affordable Indrajal Comic or Amar Chitra Katha.
And my father bought it for me. My mother threw a fit when she saw the price but my father just shrugged.

That was the beginning of my love affair with Tintin, Captain Haddock, Snowy and the gang. After a point, I even knew Cutts' the Butcher's phone number.
And this was after a painstaking collection of various titles in the series, borrowing many, begging for some but thankfully never stealing any!
In between, I graduated to Asterix and started to appreciate the subtle humour, historical references and evolved artwork.
And my collection expanded. But it was never close to completion.

A few posts ago, I frivolously mentioned that I wanted to buy the entire Asterix + Tintin Collection available on IndiaPlaza.
And I even started it off by buying a double digest of the first two Tintin adventures - Tintin In the Land of Soviets and Tintin in Congo - while waiting for a flight at Pune airport.
I even prepared a mental list of the ones I have and the balance ones I have to get. I gave myself one year to complete the set.

Today, my wife called to say that a big box was waiting for me. I am a total sucker for surprises so I just could not wait to get home.
And when I opened the box, this is what it contained.

This is my Nabo Barsho gift from my father. Today, he completed the cycle he himself had started some three decades back.

33 Asterix and 22 Tintin titles would be mouth-watering for any comic fan. But when you realise that it also means that there is somebody to spoil you silly even at 33, it just takes your breath away!

Updated to add: And you know what's perfect? The only two titles missing in this whole set are the ones I bought last week at the Pune airport!


Anonymous said...

Oh sweet Jesus! I wish my father would buy me something like this instead of jewellery :(

Roger Rabbit said...

I think there is a whole generation of Bengalis who have grown up with Tintin. The reason why I emphasise on the word "Bengalis" is because I felt that in India, the penetration of Tintin has been quite low beyond the borders of Bengal. Perhaps the credit for preaching Tintin in Bengal should actually go to ABP, who through Anandamela, had patronized the curly haired lad in our hearts and "Kuttush", "Jaccholey", "Johnson and Ronson" (not Thomson and Thompson remember) became household names.

Some say that a generation of Bengalis grew up with Feluda. I always believed that the 80s Bengali attained baptism through Ray and Herge (I guess Topse himself grew up with Tintin...remember Sonar Kella?).

I still remember the day Anandamela published a small article named "Tintin-er shroshta chole gelen". It was 1983 then and I hardly understood the gravity of the one page article at that time and the numerous occasions in the years to come when I would fall back to my memory of that small article and wonder "why didn't he live a few years more?" I know I wasn't the only one on earth wishing the same.

That I believe that Tintin's popularity was somewhat limited to Bengal can be debated. Perhaps people who have lived outside Bengal for a significant period of time can concur. But personally I haven't had the experience of witnessing any person other than a Bengali who has been as crazy about Tintin.

I had always wondered whether Herge had created some more topics which may be, has not been released in India. Hence I bought Tintin in Soviet in the US (I can never thank my father enough for completing the full English set before I reached college...I made sure I completed the Asterix set before I completed 1 year of service). However even in the US, the remarkable low popularity of Tintin surprised me.

Last year-end when my company was generous enough to sponsor my trip to Belgium, I was more than elated. A colleague of mine who hailed from Pune was thrilled because he could travel to the capital of the European Union. To me EU didn't matter (though I stayed very close to the EU headquarters) but it was just a visit to city of Herge and more importantly, the city which hosts the only Tintin musuem in the world. In fact I had a lot of difficulty locating the small yet so significant museum in Brussels on a cold rainy afternoon. My friend from Pune had asked me "Who is this Tintin? I have seen my son read Superman Batman, but have never heard him mention this guy's name". He was kind enough to accompany me to locate the museum, but (thankfully) excused himself for some other cause after noticing the entry fee to be a cool 9.00 Euros. To me it was a ticket to heaven. When you enter heaven you don't care whether it is 9 or 99 (the price I spent entering Moulin Rouge a couple of months back...but that's another story).

Any visitor to Brussels should (must) drop by the Tintin museum. Because its the only place in the universe where you can photograph yourself with the Simian twins and replace Haddock's ancestor's face with yours (ref. Secret of the Unicorn). Its the only place where you see the moon rocket in real (in 3D I mean) and touch it.

Its also the only place where you can see scores of kids lying down for hours and memorising the foul mouthed sailor's slangs.
I realised, Herge still lives.
And I said to myself, "what a wonderful world".

~nm said...

Isn't it so much fun to still be given surprises and being pampered by parents. Even when you are 30+ :D

If you plan to open a exclusive library rental for the Tintins' and Asterix, do let me know :D

Uma said...

Thats awesome! What a dad! This gives me the inspiration to finish collecting the Asterix series for my mum - she is nuts about them!

Confessions of a blogaholic said...

Awww this is soo sweet :-D I just love your Dad. He he this also means you will have to do something similar for Joy ;-)

dipali said...

I really liked what you wrote abut your father in your Father's Day
post. You are a really lucky guy, and I'm glad that you know it:)

Dipta Chaudhuri said...

@ Roger: You are bang on. Anandamela is where all Bengalis started their Tintin journey.

Diligent Candy said...

I agree with Blogoholic now HAVE to do something like this for Joy!

Enjoy the lovely collection - you are one person who deserves it ...

OrangeJammies said...

Shubho nabo barsho!

myopic astronomer said...


what luck man. i envy your son, who will not only inherit the 'property', but also a father who possibly has the genes of his grandpa, double whammy :-)

may you have all the delight. i get sheer pleasure out of my pile of Asterix (not Tintin yet).

-- ashish

nilendu said...

Great!!! Now it is time to blog about "Kiriti Omonibaas" Somogro ;)

Anonymous said...

You shall have borrowers presently. - Kanchan

One Talent Man said...

You are such a brilliant fabulous writer.

Parul said...

Now that is a gift after my own heart!!

Came by from Sue's.


kookiejar said...

Hi! You have a wonderful blog! Read some of your posts on bengali literature and felt very nostalgic (in a good way)... keep up the writing....

iz said...


crazed_mellow said...

Diptakirti da

i stumbled across your most justified tribute to the magnificence that was Andaz Apna Apna.

U forgot the part where aamir hits ppl and does the whole "JHAKAAS" thing.

something which i do till today.

have the funs

Sandeepa said...

What a surprise, wish some of my family was reading this

the mad momma said...

oye. time for a new post. i am bored.