Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I have always considered my childhood to be blessed. I had lovely dresses to wear, most of them stitched by my mom. She has a wonderful sense of style and was great with her hands. I remember us poring through "foreign" design magazines - me pointing at the prettiest and fluffiest of the dresses, and she trying to figure out if she can replicate them for me.

I had no complaints regarding food. Though like a typical kid, I used to hate most subjis, but provided I had my favorite Nepali tamatar ko achaar (tomato chutney) to dip my index finger and mix it with rice, I used to gobble up everything obediently. Due to tonsillitis, I was not allowed to have ice creams - had them only when we were out of town, like in Siliguri where the weather was warmer. Once, my doctor told me I can have ice-creams provided I heat them up first. I thought that was a great idea!! So what if it was a little bit warm! Silly me!

I had plenty of friends, both in school and home. Most of my "home friends" were my classmates - so I was one of the few lucky kids to have the same kid as my "home best friend" and my "school best friend". I had plenty of toys to share them with too. I feel extremely blessed that my earliest friends, right from the KGs are still in touch and we are still very close friends.

I used to get most of the toys that I wanted - maybe I knew when to limit my demands. Throughout my childhood, I only remember one incidence of me crying over some toy I wanted. We were in Nepal and I saw this toy sewing machine with which you can sew woolen threads over pictures of butterflies and flowers. I fell in love with it but my parents refused to get it for me. They tried to explain to me that it was expensive and how anyway at the Indian customs they would not allow us to take it back home and they will keep it for themselves. I cried and sulked the entire time we were at the mall.

But most of all I feel blessed because my childhood has been full of books. From the time I started to learn to read, I have been surrounded by books - starting right from the colorful nursery rhyme books with pop up cut outs. I remember as a kid I was always hungry for books. Apart from the books I used to get from the school library, I had also joined our local library. But that was not enough, so I used to get books from our bookstore too. At that time our bookstore was closed for business. I have always been a timid child, shy to go anywhere alone - not even to buy bread or milk from the nearby store. But to get those books, I used to gather up all my courage and hike for about half a mile, go to the store, unlock to big heavy locks, open a door panel and enter the room - the musty smell of damp books welcoming me. The books used to immerse me in world of fairies and goblins and robbers and secret passages - thanks mostly to Enid Blyton. From childish stories of Noddy to Famous Five and the Faraway Tree to more "matured" Malory Towers and Nancy Drew. From children classics like Tom Sawer and Moby Dick to Emma and Pride and Prejudice. I used to read them all. Book lovers themselves, by parents used to encourage me to read books. They had me and my brother subscribed to magazines like Wisdom, Reader's Digest and my all time favorite, Target. Target was a teen magazine published by the Times of India group. And then of course there was Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha comics. I don't think you can find many people of our age group who can imagine their childhood without these comic books. They were not only fun to read but each story had a moral.

Recently I came across the Amar Chitra Katha website which took me back to those good old days and hence the chatter. The website's pretty good though I wish they had some more on-line content to read apart from the story of the week.

While we are in the topic of books, there's another interesting website I'd like to share with you. WOWIO has hundreds of e-books which are free provided you read them on-line. You can find many of the favorite classics titles. Explore a bit and who knows, you might just discover some great new writers! Let me know if you come across a good read.