Thursday, May 13, 2010

Champaks and Tinkles and more...

Continuing the ACK Blog that I wrote last, there was a wide world for us young readers back then. Champak was looked forward to every fortnight when the postman used to drop it in. Champak, you might remember, was that small sized colorfully illustrated magazine full of life, of animals who dwelt in Champakvan and Nandanvan apart from other children stories and a few comic strips in it of Cheeku the wonder rabbit and others. Then there was Tinkle too, which was loved by all. Initially I used to get the larger sized Tinkles, then I remember getting the smaller sized fatter versions of it in the form of Tinkle digest. Fond readers might remember Shikari Shambhu and who can forget Suppandi and his goofiness.

There was a phase when I also read up Chacha Chaudhari with his red turban and stick and Sabu who hailed from Planet Jupiter. These were of course our own home bred super heroes who saved the world! And who can forget, whenever Sabu gets angry, volcanoes erupt!

I’ m not sure if a lot of people read Chandamamas, but they were one of my favorites too. I had amassed quite a collection of Chandamamas right from the 60s from various ‘raddi’ and scrap stores! They used to have several amazing folktales from all over the world and different parts of India. There used to be an engrossing serial story too in each volume and typically continued for the year. And it was from Chandamama that I learnt about Vikram the king and Betal the ghoul who put up an ethical or moral question after a story recited to King Vikramaditya in an eerie cremation ground with strong gusts of wind and terrifying voices around. Unfortunately with the technology boom and changing times, I am not too sure how well it has adapted though I hear they are out with a revamped look but I didn’t really see it in the regular book stores.

The American world of Archie also had us hooked and his perpetual dilemma back then over Betty and Veronica kept us commiserating with Betty and bitching about Veronica! Now I believe, Archie proposed to Veronica. That was big news a couple of years back! Besides the American teens, the Gauls Asterix and Obelix who entertained then, well, still have me in splits over their banter and the magic potion by Getafix is still quite potent! Tintin and his dog too led me through several adventures along with Captain Haddock (I still remember his characteristic ‘Blistering Barnacles’! though I haven’t read it for long now), and the forever bungling up twin detectives Thompson and Thompson.

Besides the comics ofcourse, there was a world of Enid Blytons to plunge into. Magic, adventure, mysteries, school stories, simple stories, the lady had it all! I guess, giving me an Enid Blyton was my Moms way of getting me out of the way! She did try some of the childrens classics too such as Tom Sawyer etc, but I guess, I stuck to the Enid Blytons!

Then as we grew up we graduated to the teen detectives in Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcock and baffling mysteries of Agatha Christies. I guess, that was the last of my childhood reading and then suddenly I just wanted to read other books!

I certainly am thankful that these delightful books were a part of my childhood and they certainly inculcated the habit of reading in me!

What do you remember of your reading as kids?


  1. I used to love reading Tinkle, Chandamama, Champak, Archies, Phantom, Mandrake, Nagaraj, Dhruv, Chacha Chaudhary, Billu, Pinky, Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and sometimes (without public knowledge :P) Sidney Sheldon!

    Nice article, like the way you bring back focus on sweet 'ol memories!

  2. Nice post....
    As a kid I always wanted to live in nandanwan with cheeku!!!
    Cheeku has always been a favourite.....I still cant help drooling over his wits .I happened to read a champak last year from my little cousins collection....though good, but i feel that that "zing" is missing in english version....I always prefer the hindi one

  3. @Saurabh: haha...I guess they were a part of those good ol' days. Sidney Sheldon a kid..u read all of it or just a few of the pages ;)?

  4. @Tanvi: Thanks for visiting and commenting! yeah, Cheeku was my favorite too. I haven't seen the latest champaks though. I wonder if the simple fanciful stories are still as much fun to the super smart kids these days as they were to us!

  5. I am glad that you mention Enid Blyton. I too was inspired by Enid Blyton's ingeniousness as a writer, in that many of the aspects of life she discussed several decades ago are relevant and will continue to be relevant in the foreseable future. You also mention Tom Sawyer. In fact there is a strong relationship between Mark Twain and Enid Blyton in that both of them were in part inspired to plunge into their indepth writing careers by the rivers they happen to have stayed on for a long time i.e. Mark Twain on the Mississippi River and Enid Blyton on The River Thames. In fact, Enid Blyton's Secret Island was very much inspired by Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (in which Tom Sawyer incidentally appeared, albeit briefly). In fact, I discuss these incidences and coincidences in my book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (
    Stephen Isabirye

  6. @Stephen: Thank you for your comment. Yes, I absolutely grew up on the world of Enid Blyton more than anything else. I really did'nt know the river connection of the two authors. When I think back about the characters of most of the detective series, be it the Famous Five, or the Five Findouters or the Snubby-Loony series or the Secret Seven, most of them certainly had a lot of values and each character in them portraying certain strong qualities that kept in rein the team, not different from the teams of today, at work or at play. In her school series, as you rightly said, the timeless values of integrity, honesty and simplicity were stressed throughout amidst all the mischief that ought to be present in kids. The only difference I see is in the wickedness that besets the world today. Most of the stories were I guess, set in a much more simple day and age, where in the books, she could make the characters go tramping on caravan adventures or off to islands and her readers lapped it up all. Your book does sound interesting. I shall certainly give it a look!

  7. Enid Blyton was my staple diet!!! infact there always was an unsaid progression laid down ... you start with Noddy's and wishing chairs , move to famous five and secret seven .... and once you are through move on to nancy drew or hardy boys and then to agatha christie and/or sidney sheldon......

    wonder what after these ???

  8. @whacko: yeah I absolutely agree with the sequence even within Enid Blyton..I guess, after that it was a whole world of books we ceased to find that complex after that! We all just moved in different directions I guess, experimenting on authors and making our preferences!

  9. well ... it wz usually a few of those pages actually :D ... bt it nevertheless qualifies as 'reading' Sidney sheldon! :)

  10. comic books specially remind me of summer vacations when we all frnds used to gather at one place n read sitting in room with big sound making cooolers.

    my fav were Nancy drew,Chacha chaudhary,billu,pinki,n champak.

  11. I am coming here after quite some time but am gratified to find something that takes me back to my kid's childhood and of course, my onw!

    Who can forget Enid Blyton? My friend had a huge collection of them and like Amruta says, we used sit in a room with a noisy cooler and read them all. We also had the Phantom, Mandrake the magician and Henry comics, not to foget Sad Sack! nice post Richa!

  12. Thanks zephyr for revisiting. I guess, I have been visiting memory lane pretty often in the blog! I used to follow Mandrake the magician in the newspaper comic section..that actually reminds me of all the other comics I used to follow back then in the papers..there was Nancy, Marvin, Dennis the Menace, Calvin and Hobbes and so many more.

  13. Nice post Rich! Takes me back to the days when all mom approved of my reading was Enid Blyton and when Chacha Chaudhry and Tinkle was the rare treat I got while travelling on long train journeys in the summer in the summer that mom allowed me to buy just to keep me shut!

  14. Honestly I still read Champak at times.. though I don't find it interesting anymore LOL. That is the only book available to me in Byndoor. ;). I have never grown out of comics and children's books though I love reading Scott Peck and Dan Brown now. Just add Dr.Suess to your list to make it mine LOL. Calvin is my fav of all..