Do you collect books? I’ve been a books/comics collector since childhood. ‘AAL Library, MZR, Baroda’ (not in short form, of course) used to be a rubber stamp happily put on every single book n comic that came into my cozy collection. For a while, I even used to number them, a la library, and keep a notebook of borrowed books, again, a la library style. Most of the books are still preserved nicely, either bound, or in their original form, courtesy the excellent paper quality in those days.
It began with, but of course, Enid Blyton books. Mr. Pink Whistle was a hot favourite- a portly little man who always did good. There were three PW books, I remember. All in the Blue Dragon category(There were three EB categories- Blue, Red and Green dragon). There was also a Mr. Meddle in the Blue Dragon series- Mr. Meddle’s Muddles was one such fun storybook.
Then, there was the Noddy series-24 books in all. Noddy with his yellow taxi-car, Big Ears his best friend, Mr. Plod the policeman, et al- such interesting names each of these characters had.
Then, there was the circus series- Mr. Galliano’s Circus, Hurrah for the circus, Circus days again. All three read over and over again, specially since I was a circus fan-atic.(But that’s another post).
Then, there were my absolute favourites, books I read now and then even now: The Five Find Outers- Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets and Fatty’s dog Buster. The best book in the series being The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage, about an escaped prisoner who’s a master of disguise. And, there’s the village policeman, Mr. Goon, who’s always a step behind the Five, in solving mysteries.
There was also the Famous Five series- 21 books in all(I just finished reading two, after ages, one of them being the above one) But these were slightly lower on the popularity list than the others.
A year or two later, it was the Hardy Boys(Frank and Joe) and the Three Investigators(Alfred Hitchcock’s junior series) who ruled the roost.
It wasn’t easy to build up on the collection, since, in those days, costs seemed exorbitant, from a princely Rs. 4 to a kingly Rs. 8(for a Hardy Boys bound book). One way out of the situation would be, birthdays. Each Uncle/Aunt would be ‘informed’ of which book I could be ‘pleasantly surprised’ with, sometimes by going with them to the bookstore a day or two before the birthday. Any money given by visiting relatives would also be kept aside for the same ‘goal’, but naturally.
A lot of reading was done, courtesy school friends, as well, since we would have a good exchange program, borrowing books from each other.
Vacations would be another boost to good reading. The library guy would charge in Re/Paise terms, whatever the price of the book was. So, a dollar book would be charged 1 Re for reading, a 50P one would be charged 50 paise. Sheer bliss. When we went to Delhi to visit relatives, there was a bookshop named Kalra’s, in Greater Kailash(Is it still there) that was my favourite.
In the last ten years or so, since I came to Dubai, reading’s been at a relatively low ebb. But, all that will change….soon…sooner..soonest. J