Friday, February 25, 2011

Dear Uncle Pai

Some years ago, when we every once in a while, we used travel by train to some place, the first thing I would on reaching the railway station(and I think I'm not alone on this one) was to go to the A.H.Wheeler bookstore on Platform 1 and buy as many Tinkles(Digests/Double Digests/Summer Specials etc.) and Amar Chitra Kathas as my parents would permit.
It was a tradition. One that I was very happy to practice.

For an entire generation(or perhaps even two) of kids, from the late 80s to the early 2000s, these comics were the ultimate source of entertainment and education. The antics of Suppandi and Tantri the Mantri failed to tickle none, everyone knew that the wily Chamataka and his clumsy side-kick Doob Doob could be up to no good and everyone loved it when Kalia the Crow rescued Keechu-Meechu from their booby traps.

"Tinkle Tells You Why" was perhaps more successful in encouraging and clearing queries about day to day life than most teachers and schools ever were. The Science lessons of Uncle Anu and the sleuth-work of Mopes, Purr and Ajay were fascinating. Everyone was friends with Kapish, Bundila, Baboocha, Shikhari Shambu, Naseerudin Hodja, Ramu and Shamu.

The Jataka Tales and the Panchatantra were given a new lease of life and helped inculcate morals into millions of children across the country.

All these, were due to the vision and creativity of Anant Pai, or as ACK/TInkle readers will fondly refer to his as, Uncle Pai. His legacy has to this date sold over a 100million copies worldwide and each year continues to sell over 3 million copies. His creations are perhaps the sole reason why kids know about Birbal, the Pandavas, the avatars of Vishnu, Chanakya, Bhagat Singh, the Mughal emperors, Prithviraj Chauhan, Napoleon, Pasteur and JRD Tata.

Uncle Pai,
I am forever indebted to you.
May your soul rest in peace.

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