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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Magazines !

Despite the fact that live has been at its lively best and eventful over the last year or so, it was only yesterday's ten minute long wait in Guindy Railway station that supplied me with some blogable ideas. Three strong reasons made me walk towards the magazine stall and browse at what is available - To kill time, To distract myself from the disgust I felt every time I see someone spit right in the middle of the platform, To keep myself away from the shop that sells Lays, Kurkure, Groundnuts et al. Predominantly, I saw a bulk of the bollywood crap with glossy pics of skinny women on front cover, a chunk of the Tamil weekly s with flashy pics of traditional looking Tam actors and actresses. ( You can find the non traditional ones in the middle page.) Lots of English Weekly with surveys and politics and movies and sports and other mundane stuff. There were also a couple of kids magazines which deeply interested me and that is what this post is going to be about.

Till I turned ten, as a kid I never did any reading but for the text books and occasional story books - once in a while. My father tried very hard to make me read novels ( Enid Blyton) when I was in class four. Noddy and Amelia Jane's Toy books just put me off mainly because I could never relate to them. Thus I never read anything consistently - An Amar Chitra Katha during the holidays or some other Indian simple story books. It was in Class V , one rainy October day when my friend Bhairavi, and some other girl was discussing some magazine called "Gokulam". I was not even aware that such a thing existed ! After listening to their animated discussions, I purchased my first issue( October) of Gokulam. I found it interesting and more important realistic. I could relate to the stories as a school girl. Then I waited anxiously from the monthly issues of Gokulam and fortnightly issues of Champak. I bugged the Magazine stall guy in the railway station and the Newspaper seller near my home every month end to grab the next month's copy. Somehow we never made any arrangements for the newspaper guy to deliver it at home. It was more exciting to buy your copy on your own!

Now I would like to recollect some of the most exciting things and some stories from these books. Champak had allegories in large quantum though I liked stories with real people rather than animals talking. So I always read the stories about read kids first and then read the stories with animals in them. Some of my favorites from Champak which I can still recall are ....
  • A short story on one detective boy named Vijay who would help a King to track this treasure through a series of mysterious clues. The clues were very interesting and ingenious. It was published as a serious of seven parts across seven issues.
  • An interesting story about a little boy who was told by his friend that "Seven" was his lucky number. The friend would have given a series of explanation on why "seven" should be his lucky number. Like - you were born in the seventh month, you like in flat number seven and the sum of your roll no is seven etc. But his sister crushes his superstition by giving a similar set of explanation for another number - "four". I felt that the sissy was very clever in forming those explanation !
  • One boy comes to town from village to sell fruits with his cousin for a livelihood. They wait with ripe mangoes each in a cart at the threshold of the market place. The cousin was a strong believer of the concept of Boony or the first sale made that day and he insists that they sell the fruits for a price less than the cost price to make a good start. Mail me if you want to know the rest of the story ... ;)

Then there were the Undir series in Gokulam...Which a series of stories about a rat family. As a school kid I could relate to it so very well.

Then over a couple of years I grew of old for these books and I became voracious reader of the Famous Five, Secret Seven ... The Enid Blyton's books on boarding school... I simply loved them...Then came Nancy Drew... Then the conventional Sweet Valley Twins and friends....Then Robin Cook and Archer and Clarke so on....

In between I tied some Teen's Mags which was a utter disaster. There was nothing I could relate to.There were issues about Teen Love and other questions which was distant to me then.

Now all that I find interesting is Reader's Digest... sometimes The English Weekly s...
How I wish there were a good English Magazine with out the Masala and the hype and the glossy photos ... without endless surveys on which college is the best , which city is the best... without tips on how to reduce weight, stress .... without political content about the ridiculous fights at the parliament....But with interesting short stories, meaningful articles about people around us and nice cartoons ... Something that can rekindle the goodness in each of us.....