Posts Tagged ‘James Herriot’

kidstvHow did one survive growing up in the 90’s? Definitely not by sitting glued in front of television sets. I am continuously amazed at the amount of time my nephew and our neighbouring toddler, can put in just surfing TV channels. The two usually have major fights as to the merits of Pogo vs Nickelodeon or Chutti TV vs Disney, while all the adults try to act as peacemakers and make sneaky attempts to grab the remote.

When my precocious seven-year-old nephew started singing songs like KalyaNamdhan kattikittu Odi polaama?
illa Odi poyee kalyaNamdhaan kattikalaama?

thaaliyathaan kattikittu pethukalama?
illa pulla kutti pethukittu kattikalama
? I was stunned. (For those not conversant with Tamil, the song lyrics go something like: “Should we elope and get married or get married and elope? Should we get married and have kids or have kids and then get married?”)

Then he started singing, “Dey Kaiya vachittu summa iruda (The song goes on to baser levels, with people asking how it will be if someone touches them here, kisses them there…Shucks!)

Now he seems to know everything about the birds and bees, if one gauges his knowledge by the songs he sings. ramayana

I remember my TV watching episodes as a kid were quite innocent in comparison. The worst crime, me and my parents committed, according to my grandparents, was sitting at home on a Sunday morning, watching “Mahabarata and Ramayana” instead of going to church.

I once got a nice, tight slap from my mom for singing “Choli Ke Peechey Kya He, Chumri Ke Neeche Kya He” in front of a few guests. I got to know the meaning of the words only much later.

For me, I remember Simran best as the compere for Superhit Muquabla and Preity Zinta as the bubbly teen in Liril and Perk ads. On a rainy day, I would even settle down to watch “Vaiyalum vazhvum.”

I am a prime example of the media-bullet theory of influence. As a kid, my favourite treat was Maggie 2-minute noodles, because of the Maggie ads on Doordarshan. I would imagine I was Cuthbert Calculus when DD’s Turning Point came on air.

When the TV was not switched on, I would be reliving the adventures of Tintin & Snowy and Asterix & Obelix. Strange to think, that I have achieved my very first ambition – that of being a reporter, though my job profile doesn’t even remotely resemble the Tintin escapades. Influenced by writers like Kenneth Anderson, Gerald Durrell, Jim Corbett, Rudyard Kipling and James Herriot, my jungle-bookambitions vacillated between being a zoo warden, an animal trainer, a forest range officer, a veterinary doctor, a zoologist and a wildlife photographer. Currently, I have to satisfy myself with being a journalist and a pet owner.

Chitrahar, Chitramala, Oliyum Oliyum and the Sunday feature film was a must watch for the family.

Coming from a very orthodox and strict Pentecostal family, I would watch with a sense of guilt, but still thoroughly enjoy it all the same. Doordarshan introduced me to the world of Satayajit Ray, Charlie Chaplin, Malgudi Days, Sinbad the Sailor, The Jungle Book, etc. For me the transition from comics to novels, happened because of TV or the lack of it. I remember seeing the serial adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson and because I couldn’t wait till the next week to know what happened, I started reading the abridged version.

From there it was a short step to Robinson Crusoe and Children of the New Forest. Then Oliver Twist, Malgudi Days and Jungle Book was aired; inspiring me to read the original books.

Soon, I was hooked to books and started ignoring DD. I preferred reading Dennis the Menace to watching the movies, preferred reading Wizard of Oz to seeing the VCD, and preferred readingwizard-of-oz-dvdcover Gerald Durrell to watching Turning Point. Even now books hold a stronger lure; I prefer Harry Potter books to the movies and Edith Wharton’s original The Age of Innocence to Martin Scorsese’s adaptation.

Junoon was a sore point for my grandma. Being a Pentecostal, she found it hard to reconcile her liking for the melodrama. But some of my more canny Pentecostal friends have got around the bans imposed by pastors. Since pastors exhort them not to go to “theatres and watch cinemas,” many Christian families can be seen renting DVDs and watching them at home. I don’t how watching the same movie at home is a holier pastime than watching it with a crowd in a theatre.

Even though there would be regular interruptions on Doordarshan, people never switched off their television sets. I remember seeing my aunt once sitting in front of an empty screen, cutting vegetables and waiting for the broadcast to resume; her logic being she didn’t want to miss a second of Junoon.

Doordarshan often used the national integrity song “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” as space fillers. I remember getting goosebumps everytime I watched the song; used to make me feel so “patrotic and Indian.” Surabhi, was one of those programmes, I could watch without PG (Parental Guidance). After Kamal Hassan’s sensual song “Sivarathiri thookam yethu” was aired on Oliyum Oliyum, I couldn’t watch any filmy stuff on TV in the absence of my parents.

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My wishlist!

Talking of birthdays, one of my friends had a bit of a hassle with his birthday this time around. He was plagued with phone calls from all his class girls on Vinayagar Chathurthi wishing him happy birthday. Since his birthday had been celebrated two weeks ago, he assumed that they were extending their belated greetings. After the first few calls, he got suspicious as everyone seemed to think his birthday was that day (Vinayagar is on the plumper side and so is my friend). After being flooded with calls, he found out that his friends had been playing a practical joke by fooling all the girls in our class (including me) with SMSes that Vinayagar Chathurthi was his birthday. My friend didn’t find the comparison between him and the plump Vinayagar one bit amusing.

But birthdays sometimes fall flat. For my parents I am their only child and a pampered, spoilt brat at that so a table overfulling with gifts is a must. With no siblings to rival for attention I was queening it over our rambling large household, our dogs (numbers vary, but currently my parents have five), our servants and my devoted grandparents. The drawbacks were my parents had this horrible habit of gifting me “useful things.” It usually meant boring, educational toys, which remained clean, bright and unused till I graduated. They finally had to off load all their “useful gifts” to me to other poor, unsuspecting kids like my cousins.

My dad once gifted me J R R Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings for my 11th birthday. I was disappointed and furious with him as Tolkein was his favourite author and not mine and I saw the birthday gift as a means to sneak into the house a Rs 2,500-useless-huge book without incurring my mother’s disapproval.

Other disappointing gifts over the years were the Holy Bible, the Book of Good Children, a personal planner, a diary and a football. All the more disappointing considering that I used to get nice presents for my parents’ birthdays like kittens, stray puppies, baby sparrows, squirrels, worms and caterpillars.

As a kid, my parents used to humour me and accept these gifts; though pessimistic about introducing more puppies and kittens to a house already overpopulated by canines and felines and revolted at the thought of having to touch worms and caterpillars.

By the time, I was a pre-teen my parents caught on to the game and placed a blanket ban on “gifting live animals.” Despite the ban, we always had a steady stream of dogs and cats becoming members of our household. This was because my parents, the soft-hearted, generous people that they were, couldn’t resist the combined pleas of a snivelling kid and warm, soulful-eyed puppy.

So here’s my wishlist (a very loud hint to near and dear ones):

Saigon – By Anthony Grey
Eat Cake – By Jeanne Ray
Complete collection of Somerset Maugham/ Saki
P.G.Wodehouse novels
Tintin & Snowy (anyone of the series except Tintin in America & Destination Moon)
Asterix & Obelix (anyone of the series except Asterix in Switzerland)

Titles by Georgette heyer

  • Beauvallet
  • Powder and Patch
  • Devil’s Cub
  • The Convenient Marriage
  • Friday’s Child
  • Arabella
  • The Grand Sophy
  • Sprig Muslin
  • Sylvester
  • Fredrica
  • The Nonesuch

Titles by Betty Smith:

  • A tree grows in Brooklyn
  • Tomorrow will be better
  • Maggie Now
  • Joy in the Morning

Titles by Paul Gallico

  • The Snow Goose
  • Mrs Harris Goes to Paris/ Flowers for Mrs Harris
  • The Small Miracle
  • Love of Seven Dolls
  • Snowflake

Titles by James Herriot

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • All Things Wise and Wonderful

Titles by Gerald Durrell

  • The Overloaded Ark
  • Three Singles to Adventure (Three Tickets to Adventure)
  • The Bafut Beagles
  • The New Noah
  • The Drunken Forest
  • Encounters with Animals
  • A Zoo in My Luggage
  • The Whispering Land
  • Menagerie Manor
  • Two in the Bush
  • Birds, Beasts and Relatives
  • Fillets of Plaice
  • Catch Me a Colobus
  • Beasts in My Belfry (A Bevy of Beasts)
  • The Stationary Ark
  • Golden Bats And Pink Pigeons: A Journey to the Flora and Fauna of a Unique Island
  • The Garden of the Gods
  • The Picnic And Suchlike Pandemonium
  • Ark on the Move
  • How to Shoot an Amateur Naturalist
  • Durrell in Russia
  • The Ark’s Anniversary
  • Marrying Off Mother and Other Stories
  • The Aye-Aye And I: A Rescue Journey to Save One of the World’s Most Intriguing Creatures from Extinction
  • The Best of Gerald Durrell

Titles by Pearl S Buck

  • The Good Earth
  • Sons
  • The Mother
  • A House Divided
  • The House of Earth
  • The Patriot
  • China Sky
  • Dragon Seed
  • Portrait of a Marriage
  • Pavilion of Women
  • Imperial Woman
  • The Three Daughters of Madame Liang
  • Mandala
  • The Goddess Abides

Titles by Marion (Zimmer) Bradley

  • Ancestors of Avalon
  • Ravens of Avalon
  • The Forest House
  • Lady of Avalon
  • Priestess of Avalon

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