Asterix and the Two Decade-Long Dream

It was one of those lazy summer holidays during my tween years when I first discovered Asterix.

I had finished my Nancy Drew even before we got off the train and had already memorised the Tinkles that we had bought at the railway station. The vacation that year was  in one of those nondescript towns in some corner of Kerala, Trikerripur or something and I was bored to death. I was lolling by the window and tearing leaves off the tree when Shashi maama handed me a large comic book from  his cupboard, and with a tilt of his chin, told me to try it. Very hesitantly, took it from him. The pictures were too cluttered, and there was too much text in the talk bubbles. But then, this did seem to be a better option  than stripping a tree bare. So I sprawled myself on the bed and started to turn the pages. Asterix in Switzerland. They had to literally drag me down for dinner that night.

I had only devoured three books from his collection and by then it was time for us to leave. I made puppy-dog eyes and tried to get Shashi maama to offer the comics to me, atleast one for the road. But no. Those were his treasured possessions and no manipulating child was going to get him to even lend those precious comic books, ones he had lovingly collected over the years and lugged across the country throughout his transfer postings. I sulked all the way back home. But over the next few years more vacations happened and I managed to read and reread the entire set.  And though I didn’t get all those puns back then, I knew that I was hooked. For life.

Update:  The Original Collection. Yellowed, dogeared, loved.



Many years later, I stood in front of a wall of comic books at a colleague’s house in Oslo and thumbed through his well worn copies of Asterix in both French and Dutch. Treasures from his childhood. And over dinner my Norwegian colleague and I bonded over that Gaul. Asterix had helped to break both the ice and the language barriers for us.


When Shashi maama died, his wife packed up all their things and moved to another town. She gave away a lot of stuff, some out of necessity and some, just because she had lost the will to live. No, don’t look at me that way. But yes, I did wonder if that pile of yellowing, well thumbed through comics was part of that give-away list. It wasn’t. She sent over a Guy De Maupassant, she sent over sarees and beautiful blue baking dishes. She sent over DVDs and rotimakers. But that pile of Asterix? Never, she said. That’s his soul in there.


Last Friday, as usual, I woke up to my Twitter timeline. Someone had shared a link to an Amazon offer. The entire Asterix box set was at a 94% discount at Rs.999 !  It has been in my Wishlist forever, constantly mocking me with that five digit unaffordable figure. I rubbed my eyes and pinched myself and checked again. It was true. Thank god for fast 3G, I completed the order right there on my phone. A thousand bucks well spent at 6.09 am. But by the time I had put out my announcement tweet for the benefit of others, the offer had vanished. It was back to a reasonably discounted Rs.11999 again. What followed was a weekend of anger and frustration. Amazon sent everyone an email cancelling the order because it was a pricing mistake. But goof ups happen and they happen again for the best. This arrived on Tuesday.

20140526_195804            20140526_195944                20140526_200147

Finally. That two decade-long dream has come true.




6 thoughts on “Asterix and the Two Decade-Long Dream

  1. So these are the stories behind the books.
    Congratulations on your inheritance, for I am sure it was Shashi mama doing his bit from up there.
    BTW what price did you pay for it?
    PS: I am sure you don’t follow your Uncle’s policy of not lending them. What?

    • I’m sure he had something to do with it 🙂
      I’m sure some poor intern at Amazon got fired for that pricing error and now I’m feeling sorry for that person. A whole bunch of fastest-fingers-first on Twitter and FB got this boxset for Rs.999. And yes, I never lend my books 😛

      • Now I am confused …
        And yes, I never lend my books
        Is that a yes or a no?
        It seems like you’re saying yes but shaking your head.

        I wonder if you believe in “Purpose of Life”, i.e. do you believe everything (in this world) has a purpose (for its existence).

        If yes, then don’t you think that the purpose of a meaningful existence for a book is to be read, and read by as many people as possible? I ask this question because I know that you’re a person who’s concerned about the well being and happiness of her books (cf. … the book is in a better , happier …. In view of this shouldn’t you lend books so that they may be read and made happier?

      • Many books on my bookshelf were lent to me by kind souls who believed in that ‘Purpose of Life’ principle 🙂

        But jokes apart, I do lend books. But only to people who read. I’ve had people borrowing books from me just to leave them lying around to impress some guy or because some actor spoke about it in an interview. I’ve never got those books back and the people who borrowed them never actually read them.

        A friend once borrowed an imported book from me and to my utter horror, I found her using it to as a puri separator because the pages were glossy!! ( when they roll out a lot of puris and don’t want them to get stuck together, some women place the rolled out dough between pages of books for easy removal )
        Long story short, yes I sometimes allow my books to go to better places, but only if I’m sure they’ll live a happily ever after life there

  2. Ah don’t remind me of the number of times I’ve lent books, believing that all people thought about books the same as I thought about them. Books not being returned is fine with me, as long as I know that they have been read and enjoyed. The worst feeling is when I ask them how the book was, and I get this non-comprehending, blank stare in return. I’ve even lost a few author signed copies.. 😦

    Anyway, don’t be worried that I’m going to ask for your books. The chances of 2 anonymous, virtual entities meeting (in real life) is pretty low. 🙂

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