Chandamama (or Ambulimama if you prefer) turns 60. I was a big fan of Tinkle, and as I grew older, I found Chandamama a bit too preachy for my taste. Tinkle had a quirky sense of humour appealed to me. You have to understand, even at the age of eight, I used to kick up a fuss if I thought someone expected something out of me “just because” I was a girl. Chandamama unfortunately was full of the standard fare that had too much about loyal wives rescuing idiotic husbands, or brave men rescuring helpless girls with some generous helpings of “shrew-taming”.
For me, Chandamama was mostly the stuff of summer vacations. I used to pick up quite a few books at the trusty HigginBotham, but after a certain point, my parents raised their eyebrows and I had to look at comics which were to be devoured on the unbelievably long train journeys. To be honest, once I got reading them, it was hard to put them down. Some of the art was a little weird for children’s reading. Very buxom women, angry sages and ink heavy sketches of Gods. My fascination with mythology was fuelled by Chandamama. I also had a soft corner for Vikram-Betal stories. An appetite for which is still healthy.
My mother’s house had some bound editions of Chandamama. They were from the 1960s and had 24 issues in each bound book. I used to spend entire afternoons reading them and earmarking some for a re-read or clarification from my Grandmother when it came to contradictory mythological information. Another time altogether. That stuff of summer vacations. When in the afternoon, all of Madras seemed to be sleeping on straw mats, in one corner of the thinnai in the house, I would sit with the bound editions on my lap, my chin in my hand, Chandamama keeping me good company.