It started in the bookstore of the Calcutta Airport.
About to leave for our annual vacation to Assam, I badgered my father into buying me a comic book to read on the hour-long flight. He agreed and after browsing through the usual gamut of Amar Chitra Katha and Indrajal Comics, I decided on a title that I had never seen before.
It was about a tuft-haired boy reporter, his foul-mouthed sailor friend and an absent-minded professor. It was about going to the moon in a beautiful red-and-white checkered rocket. The name was Explorers On The Moon.
The comic book was printed on thick paper, bound in glossy covers and looked like nothing that my collection consisted of.
I wanted it. I HAD to have it. I don't remember (know?) the price of the comic but it would have been several times the price of an affordable Indrajal Comic or Amar Chitra Katha.
And my father bought it for me. My mother threw a fit when she saw the price but my father just shrugged.
That was the beginning of my love affair with Tintin, Captain Haddock, Snowy and the gang. After a point, I even knew Cutts' the Butcher's phone number.
And this was after a painstaking collection of various titles in the series, borrowing many, begging for some but thankfully never stealing any!
In between, I graduated to Asterix and started to appreciate the subtle humour, historical references and evolved artwork.
And my collection expanded. But it was never close to completion.
A few posts ago, I frivolously mentioned that I wanted to buy the entire Asterix + Tintin Collection available on IndiaPlaza.
And I even started it off by buying a double digest of the first two Tintin adventures - Tintin In the Land of Soviets and Tintin in Congo - while waiting for a flight at Pune airport.
I even prepared a mental list of the ones I have and the balance ones I have to get. I gave myself one year to complete the set.
Today, my wife called to say that a big box was waiting for me. I am a total sucker for surprises so I just could not wait to get home.
And when I opened the box, this is what it contained.
This is my Nabo Barsho gift from my father. Today, he completed the cycle he himself had started some three decades back.
33 Asterix and 22 Tintin titles would be mouth-watering for any comic fan. But when you realise that it also means that there is somebody to spoil you silly even at 33, it just takes your breath away!
Updated to add: And you know what's perfect? The only two titles missing in this whole set are the ones I bought last week at the Pune airport!