Jun 05, 2015
I finished reading The Tunnel of Time (R K Laxman's autobiography). Being a slow reader, it took me months to complete but I enjoyed it. Here is a short description of the book and some excerpts.
The book is deeply personal but also historical (India's Independence, Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency, Bangladesh etc.). You learn about R K Laxman's childhood, his family (including R K Narayan), friends and growing up in Mysore. There are stories about how he got started as a cartoonist, detailed descriptions of his travels, ideas about the human condition, his disciplined approach to creating cartoons, and of course his favourite subject (politicians) as observed by The Common Man. You get to know what he thought about his fellow cartoonists from around the world, real estate, winning various awards (including Ramon Magsaysay), and his family. He ends with his thoughts on his grand daughter.
One remarkable fact is he worked at The Times of India, drawing cartoons for over 50 years sitting at the same table!
On Andaman and Nicobar Islands where he had a vacation:
...giant crabs climbed up the coconut trees, plucked the nuts, climbed down, husked them with their claws, cracked them and noisily ate the kernels!
Largely politics was the profession of school drop-outs; I observed that politicians were endowed with immense vitality but little intelligence. .... I speculated that politicians were the most durable among the human species. They were tough, impervious to humiliation, failure, defeat, insults, shocks. They led a conscience-free existence hungering eternally for power even when charged with corruption, fraud and murder! For all the travelling they did all over the subcontinent, eating and sleeping at odd hours and shouting themselves hoarse in front of a battery of microphones in heat and dust and sub-zero temperatures, they never suffered from colds, sore throats, fevers or any such maladies that afflicted the common citizen.
But my whole life changed one day because a cat fell into the reservoir situated at the top of the Times of India building.
My book came from India as a gift from my brothers (Thank you Robert & Raymond) but I am sure it will not be hard to buy one.