Oh ….. how I longed to read this book! finally, I got hold of it, thanks to the library! “The Tunnel of time” is the autobiography of R.K.Laxman, India’s best known cartoonist. Some time back, (infact, long time back) I read his “Idle hours”. I must have read it several times from then, without losing the enthu with which I read for the first time. Laxman has this simple and lucid style, with no flowery expressions, showy vocab and all …… yet, superb. I seriously think R.K.Laxman’s writing skills were not realised much because of R.K.Narayan :-p. One good thing about this book is that it is not chronologically written. It can be said as a set of “sequenced random memories” 🙂 He begins talking about one thing….something else comes to his mind, he drifts. This gave the effect of Laxman sitting in front of me and narrating his life-story! This also was in tune with my favourite idea – “life is a stream of consciousness”.
Certain incidents which he narrated were indeed pretty amusing. For example, as a child, Laxman likes the cartoons in The Hindu very much. The cartoonist is David Low. But, Laxman understands the signature as “COW” and says, “I began looking for COW cartoons”. Laxman has this uncanny ability to generate humor from almost everything. His satirical sense is just excellent. His description of childhood days is nostalgic. I felt he wrote the book with a passion. His sense of observation and his penchant for political satire interests me. Its so new knowing about his job search. Everybody starts from the first step. Laxman going in and coming out of various offices is something strange for me to imagine given his current status :)) I was surprised to know that he even worked for a brief while in animation movie making! The fact that he doesn’t want any job other than political cartoonist shows his will-power. I am jealous of his travels. I was already jealous ever since I read his travelogues in “Idle hours” and after this, the jealousy increased.
This book provides us an insight in to the life and work-styles of a cartoonist. He shares some of the experiences and experiments of his rather – “unconventional” job. I was surprised to know that Laxman and Bal Thackeray were one time colleagues. I knew that Thackeray was a good cartoonist, but never knew this fact! It seems Laxman was advised to remove “Common-man” from his cartoons by a well-wisher saying that it is a bad idea :)) Don’t know how the person would have reacted after knowing that a statue of Common man was erected! Laxman’s England trip and his meetings with popular english figues like – Russell,Eliot,Greene etc were all there in “Idle hours” so, they didn’t appear new to me. Nevertheless, it was interesting reading about them and not at all boring despite having read them several times. Such is his style.
Laxman’s experiences with Government and politicians, his feelings on emergency, his one-time decision to quit, his views on some cartoonists abroad were all nice stories to read. This style of writing an auto-biography is nice. I liked it a lot. I liked the randomness in the book 🙂 Laxman rox. Laxman’s affection to his grand-daughter is evident in the last page. I recommend this to all those who read this blog. Well, this is a simple book about a simple man,written in simple style. This is my disclaimer. It transforms our world in to Laxman’s world. We can visualise all those incidents that he narrates right in front of us. I wonder how he comes across so many diverse mentalities! Or, does he observe people so closely that everybody whom he sees appears like a “specimen” for us when viewed through his descriptions!!!
Whatever it is, it’s a pleasure to read this book. Atlast, my search for this book, which threatened to be eternal ended and I am happy that I am not dissapointed!