Amar Chitra Katha’s ‘Tales of Hanuman’ introduced me to the heroics of this mythological superhero. I was fascinated by his exploits. Especially the one in which he flew up to the sun thinking it’s a nice juicy mango, or some equally delicious fruit. His Lankan pyrotechnics, of course, is the stuff of which legends are made of. The wrestling icon of India, Dara Singh was aptly cast as Hanuman in the 80’s mega serial ‘Ramayana’. He did try his best to do justice to this superhero with the help of his highly expressive eyebrows that wiggled lovingly at every utterance of Lord Rama and nostrils that flared alarmingly in the mighty Ravana’s presence. However, the not-so-cutting edge graphics of that era and the occasional HMT watch on Hanuman’s hand did not do justice to this mighty hero’s adventures. This watch fact is a bit of an urban legend though. However, canvas shoes were often spotted on the feet of the soldiers who pranced around each other waving their weapons in a desultory fashion on the battlefield.
Around the same time, another caped crusader started making a dent on my impressionable mind. Every Sunday at 5:30 pm, ‘The Amazing Adventures Of Spiderman’ would be shown on the one and only Doordarshan channel. Playgrounds would get emptied. Birthdays in the neighbourhood were postponed till late in the evening. Homework was completed. Favourite uncles accompanied by hot samosas and juicy jalebis were ignored. A lot of compromises were made for the webbed superhero as he swung from one adventure to the other. In fact, one of my most memorable birthday gifts was a special Marvel Comics ‘bundle’ edition of Spiderman. Memories of those wonder years came cascading back as I spotted these two childhood heroes together in the bustling Beltola Bazaar in Guwahati.