Friday, May 29, 2009

The Menhir effect

The recent Scripps Spelling Bee Contest saw an Indian American victory sweep at the final stages of the competition. Aishwarya who won the 3rd place had failed to spell the word ‘Menhir’.It was a surprise for me that the word which I had heard so often during my school days had eluded the memory of a Spelling Bee finalist.

The Asterix stories along with the Tintin series have been a source of reading pleasure for comic enthusiasts around the world. The varied adventures of Asterix and his close friend Obelix were a craze for youngsters like me at that time. Every Asterix comic started with the introduction of the Roman Empire which had conquered every surrounding territory except for a tiny colony of Goths (French tribe). The Goths have survived many attempts of takeover from the Romans. The secret to this is attributed to the magic potion consumed by the Gothic warriors prepared by a druid Getafix. Of these the popular warriors are Asterix and his close friend Obelix.

The Asterix series are filled with action, humour which at times is sarcastic and all other sentiments which made it such an interesting read. As you would have noticed, most of the Gothic character names end with ‘ix’. The chief is named ‘Vitalstatistix’, the bard who is bashed uo even before he can try to sing is named ‘Cacafonix’ and the pet dog of Obelix is named ‘Dogmatix’.

In the village each of the guys have a particular occupation and that of Obelix is to deliver menhirs (huge blocks of stone cut in a cone like shape) to the stone mason. Obelix who is supremely strong due to him falling into a pot of magic potion when he was a baby carries these menhirs on his back for delivering them.

While the initial story series centered around the neighboring Roman camps, the later ones were woven around other exotic countries like Egypt (Asterix and Cleopatra), Britain (Asterix in Britain), Spain (Asterix in Spain) and even India (Asterix and the magic carpet)!!

The funny scenes used to be that of Obelix and Asterix thrashing the entire Roman army and Obelix walking away with the Roman helmets and muttering to himself “These Romans are crazy!”

I guess the French story writers had a great sense of imagination and humour since both the Tintin and Asterix series were written by French speaking people. Tintin comics originated in Belgium whose citizens speak the French language.

Whatever it is, probably the participant at Spelling Bee would definitely rue the fact that she had missed a great opportunity to get a better result at the competition.


mathew said...

nice to know you are a asterix fan too..i love it...and along with Tintin are my favourite comics..;-D

i recollect now the countless times i used to read it secretly when i was supposed to study...

Karthik said...

i recollect now the countless times i used to read it secretly when i was supposed to too :-)

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Anonymous said...

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kochuthresiamma p .j said...

am a huge tintin fan