Ruskin Bond

Rusty and I

Since quite a few years, I keep visiting book exhibitions which are held in Pune’s Institution of Engineers’, where they sell English books at reduced rates. And I have found many treasures there. The book titled Rusty and I by Swapan Banerjee is one such book which not only introduced me to Ruskin Bond and also led me into his world of books. Before that, like others, I also had heard about Anglo-Indian writers like Ruskin Bond and Rudyard Kipling, but then had not paid much of attention to their writing due to other priorities. I want to write a bit about that book here today. I have written about Bond’s few other books here, and Kipling’s here in the past.

I always love books on books and also books on authors. And this one is both! The book is a collection(or anthology as the publisher says) of various writings such as interviews, reminiscences, reviews of his some works, poems and short story dedicated to him. Most of it has appeared at various places such as Amirta Bazar Patrika, in the past. The book has introduction by famous Odiya/English writer Manoj Das as well. I also got introduced to him through this book only(yes, I know I am exhibiting my literary illiteracy here, but that is what it is!)

Ruskin Bond

Cover page of the book

The book’s front blurb says, ‘Rusty and I is a tangible expression of the highest admiration for the great literary gift and rare humanism of Ruskin Bond. At the time, Bond was pilloried and tomahawked by some critics who thought him fit only to be published in weekend supplements as his style of writing, according to them, was ‘simplistic’. To me, exactly due to this simplistic writing he is adored even today. In this book itself, there is an interview by Dr Prabhat K Singh, author of Creative Contours of Ruskin Bond. In that interview’s opening note, Dr Singh mentions Bond explaining in his book Best of Ruskin Bond, that goes like this: ‘People often ask me why my style is so simple. It is, in fact deceptively simple. It is clarity that I am striving to attain, not simplicity. Of course, some people want literature to be difficult. And those who think this is simple should try it themselves.’

The best part of the book which I like is those three interviews of Ruskin Bond which author himself has taken at various times, in which various facets of Ruskin Bond come out. The other interesting part is letters between Bond and the author. I also liked the report on first Mussorie’s Writers Mountain Festival, which has now got lot of fame.

The book is about long lasting bond with Rusty, which is Ruskin Bond himself(the little boy in his famous book The Room on the Roof), and the author Sawapan Banerjee. We are also introduced to Rusty’s simplistic approach to life, down to earth personality, and someone who has never hurt anyone. The author’s admiration and regard towards Rusty is all in this book. If you are Ruskin Bond lover, you need to grab his book. The other thing, I need to do is to watch television series made on him titled Ek Tha Rusty, which I had watched few times accidentally. Not sure if anyone here has watched it. Ruskin Bond is over 80 these days. It is very heartening to know that Rusty still writes. I see him writing in Times Of India’s Sunday editions. I wish that he keeps writing and giving us a joy!

The Room of Many Colours-Ruskin Bond

One of my friends had visited Mussoorie few months back. I had informed him that, if he visits book stores there he might see Ruskin Bond obliging the book buyers. I came to this fact, when I had read his book Roads to Mussoorie, about which I wrote here. When he came back and handed over me the book The Room of Many Colours, which was autographed by none other than Ruskin Bond, I was pleasantly surprised. This blog is not a review of that book, but just a collection of my thoughts about it, the author, which came to my mind when I was reading it and a bit of introduction.

20151017_213937 20151017_214104This book is a collection of his short stories. This was published in the past as A Treasury of Stories for Children. Now that title takes a form of second title of the book, which has 2 more stories added to it. Ruskin Bond is a ferocious writer, as the first page of the book, says, he has written over 500 short stories and articles. The introduction pages by Ruskin Bond, traces how he developed love for books, by narrating 3 days of marathon reading, in the forest, where he discovered a book shelf of over 50 books, while accompanying his stepfather on hunting trip. I have been always been fascinated about books/articles/speeches about books themselves.

Though the books title calls it as a treasure of stories for children, the book is mainly contains articles which are recollection of author’s childhood days. Many of them funny, and some of them very touchy. For example, the last story(or article, you want to call it as), titled ‘The Big Race’ describes, race of beetle bugs, which he, as a child, played with his friends, and how he and his beetle named Maharani won the race. The other titled ‘Remember This Day’ is a recollection of his memories in school of Shimla, and his day out in Shimla, when his father visited him. The touchy part is when you learn that it was this day when he saw his father last time. Reading these stories which happen in Shimla, I recollected my recent visit to Shimla and the surrounding region recently, which I have written about here. The story from which this collection gets its title from, The Room of Many Colours, is longest story, in the book.

I enjoyed this Ruskin Bond book. It is amazing to see how he recollects his childhood memories, and how vividly and lucidly writes about them. His loves towards books, Himalaya, places where he stayed, people he met, can be seen through the pages. This was my second so far, and looking for more of him now. My favorite line is one in the introduction pages. It goes, ‘Most of our living has to happen in the mind. And to quote one anonymous sage from my Trivet: “The world is only the size of each man’s head.”‘

PS: You may be interested in Rusty and I book by Swapan Banerjee about which I have written on this blog.

Roads to Mussoorie

I am avid trekker-been trekking in Sahyadris for more than 10-12 years now(though, off late, not much of that). I know I have not written much about that on this blog. But on that sometime later. Since long, I have been dreaming of trekking in Himalayas. I have been envying folks who kept telling me on their bit of Himalayan odyssey while some others also have gone to extent of undergoing basic mountaineering course at Pahalgam. Even my parents have traveled to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Badrinath on couple of occasions, of course, for pilgrimage. I also had a bit my Himalayas when I had visited Kashmir region few years back, but again that was not trekking. This year, I was seriously thinking of Himalayas, but looks like it is not going to happen as we have planned a leisure trip of Shimla/Manali.

Incidentally, I got hold of Ruskin Bond’s book ‘Roads to Mussoorie’  from my book shelf which was sitting there to be read. I had bought this one last year. With Himalayan treks at the backdrop of my mind, I decided to read it. I distinctly remember his article on Mussoorie in ‘Outlook Traveler Getaways: 75 Holidays in Hills’.  Anglo-Indian nature lovers such as Jim Corbette, Ruskin Bond, Rudyard Kipling have produced impressive literary works based on nature, wildlife, mountains, people of Himalayas. All of them have been living in northern part of India, especially, near Himalayan range. They have explored northern India in different ways. I have not read any of that until now. Of course, we all know about Rudyard Kipling’s work Jungle Book because of a very popular TV serial few decades back.

As the rear blurb of the book says it is memorable evocation of a writer’s surroundings and the role they have played in his work and life. Mussoorie has been his home for more than 40 years now. This short book contains articles written in humorous style about various journey’s he took to and fro this place, people he met, places he trekked to. The humor starts right from the page one. Instead of staring with Foreward as it is usually for a book, he starts with a Backward and ends with a Foreward. It is kind of down the memory lane kinda book, may be some form of autobiographical as well, as it does talk of certain childhood memories, though although as the preface of the book says that he has written about his life and family in the book ‘The India I Love’ and other books. It also talks of people he met on the way including pilgrims and various holy places(I remember )

Some articles which I liked the most are ones where he writes about his encounter with bears, with ghosts, and the article where he talks of his memories of cinemas in those days. It also has an article wherein it refers to an interesting historical fact about postal mail runners which postal department had before the advent of transport of postal mails by road or rail. The book has furthered my wish to visit Himalayan range, especially, for trekking. And also generated interest in his other books.