We the Pune Raccoons did our own short and sweet “Secret Santa” amongst a dozen members, collected at one of more bigger hearted Raccoons place and rocked the total evening exchanging books and eating the delicacies, some prepared by our host, some brought in by members and what not. You can just imagine what happens when a dozen odd book readers collect at one place and exchange books covered with wrappers and no names on them 🙂 and this is the book that I received that day. I still do not know who was my amazing Santa that night But whoever you are, just know that you are super Kool and I am totally glad to restart my Ruskin Bond journey with this superb book, totally loved it. The last that I had read of Ruskin Bond was way back in early 2000 when my nephew was studying in a Boarding School in between Dehradun and Mussoorie. We used to visit him alternate weekends (compulsory family visit) from Delhi and I was the official driver, thanks to my love of driving and since I had nothing much to do during those breaks but read a book or two while his parents (my cousins) meet him. Now at that time any book store in Dehra as well as Mussoorie were full of his books, I had no idea why, till I read that he actually used to live there (he still does) and my journey of reading his books and dreaming to come across the man himself started. Till today, that dream isn’t fulfilled yet but after reading this collection of stories about Rusty (himself), philosophy and part biography, I really want to see him once if not meet.
Ruskin Bond is one name that makes you feel absolutely at home (absolute India) with his writings and the best part back then and even today is that you do not need a dictionary to read his stories and books. I so much love his simplicity and the straight from the heart stories. It never feels like a guy with that kind of a foreign name (and background) is writing them, it actually feels like these are our own childhood stories as narrated by our own Grandma to us and nothing else. The trees, fruits, birds, hills, train journeys, the India and the way he covers life in here is simply out-standing. It actually kept me smiling throughout and even made me laugh out loud big-time, other than a Wodehouse, no book so far has achieved that I actually rocked the chair I was sitting and laughed that hard but Mr. Bond has that magic in him (watch out for the chapter dedicated to his Grand Father and his histrionics right at the very start). I am sure if you have read any of his works or this one, you will surely agree. Rusty as I said is nobody else but him and what a heart warming story(s) this is with him being a mere ten year old kid to his adolescent years, struggling with the loss of his father at quite a young age, broken family, a step dad (and his end) from one relative to another and then losing out on the last of the family members, living the recluse life still working hard to fulfill his dream and finally achieving it. This is his childhood stories with him in school and the adventures that Rusty had with his friends in toes, he makes so many friends and relations while going through all that, that it tells so much to us about Bond’s character. Although the reader needs to be a bit careful of the timeline and do the math himself but it simply is too good.
What I loved most about the book and the stories was that they no way feel his, they rather feel my own, one way or the other :), Bunking school, going for movies, running away from home, going broke, finding friends, discovering the village, town, cities even country on his own, I guess we all have done that at that age and his adventures were no different but simply too good. I had such a great connect with the book and it’s so many loving characters and so many of them stand out that I will never be able to forget them ever. If you have read this or any of his other works, do let me know which one is your favorite. But if you haven’t, you better get it ASAP and read them too. And I am sure quite a few of us must have met the man in person too as he is so easily accessible to public at a book store in Mussoorie and his home at Dehradun. Looking forward to meet the man one day in person. Now I am too keen to read his Autobiography “A Lone Fox Dancing” which gets a little mention in this book.