Ruskin Bond is one of my favorite writers and I am super confident that whenever I pickup whichever of his books, it puts a wide smile on my face throughout the time it takes me to finish it. Although I always (read always again) find them too short and a breeze to read and they just get over too fast. I believe in humor department, PGW and Ruskin Bond have no match (do let me know if you think they actually do). When I need to laugh out loud I pick up a PGW and it without fail makes me roll over my chair and sofa where I do most of my reading. And when I need to go back in time in search of Nostalgia about good old days, I pick up a Bond book. No doubt, he is a true blue Indian, the use of so many typical Indian words confirms that time and again. For example so many times he says in his story that when he was “small” and not “young” :). And the use of so many authentic Indian terms like in this one, the laugh riot story of a guy selling “Saande-ka-tel” 🙂 or Bond himself using “Lifebuoy” soap or even better, his love towards Indian cuss words, for which he says there is no other language cuss words which come any closer in giving him any satisfaction 🙂 till he uses most of them to chill himself down a little, whenever he is angry. I am surprised that the stories that he has written in this book are mostly from the period between the late 50’s to early 60’s, yet not much has changed in our part of the world in last 50 odd years. Especially the small towns, life out there, the train travels, highways, friendly people you meet all over the country and so much more as he captured so beautifully in his heart touching stories.
I have another reason to love Ruskin Bond stories or shall I say I feel more closer to them as I have almost spent a good 2 years going off and on to Mussoorie almost every month while I stayed in Delhi. And the nearby areas which keep cropping up in all his stories, Chakrata, Kemptee, Landour, Dehra(doon), Simla, Shamli and a lot of more smaller lesser known areas. His love for the wild, animals, adventure and mis-adventures are to die for. Totally hilarious accounts of him going recluse with no money in the pocket, no set job, no recognized way of making money, yet he is able to survive on little mercies of people like Hassan who runs a bakery and lets him live in a room upstairs. The room although is no good but he praises the view from the little window of the attached toilet, where he spent most of his time 🙂 writing and creating his stories, now how funny and super kool is that. I had a jolly good time imagining Mr. Bond sitting on the western potty with a rickety old mammoth of a typewriter on his lap, furiously typing stories for us to laugh with :). His landing the fortunes accidentally and letting them go are not only hilarious but heart touching and tell a lot about the man we all love too.
All of his stories are straight from the heart and they feel so real that I seriously believe that they actually are cut out from his own life and I want to believe that none of them are really a work of fiction. The locations, the surroundings, the real life like characters, the animals, especially the tigers, leopards and bears, on top of that his adventures with them and mis-adventures too. I have learned so much from his stories in the past that I would really love to try a few of his stunts myself like the one where he is sure that if you call a Tiger an “Uncle”, he will not attack you and let you live :). And if you run into a Bear some day, try running downhill as Bears hate running downhill, so he may spare you :). His friendship with a pickpocketeer or an exiled Prince a last of his own kinds are super heart touching accounts. This book is more dedicated to the friends that he had made while living a couple of years in and around Pipalnagar and Fosterganj, not too far from Mussoorie. A Baker, a banker, a pick-pocket, a hair-lipped youth, an old boozer (a royal actually) who makes his own booze, and a few more that he keeps meeting off and on. But the best story of the lot is “The Blue Umbrella”, that I totally loved. Although I have seen the movie that one of our own acclaimed Director – Vishal Bhardwaj has made, but I don’t know why the Movie didn’t impress me much. May be I will see it again after reading the story and see if it works this time around. The story is about a little girl and her brother, who find (or acquires) a beautiful Blue Umbrella and what all she faces because of the same is the story.
Have you read “Unhurried Tales”?, if not, you have to read this without fail, a gem of a book full of terrific stories. Which one is your favorite Ruskin Bond book? Do let me know, I would love to read it too. Although I am yet to get my own copy of his recently launched Autobiography “A Lone Fox Dancing”, have you read that?
PS: Do you know why Ruskin Bond calls God a “Mathematician”? Guess I need to read more of him or may be his Autobiography will have the answer.