|Source: Penguin Books India|
Ensconced in the beautiful hills of Mussoorie, Bond leads an almost retired life in his second floor home, with his adopted family. Bond is to writing what a calm day is to a blitzkrieg.
Bonds leisurely style invites the reader to stop and smell the roses. Forget your mundane troubles, or better still, accept them in good humor, and continue to feel good about life. The style is pretty much unvaried across his entire body of work – novels, poems, non-fiction prose, journalistic pieces etc.
Bond is essentially a nature writer; the manner in which he brings alive the Garhwal Himalayan ranges on which the delightfully scattered town of Mussoorie is situated, totally maximized my experiences when I visited Mussoorie. I was lucky enough to stand below Ruskin Bond’s house and watch him water his pots on the sunny window ledge. We were unable to meet him, though, as he was not keeping too well.
In a way, that did not matter because I know him so well through his books. As I said, he is essentially a nature writer. One of my favorites is his The Book of Nature where his enviable botanical knowledge of the local flora is casually strewn amidst heartwarming descriptions of the same. A review reads thus – “Bond uses his pen as a brush to paint sensuous images of his experiences with nature….a book that relaxes the eye, rests the mind…”
This is his incomparable description of a mountain stream –
“ Moving the ferns a little, I discovered the spring, a freshet of clear sparkling water……I decided to follow its fortunes as it disappeared beneath a tunnel of tall grass and bracken fern…….I discovered that my little spring had grown, having been joined by the waters of another spring bubbling up from beneath a patch of primroses. A short distance away, a spotted forktail stood on a rock, surveying this marriage of the waters.”
I could go on and on. The impeccable vocabulary delicately draws the picture. Never supercilious or instructing, just observing and relating – that’s Bond. His Landour Days and Roads to Mussoorie are further tributes to his chosen place of residence.
Close observation is another of his strengths and is amply brought out in his novels the Flight of the Pigeons and Delhi is not Far. Tales of the Open Road is his travel writing over a long period of time and displays the same keen observation and precise rendition. He creates poetry out of a mundane street scene in Old Delhi.
“Shopkeepers nodded drowsily beneath whirring ceiling fans. The pavement barber had taken his customer under the shelter of an awning. A fortune-teller had decided that there was nothing to predict and had fallen asleep under the same awning.”
If this does not bring a place alive for the reader, nothing will. Ruskin is also a writer’s writer, I like to believe. His Notes from a Small Room reassure every aspiring writer that there are days of despair, there is writer’s block, there are deadlines and paychecks to worry about. Ruskin speaks to his readers and he keeps nothing to himself. It’s no wonder that the Ruskin Bond Omnibus is a favorite travel read for both my daughter and me.
There is also a little known book of horror stories by Bond, which are so sweet that they not scary at all. It further endeared him to me a writer bumbling about in a genre that is not his. His stories about boarding schools in Shimla and have found their way into school textbooks. Two of his stories, The Blue Umbrella and The Seven Husbands of Susannah have been made into Hindi films. The former is typically Bond, a gentle story about human relations. The latter explores the darker sides of human psyche (a fact that he is never afraid to face or admit) and is quite alarming, as the female protagonist goes about killing all her husband’s. The piece-de-resistance is that Ruskin himself makes a tiny appearance in the film.
Bond is timeless, I maintain. He is nostalgia for the old brigade and serenity for Gen Next. Can’t afford an exotic holiday? De-stress with Ruskin Bond.
I'm Ramya Raju, a freelance writer/web designer from India. I write on varied topics like English Courses, SEO, Web Design, Mobile, Marketing etc., I have an experience of about 8 years in content writing and have worked for top blogs and websites. I'm generally an extrovert; I like photography, anthropology and traveling to different countries to learn the culture and living of the local inhabitants.
E-mail id: firstname.lastname@example.org