Thursday, August 21, 2008

LAST NIGHT I DREAMT OF RUSKIN BOND

Forgive me this interruption in LANES AND BYLANES…( I warned you of the unevevn ride).But today, I must write about Ruskin Bond, for I dreamt of him last night. In the dream, I was chasing him for a sound byte (blame it on my TV background) and Ruskin, being the gentleman that he is, did oblige me with one!

I am sure most of you have heard of Ruskin Bond. And for those who have not, here is a brief introduction of the much acclaimed and loved author. British by birth and an Indian by choice, Ruskin Bond has dedicated all his life to the written word. He writes from his hill abode of Mussoorie in Garhwal Himalayas and has been living there for more than forty five years now. I was first introduced to his writings in school.He has written a lot for children, stories, short stories and novellas and many of his stories are a part of curriculum in schools across the country. As a schoolgirl, I always found his stories delightful and fascinating, but what really converted me into a diehard fan of his was a non fiction work of his, a collection of diary extracts and personal essays, titled RAIN IN THE MOUNTAINS. I got hold of a copy of this absolutely fantastic piece of work in my first year of college and was instantly bowled over by the heart-warming simplicity and down to earth beauty of his prose. He spoke of the trees, the mountains, the valleys and of ordinary people, very simple things, but things that struck an immediate and intense chord with the reader. And something within me changed dramatically. RAIN IN THE MOUNTAINS taught me how to appreciate the simple joys and pleasures of life. It revealed to me the extraordinariness of the ordinary and the relevance of the mundane. I read that gripping piece of work again and again and again. It provided wings to my imagination and I promised myself that I would also write like him some day.

Such has been the powerful impact of Ruskin Bond's writing. But the gentle and unassuming author is too modest to accept that. Here's what he himself says about his writing , ' Amongst writers, I am not one of the big guns. I am not even a little gun. I prefer to see myself as just a small pebble lying on the beach. But I would like to think that I am a smooth, round, colourful pebble, and that someone will pick me up, derive a little pleasure from holding me, and possibly, even put me in his or her pocket. And if one tires of me, one can always throw me back into the sea. Perhaps a kindly wave will wash me ashore again, and someone else will pick me up.' (extract from the book, RUSKIN, OUR ENDURING BOND)

My first and only meeting with Ruskin Bond was quite dramatic. Exactly ten years ago, I made a quick trip to Mussoorie with some friends. It was the month of July and the rains had just set in. The hills wore a magnificent look and as Ruskin writes, ' one could watch from the window trees dripping and the mist climbing the valley ' (quote from the book, RUSKIN, OUR ENDURING BOND). The setting was just perfect for me to meet the biggest inspiration of my life. But how? That was the big question. I didn't know anything about his whereabouts in Mussoorie, neither did I know anyone who could get me the required information, for I was only a student then. The world of television was still a year away. I had read in RAIN IN THE MOUNTAINS that he lived in a rented accommodation called Ivy Cottage. But the book was written a few years ago. Ruskin could well have moved from there. Since there was no other clue, I trusted my instinct and dragging my friends along, set out on Mission Ruskin that rainy afternoon! Taking cues from the locals, we hurried up the hilly tracks to Ivy Cottage as rain drenched us to the bone. I didn't mind the rain at all, but my friends hated me for the torture.I could read it on their faces. Once we reached Ivy Cottage, they refused to accompany me upstairs, where Ruskin Bond lived with his adopted family. Leaving them down, and with tremendous apprehension, I knocked at the door. What if he didn't live there any more and worse, what if he didn't like my visiting uninvited? I was very nervous. One of Ruskin's grandsons opened the door. I told him the purpose of my visit. He told me to wait and went back . Few minutes later, Ruskin Bond appeared at the door.Yes, it was him, in flesh and blood standing right there in front of me. I was speechless and kept staring at him. Sensing my nervousness, Ruskin broke the silence, This is how the conversation went –

'Yes, young lady?'

'Sir, I am a huge fan of your writings. I came all the way from Delhi to meet you. I hope , I didn't disturb you.'

'Well, I was having my lunch! You came all by yourself?'

'No Sir, with a few friends.'

'Where are they?'

'They're waiting downstairs. They were too scared to come up.'

'What? You left them outside in the rain. Call them up.'

Soon all my friends joined me and we had a brief but very enriching conversation with the great wordsmith. And my respect and reverence for Ruskin Bond grew manifold.

Coming back to last night's dream. When I woke up in the morning, I got a pleasant surprise from my brother. He had brought me a Ruskin Bond book. And hold your breath, it had been autographed by and had a personal message for me from none other than…Ruskin Bond himself ! Actually, a famous bookstore in Delhi had organised an interaction with the author, just the other day. My brother who happened to be passing by the store, caught the sight of the famous author sitting inside and autographing books for his fans. Knowing very well my craziness for his works, he too got one autographed for me. And believe me, I haven't stopped smiling ever since I have caught hold of it.

To conclude, in Ruskin's own words, 'Life has not exactly been a bed of roses, yet, quite often, I have had roses out of season.'( from the book, RUSKIN, OUR ENDURING BOND)

2 comments:

pseudonymous me said...

whoaaa.... now that's what i call dramatis.
anyways much like you even i am a really big fan of ruskin Bond and well i did enjoy reading your blog and keep up the good work and i'll ba waiting for the caming posts.

wierd right not many comments in the english section?

have a nice day/// Pseudonymous

VIKRAM said...

Ruskin Bond is indeed a great storey teller & am sure he will be happy to read your blog featuring him.

Keep up the good work !