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Beyond Bond

Ruskin Bond in a candid chat

Photo: G.R.N Somasekhar

Full of verve Ruskin Bond continues to delight with words and verse

Some people inadvertently become part of our system. Like over the years most of us have internalised Ruskin Bond. As the good old man of Indian literature turns 73 on May 19, he says his name did help. “Some editors used to give a second look to my manuscript just because it was a strange Indian name for them.” Bond wrote his first novel Room on the Roof when he was just 17 and won the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial prize for it.

One of the greatest writers on solitude, this Sahitya Akademi Award winner laments being branded a children’s writer. “Partly the media is responsible. Recently, I went to a Rajasthan school. There they have prescribed Stran gers in the Night, which I wrote with mature readers in mind. Similarly, people forget that I also wrote The Sensualist, which once faced obscenity charges from the moral brigade in Mumbai.”

These days Bond is in news, for his story Blue Umbrella” that has been made into a film by Vishal Bhardwaj. I am a visual writer. I develop the entire story in my mind pictorially before putting it on paper.”

Bond misses the cinema halls in his abode, Mussoorie. “Earlier there used to be six cinema halls, today there is none. I am a fan of Guru Dutt and Satyajit Ray.” Bond is not unduly worried about Harry Potter’s popularity among Indian middle class kids. “I take it as a positive development. At least now, children have been introduced to books. Now it is up to them what they choose to read in the future. However, at the same time I feel every country should have its own characters and situations, with which children can identify.”

Another encouraging thing, he adds, is after the success of Harry Potter, Indian publishers have suddenly started showing increased interest in children’s literature.

Bond doesn’t give too much credit to the emerging fad for creative writing courses. “I believe creative writing is something a person is born with. You can polish it, but it comes more from reading the classics. Reading John Grishams can teach you the form, not the content and aesthetics.” Bond feels there is no one method to writing. “At times I write for two-three hours at a stretch, and at times I don’t write for days.” However, his well-documented afternoon siesta is a must.

Still full of creative juices, Bond is now writing a “book lover’s journey.”

He says his advancing age never makes him feel insecure about interacting with kids.

“I may not get that many fresh ideas, but I have three-four decades to reflect upon. I am a subjective writer who draws from relationships.”


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