Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A chat with noted Indian writer Ruskin Bond

With thick-rimmed spectacles that rest on a bulbous nose, he could well be the affable granddad next door. He even has a paunch, maybe filled with several untold tales. Few would imagine him to be a prolific writer with nearly 70 titles to his credit, ones that still sell and enthuse. But that is how Ruskin Bond is – not an overnight literary sensation but a writer who fought odds since his teens to remain a writer and succeeded.

There have obviously been the cons, including, as he claimed, not being married. “I only started earning sufficient money in my 30s and 40s,” Bond said. “Now, when I look up the matrimonial columns, they are only seeking a Goyal or an Agarwal. Nobody wants to marry a writer,” he joked. For he does not mind his celibacy. “I have a family of 13 without a marriage,” Bond adds, referring to his adopted family that lives with him in his flat in Mussorie.

The writer is currently travelling to various places, including Jaipur, to promote his latest titles with Rupa & Co. “I have believed that writers should be read more than they are seen or heard but things are changing with the visual media,” he said. His latest book is titled “The India I Love”, a compilation of essays and poems. The 70-year-old’s next book, named for the moment “Ways to Mussorie”, is based on life in the hill station. His “Blue Umbrella” is also being made into a children’s film by Vishal Bharadwaj.

Crediting Harry Potter with putting children’s writing on the map, Bond said that writing for children requires one to not “self-indulgent” and “fairly disciplined”. “Adults would give you a second chance and read a few chapters but a child won’t” said he, who has grown up with books like “Alice In Wonderland” and “Peter Pan”.

Queried what his epitaph could read like, Bond replied that he had not thought of one yet. But he did recollect one that he had written for his uncle James Bond, who was a dentist. It read, “Stranger, approach this spot with gravity. James Bond his filling his last cavity.” That is Ruskin bond for us – immortally enchanting and jovial.


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