We had his stories in our English textbooks in school, we have seen his stories being made into movies (Saat Khoon Maaf) and we every now and then, we see a new book written by him being released. Ruskin Bond, the legendary author who is loved by children (and grownups too :)) for his simple and heart-warming books, lives in the most crowded hill station Mussoorie.
Visiting any place which has been maligned by commercialisation and is always crowded with tourists is not something I like doing. But Mussoorie is different, simply because this adorable old man lives here. Every Saturday he patiently signs books and poses for photographs with many avid followers at the Cambridge Book Depot on Mall Road.
I went there twice, once with my sister and nephew, and another time with my friend (who visited me in Dehradun just so that she can meet Mr Bond). That time, the store was crowded and I could barely get my copy of Maharani signed by him without falling on the stacks of books there.
I asked him whether he spends a lot of time with children to get inspiration to write books for them? “Being around children is the biggest distraction,” the Anglo-Indian writer said with a twinkle in his eye. “It is difficult to write two words when they are running around and making a lot of noise. So no, I try to stay away from them.”
And the next time I met him, I wanted to know if he was reading any book at the moment. He seemed a little taken aback, “Reading…. or writing?” the 80-year-old author wanted to clarify. I said reading.
“Oh nothing at the moment. Last week I was reading the biography of Somerset Maugham. I like his books a lot, but after reading his biography, I don’t like this fellow anymore,” he added with a chuckle.
There were so many things I wanted to talk to him about, just wanted to sit there and chit-chat. But I don’t think famous authors have so much time to entertain such fantasies. So until next time then…
If you want to meet Ruskin Bond, drop by on any Saturday between 3pm and 5pm at the Cambridge Book Depot on Mall road. Nearest landmarks are Kalsang restaurant and Nirula’s Fast Food. If you want to check with the bookstore if Mr Bond is in town, then call up on 0135- 2632224 or 9837258801 and owner of the bookstore would happily let you know about Mr Bond’s availability that week.