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Writing for children not easy: Ruskin Bond

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New Delhi: Writing for children is not an easy task as one has to get their attention from the first page itself, said legendary author Ruskin Bond. Delivering the annual Penguin lecture in the capital On Monday evening, the 81-year-old also shared memories spanning 65 years of his writing of beautiful mountains, unrequited love, ghosts and more.

“Writing for children is not an easy task. You have to get their attention in page one itself or they will keep away the book. You got to tell the story, “said Bond adding that he started writing specifically writing for children only at the age of 40. However, the writer, who has more than 150 titles to his credit, said that he enjoyed writing for both adults and children.

Littered with his trademark wit, the lecture titled ‘The joy of writing’ was lapped up by hundreds of Ruskin Bond fans who turned up at the Stein auditorium at India Habitat centre. As the auditorium couldn’t accommodate the overflowing audience, the organizers had to arrange LCD screens outside the venue.

According to Bond, writing in India has come of age so as the publishing scene. “Publishing in India has come of age and writing too. I would say that publishers are giving good royalties. Good writers needn’t go abroad to get published anymore. People can make a living out of writing,” said the Kasauli born writer who has settled in Mussoorie.

Admitting that he is a lazy writer, Bond said, “I don’t work very hard. I take many naps a day,” he laughed. Sharing tips to become a good writer, Bond advised aspiring writers that only an avid reader can turn in a good book. “A writer’s job is to create magic. Books will give us not just pleasure but companionship too. The other day, when I ran out of books, I picked up an Oxford dictionary and I found myself reading it page by page,” said the author who has won multiple awards, including the Sahitya Akademi Award for English writing in India and the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri – India’s third and fourth highest civilian honours.

Some of his books which made their way to Bollywood are “The Blue Umbrella” (of the same title), “A Flight of Pigeons (“Junoon”) and Susanna’s Seven Husbands (“Saat Khoon Maaf”).

“I played a cameo role in Saat Khoon Maaf directed by Vishal Bharadwaj. I was clumsy and they had to go for seven takes in the scene where I give a fatherly peck on Priyanka Chopra’s cheeks. Then Bharadwaj said that I was doing it deliberately”, Bond laughed.

Talking about his autobiography, he said that it is still in the process. “The autobiography might take some time. One has to stick to truth while writing it. Most of the times, you have the tendency to go off the track, but you have to pull yourself in,” said the author who weaves magic with his pen. Rusty (as he is fondly called), has no intention to grow up, he said. “When people ask me this question, I tell them that maybe after my 15th or 16th birthday!” as his latest Rusty adventure titled, “Rusty and the Magic Mountain” has been released recently.

Ghoulish characters may be lurking around the corner of his cottage in Landour, but the author says his ghosts are friendly. “You can see ghosts anywhere if you want to. My ghosts are friendly. I keep seeing them, but I don’t believe them. A girl once asked me to make my ghosts scarier. When you see some of the horror shows on TV, my ghost stories are not at all scary” he said.

And the author also revealed that writing is the biggest source of joy in life. “I enjoy being an author and writing stories, probably because that is what I have been doing the best, besides playing football. Except that at 81, I can still write but not football,” he signed off. (IANS)

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May 19 is Ruskin Bond’s 83rd Birthday: Author Ruskin Bond’s memories of his Dearest Father

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Ruskin Bond. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

– by Saket Suman

New Delhi, May 18, 2017: It is almost customary for Ruskin Bond to surprise his readers with a subtle reference to his childhood. The readers on the other hand — having devoured much of his works — prefer to assume that they know all about the life and times of this timeless writer. Every time you think you know enough about the writer, adored so dearly across the country, there is something new that he throws at you.

The elegance with which he does so is perhaps what keeps us intrigued about the life of the author, who has been writing for well over six decades now. What do we already know about Bond’s early days? That he did not have a very happy childhood, that his parents were separated and that he was often lonely.

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But one splendid year from Bond’s life escaped the public eye and this memoir, releasing on his 83rd birthday on May 19, takes readers back in time and lays bare the sheer joy that the then eight-year-old boy had with his father. In the foreword, he impresses upon the fact that sometimes memory improves with age and he now remembers things that he thought he had forgotten.

“Most of all I remember my father — ‘Daddy’, as I always called him.”

Bond seduces his young readers by repeatedly capturing a boy’s state of mind and reminds the elders that kids are particularly looking for “tenderness” from those they love. In this context, he says that not many fathers succeed in providing this tender care to their children because “they are usually too busy earning a living for the family”. Bond, fortunately, was lucky to have Aubrey Bond as his father, who gave him nearly all his spare time, shared his interests and held his hand in the dark.

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The ease with which he fits into the shoes of an eight-year-old boy and yet succeeds in maintaining the perennial charm associated with his vivid writing is commendable. The memoir’s narration is from the 83-year-old Bond’s perspective, but the imageries that he creates are all straight out of the eyes of the eight-year-old Rusty. He does not travel to and fro, rather it is a simple narration that starts in 1942 when he arrived in Delhi after leaving his school in Dehradun, and ends on a tragic note shortly after he joins a new school a year later.

In “Looking For The Rainbow”, readers are taken on an exciting ride down memory lane and elaborately told about the one year that Bond spent with his father in Delhi, having escaped his “jail-like boarding school in the hills”. This period is full of books, visits to the cinema, music, walks and conversations with his father — a dream life for a curious and wildly imaginative boy. But all of this turns tragic too soon.

He arrived in Delhi in the middle of World War II, the period when his parents too “had been at war with each other”. His father was serving in the Royal Air Force and was living in an Air Force hutment on Humayun Road in New Delhi. It was during that summer that Bond saw his first snake, went for walks up and down the ramparts of Red Fort, stored drinking water in an earthen jug or sohrai, and was quite happy to be on his own while his father was away at work.

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When the father-son duo were together, they went for movies and spent time arranging stamps of his father, who was an avid collector. But that was not all, his father always made him breakfast before leaving for office. A couple of toasts with a half-boiled egg, occasionally a sausage, lots of jam and lots of tea with condensed milk were what the “greedy little boy” preferred.

The little boy goes to a boarding school again and makes some good friends too. And then one day, his teacher, Mr. Young, was handed over the unenviable task of giving him the bad news.

“‘Your dear father,’ he stammered. ‘Your dear father — God needed him for other things.’ I knew what was coming and I burst into tears. I had no one else in the world — just that one dear father — and he had been snatched away. We had been taught that God was a loving, merciful being, and here he was doing the cruellest possible thing to a little boy,” Bond recalls.

An extraordinary offering by India’s most loved author, the book captures the little nuances — fantasies, expectations and often void — that children face but remain largely unknown to their guardians. The book has been beautifully illustrated by Mihir Joglekar and is published by Puffin india. (IANS)

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Times Lit Fest presents Lifetime Achievement Award to Noted Author Ruskin Bond in Delhi

Ruskin Bond advised his young readers to become "one's own best friend" and read as many books as possible

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Books by Ruskin Bond. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Nov 26, 2016: Noted author Ruskin Bond was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at Times Lit Fest here on Saturday for his outstanding contribution in the field of literature.

Bond, moments after receiving the award, reminded his young readers of climate change in the course of conversation with writer Paro Anand.

“Nature has been really kind to me. So I think I can give back to the nature by celebrating it. I am not an activist, but I can celebrate it in my writings,” the author said as he took a pause to think.

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“For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we should try and save the planet,” he said.

Bond was speaking to a packed house, comprising of young school children and elderly, at India Habitat Centre here.

“I am not a pessimist so I will not say that life will end in 50 years. I am an optimist so I will say that life may end in 150 years,” said an emotional Bond, whose writings reflect his close proximity to the nature.

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“It has always been my observation that I have written better when I am in the lap of the nature. People have been my stories, animals have been my stories and when I run out of people and animals, I make stories out of ghosts. But there is an element of nature all through.”

He advised his young readers to become “one’s own best friend” and read as many books as possible.

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“Reading books has sustained me right from a young boy to this age. It has always made me feel that life is beautiful,” he said.

Bond also responded to questions from young readers and shared his answers on diverse issues, ranging from the current state of children’s literature in the country to the number of times he has fallen in love at first sight, second sight or at hindsight, for that matter. (IANS)

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Ruskin Bond: Children’s Author celebrates his 82nd B’day

Ruskin Bond has been writing since 40 years and has written more than three hundred short stories, essays, novels, over thirty books of children and two volumes of autobiographies.

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Ruskin Bond. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Ruskin Bond, a wonderful Indian author, who has won the hearts of many with his intriguing words. He is best known as a children’s’ story writer and is considered as one of the greatest Indian authors of the English language.

Few things about the author that will give you a glimpse of his life:

  • Ruskin Bond was born on May 19, 1934, in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh.
  • He spent his childhood in Jamnagar (Gujarat), Dehradun, and Shimla.
  • In 1950, he wrote his first short story titled “Untouchables” when he was just 16.
  • After completing his schooling, he moved to England for further education. It was there that he completed his first novel “The Room On The Roof” when he was seventeen and it got published when he was 21. This novel received the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial prize in 1957.
  • Initially, many of his stories were also published in newspapers and magazines.

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  • His stories have also been adapted by many film makers. The Hindi movie Junoon was based on his novel “A Flight of Pigeons” which was produced by Shashi Kapoor and directed by Shyam Benegal.
Books by Ruskin Bond. Image source: Wikipedia
Books by Ruskin Bond. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Saath Khoon Maaf (based on Susanna’s Seven Husbands) and The Blue Umbrella (based on a book with the same title) both directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. Ruskin Bond, in fact collaborated with Bhardwaj in the making of The Blue Umbrella which won the National Award for Best Children’s film.
  • He has been writing since 40 years and within this span of his writing career, he has written more than three hundred short stories, essays, novels, over thirty books of children and two volumes of autobiographies.
  • His writing career has brought him a number of awards. He received the Sahitya Academy Award (1992) for English writing in India for Our Trees Still Grow In Dehra. Other awards include Padma Shri (1991) and Padma Bhushan (2014).

Here is a short poem by Ruskin Bond:

 

RAINDROP

This leaf, so complete in itself,

Is only part of the tree.

And this tree, so complete in itself,

Is only part of the forest.

And the forest runs down from the hill to the sea,

And the sea, so complete in itself,

Rests like a raindrop

In the hand of God.

-By Pashchiema Bhatia