Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oh to be up in the hills, like Mr Bond


Who doesn’t envy Ruskin Bond! I do. Every time I read about him or see his picture in the newspaper I wonder, if only life had been different and I had had the gift of storytelling like he had and the good fortune to have my books sold, I, too would have chosen a place far away from the maddening crowd, the offal, the noise and the traffic – up in the hills where the climes are cooler and you feel twenty years younger.

A week or so ago, Mr Bond was in Chennai and as my daughter got several of his books (including some of the old ones she had bought as a kid) autographed, she asked him for his email ID. Come over to Shimla, he quipped… That’s God’s gift, too. To be able to say something like that. Pure and simple luxuries that are not gifted to many. Well, if I was a good enough writer, I might have said the same thing: come over to Nainital or Dalhousie or Kullu Manali…

Oh, not Kullu Manali. My cousins and a nephew are just back after a whirlwind tour of north India. Kullu Manali, they say, is warm! Yesterday, when I met another cousin at a family do, he said the same thing – Coonoor is warm. With the way we are destroying our forests and chopping down trees mercilessly, all this comes as no major surprise. It may only be a matter of time before we begin to see old homes and bungalows in the hills being bulldozed by ‘developers’ to make way for skyscrapers. What a shame that will be!

Mr Bond is infinitely lucky. But even he knows only too well (and writes about it, too) that the Shimla of today isn’t quite the Simla of old. Am not sure whether the famous mall retains its old-world charm. Darjeeling’s, I’m told, does.

Well, I have The Room on the Roof and Mr Oliver’s Diary waiting for me on my table. But presently, I’m in the midst of Bill Aitken’s fascinating book called Seven Sacred Rivers. There’s no better friend than a book, is there? I learned that years ago when I fell in love with Enid Blyton’s books. I can imaging my sister writing her diary and finding time in the midst of teaching and household chores to read her favourite books. And now that the monsoon has hit Calcutta, there can’t be a better time with books and a hot, strong cup of tea. Mr Bond, perhaps, might like that.

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