Tuesday, May 19, 2015

With Love from the Hills


Answering the doorbell on a hot afternoon can be pleasant only if it is rung by a Flipcart/Amazon boy. He delivered two books written by the boy whose birthday is being celebrated by his innumerable fans today. 

'With Love from the Hills' by Ruskin Bond looks like a picture book for three year olds. The moment I pulled the red thread attached to it, a window opened to a beautiful scenery straight from a kid's scrap book. I tried to hide it from my daughter who will be English Major soon but couldn't. Unable to supress her laughter she enquired, "What have you ordered ?" I guessed that the book was meant for very little ones. The book is written in a diary form in longhand font. It is as enjoyable as any book by him. 

I never desired to meet the writers I love to read as  he has already shared the best and worst moments of his life with me through his books. I feel closer to Bond sahib because he lives in a Garhwali household. He must be  familiar with the language  my parents and I speak. We grew up in the same city, Dehradun. As a kid he might have rubbed shoulders with my father in Paltan Bazar. 

Whenever I alight at the Dehra railway station I think of the ten year old Ruskin sitting on a tin trunk all alone. Nobody came to receive him. He was back from his boarding school. He hired a tonga and reached his grandma's house where he was not welcomed. Immediately he was diverted to his mother and stepfather's house. How badly he would have missed his dear father whom he had lost only a few months back. Can there be anything more haunting?

I wonder why Ruskin Bond is called children's author. Would a ten year old relate to his writings, humour and little details the way I do?  My children who are avid readers could never relate to his writings. They would ask, 'Would you accept jalebis from a stranger?" Like he does in one of his stories. And why he has to describe even the hedge of his house? How I love when he "describes the hedge of the house", because I have seen those hedges which are no longer seen in Dehra now. How would the kids living in multi-storeyed buildings know that a wind-storm sometimes blows the tin-roofs away and so many little things.

The books specially written for kids are gems. I gave my students, ' A long Walk for Bina' and they loved it. It talks about problems of migration, displacement and making of big dams and their ill effects on the wildlife of the surrounding area which they are studying in EVS.

Thank you Ruskin Bond for all the moments when while reading your books I'd smiled or was moved or had blurted 'Good", "Ha ha","Great", "Exactly","Right" "Sahi", and "he writes so well"! 

Happy birthday.



Saturday, May 09, 2015

Trending, Follow, Comment


We are caught in the Web World. Here we know strangers, acquaintances, celebrities, international sensations, idols and  favourites as a mother-in-law knows her daughter-in- law or we know our co-workers. We are aquainted with their extensive wordrobe, menu last night, the place of their birth, schooling, 'worked at', without even being inquisitive.

This experience becomes a bliss when the person is someone we admire i e a role model or favourite author. I am not fortunate enough to know the comment or one liners from the writers I enjoy reading most. Khushwant Singh passed away without even having a Twitter account and Ruskin Bond is still tied to his typewriter. But in a way it's a bliss for sure because they are also humans. They might post something which is not as sublime and politically correct as while writing leisurely when they have ample of time to edit and re-edit. Thus Singh and Bond are safe, but others are judged everyday. The lyricist who penned  love anthems  during our youth, tweets something nasty about my fav leader and loses all my respect. What when an actor who defined perfection on screen, posts something he feels strongly about but sounds anti-feminist ? He blocks all the love and affection from his female fans.

Now we know how human those people are whom we thought were highly sophisticated and suave. They can also be rude. Read the reviews of Chetan Bhagat's novel on blogs by the renound critics to know what I mean. Each one has something humiliating stored for him, but they do long for the economics that follows the release of his books.  Giving a bad review is fine but language could be civil.

We get to read all types, from wordsmiths to novices. The veterans know how much of their 'spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings' should be revealed and the novices do not know how much to hide.

This is the best time for the people who want to write to share what they think with their  friends. Blogs are the comforting arms which give them assurance of freedom. All the grammatical and other mistakes are forgiven.There is no fear of rejection from the editors  and publishers. The good news is that many bloggers are successful writers today.

So like in real life, in the virtual world also the same rule applies, Jo achha lage usse apna lo, jo bura lage usse jaane do. (take the good and leave the bad)