Eighty-three years ago, on a Saturday in May, same date as today, India’s favourite writer was born in a military hospital in Kasauli, which was at the time a part of British India. The British left India a long time ago, even many Indians migrated from the hill states to cities, but that writer whom we now know to be Ruskin Bond, is still holding the fort. No matter how ‘developed’ his favourite high places become, with Ruskin Bond survives the spirit of the mountains.
A lot has been written about the writer who chose mountains over marriage, neighbourhood bookshops over glamorous literary festivals, typewriters over mobile phones and French beans over red roses. Not all of it is true, the assumption that he’s a children’s writer certainly isn’t. If in fact there was a genre called Simplicity, that is where you’d find Mr Bond.
There have been a successive number of books released by Ruskin Bond, a lot of them collections and anthologies more to do with his publishers. The best of these almost got lost in the numbers. Much like the lovely TV show Ek Tha Rusty based on a mix of Bond’s life as well as fictions, aired on Doordarshan first in 1995 and more recently with two more seasons between 2012 and 2015.
Below are 5 titles that are not only must-haves for his fans, but also excellent examples of Bond’s diverse repertoire.
Classic Ruskin Bond (Vol 2)
The first volume of Penguin’s Classic Ruskin Bond collection features some of the author’s best novels, but it is in this second volume that the man behind the stories comes to life. The selection includes his autobiographical writings and memoirs – some of his most poignant, most honest words are in these pages.
The Sensualist: A Cautionary Tale
The Sensualist is a surprise, an unexpected deviation from his other works, a novella that gladdens many readers for it shakes off his association with children. This dialogue between a traveller and an ascetic landed him with obscenity charges in 1974 (!), but was thankfully republished by Penguin two decades later.
Tales Of The Open Road
This is old school travel writing, but the Ruskin Bond way, where every place he passes through comes alive not only with its commonplace characters but also its unique landscape.
The Ruskin Bond Horror Omnibus
This collection, not written but thoughtfully edited by Ruskin Bond, features horror tales personally selected by the author for all fans of classic terror on page.
A Little Book Of Life
Finally, no Ruskin Bond lover’s bookshelf is complete without this hardbound collection of Bond’s favourite sayings, some of his own words and some quoting his favourite authors and his grandmother alike. It is divided into various sections on thoughts about nature, friendship, love and other more practical topics like money that sound quite insignificant next to livelier things in life like the presence of a sparrow. Buy this little gem here.
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Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.