"I was in dreamland and I thought you were part of my dream,” said Ruskin Bond, 74, as we entered the tiny conference room where he held fort. He looked tired but sat up once we established our credentials as fans. Copies of his latest book, The Parrot Who Wouldn’t Talk and Other Stories, lay strewn across a table in the centre of the room.
With over 300 short stories over the past five decades, Bond believes there is now a visible change in the Indian attitude towards children’s publishing. “There’s been an improvement in the designing, the illustrations, the quality… it was always a neglected field but things are improving.” And would he credit it to Harry Potter? “I have read one Harry Potter... the important thing is that the series had a positive effect. Kids who had never read a book at all were reading Harry Potters. It helped publishers take children’s literature seriously, even parents were reading those books.”
Having written The Blue Umbrella for Vishal Bhardwaj, he is now working on another script for the director and might film this one too. “It’s a black comedy tentatively called The Merry Widow.” Mention rumours of Bond acting in a Bollywood flick and he says, “You see, this local reporter (in Mussoorie) came to interview me. He spoke in broken English and I spoke in my limited Hindi, and somehow what I told him about my scripts was reported as me acting in a film!” His friends began calling him, kidding about who his co-star was going to be. “I said Aishwarya Rai.”