With his enchanting tales like A Room on The Roof, The Blue Umbrella and Time Stops at Shamli, author Ruskin Bond has captivated readers of all age groups. As the beloved Mussoorie-based writer turns 83 today, he has a new book ready for his eager fans — Looking for the Rainbow: My Years with Daddy.
As the title suggests, the memoir focusses on the two years that he spent with his father in Delhi during the early 1940s. “This is the first time I’ve dedicated a book to him. This is my tribute to the man my father was, and what I learnt from him in that short period of time. I wish all children have a father like him,” he says. Bond doesn’t regret missing school during his stay in Delhi, as he was learning at home. “And the strange thing is, when I did go back to school, I got a double promotion,” quips Bond, who is ready with another book, Confessions of a Book Lover.
Delhi was nothing short of magical for the young Bond. “It was a different world back then. We used to take a tonga to Old Delhi railway station, and there were more people on cycles, and fewer cars. Connaught Place was just new, and we stayed nearby. I was familiar with all the cinemas, cafes and bookshops,” he says.
- The first book that Ruskin Bond read was Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
- After reading Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, he was inspired to write. In fact, the book even influenced him to run away from home! But he had to return soon, as he was out of pocket money.
- Among his own collection of stories, Bond’s favourite stories are The Thief, and The Lady On The Platform.
Does he visit Delhi often now? “I do, but that’s mostly for work, sadly. But I do try to make trips to my favourite haunts, whenever I can,” he says. About the title of the book, he says, “It’s from a song we used to sing in school.” He even obliges us by singing the first few lines: “If I remember correctly, it went something like this: Bye, bye rainy day, now I’m on my way, looking for a rainbow!” And indeed, rainbows seem to be an intrinsic part of Bond’s life. As he lives near the hills in Mussoorie, he says that he’s always happy to look over the hill and see a rainbow. “I’m an admirer of nature. That’s why I stay in the hills — it’s a perfect escape. And living in the hills, you get to see rainbows often, and it always brings me such joy.”
The author, who plans to come out with a full-length autobiography soon, says, “My readers anyway know a lot about my life through my stories, and I’m not a secretive person. It’s up to the reader to separate fact from fiction. But here’s a more extensive memoir (his autobiography) of my life, little things which I have not talked too much about before, like affairs here and there.”
Many of his characters are inspired from people he knew in real life. “I used to go to railway platforms and see people come by. That’s where I would get my ideas from. Of course, I can’t do that anymore,” he says with a laugh.
- His favourite foods include mutton kofta, fried fish and chips, and Malabari curry. “I eat whatever’s in front of me. I love a good buttered toast too,” he says.
A favourite character among his readers is Uncle Ken, who would always get into trouble of some sort. “I actually did have an Uncle Ken. Many of those stories were real, but then as readers took a great liking to him, I had to start writing more and had invent stories,” he says with a laugh.
So when he writes his stories, does he have a specific age group in mind? “When I started writing, I wanted my stories to be read by everyone. I didn’t have any age group in mind. But now, in today’s day and age, you’ve got to keep in mind who you’re writing for. Everything is so compartmentalised,” he says.