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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Banning a book pointless in today's age: Ruskin Bond

IANS  Mussoorie, April 11, 2014
First Published: 15:29 IST(11/4/2014) | Last Updated: 15:46 IST(11/4/2014)

It's pointless banning a book in today's day and age when everything is easily available at the click of a mouse. A ban, instead, hypes up even a not-so-worthy book for readers, said noted writer Ruskin Bond.

"It is no use banning a book in today's age because one can easily read it from the internet. So it becomes difficult to ban any form of literature now," the 79-year-old told IANS in an interview at the Cambridge Bookstore in Mussoorie, where he visits every Saturday to sign books and interact with readers.

He was commenting on the controversial withdrawal of the US scholar Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History that was taken off the market in February by its publishers (Penguin) following pressures from various groups.

"Sometimes it also gives undue importance to the book," the plump, bespectacled and ruddy-complexioned Bond, who will turn 80 in May and still has a fair amount of silver hair on on his head, said.

"Personally I think Doniger's book did not deserve all the fuss. It wasn't doing particularly well, but after this controversy, more people wanted to read the book," the Padma Bhushan recipient pointed out.

Read: Author Ruskin Bond on winning Padma Bhushan

Even though the raconteur understands the importance of internet, he is unapologetic about being "technologically illiterate", and proudly admits he would always prefer the smell of books over the swiftness of web.

"A book is something you can keep. It is something you can possess for years," said the writer, who penned his first novel "The Room on the Roof", when he was 17.

"People like building their own libraries and these books will always be there. Other forms of entertainment will come along with it," he added.

Of British descent, Bond, who was born in Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, and grew up in Jamnagar in Gujarat, has surrendered to the quaint surroundings of Landour near Mussorie, now in Uttarakhand, since 1964.

This is where he writes, using pen and paper and not bowing to the lure of technology.

Read: Get out and play, Ruskin Bond tells children

"The written word still holds the foundation of story telling. Now-a-days many people prefer to write on the laptop and computer, but I very much believe in the power of written word," said the Sahitya Akademi recipient who is best known for children's literature and ghost stories.

Author of over 300 short stories, poems and novels, he has written works like "Ghost Stories from the Raj", "A Town Called Dehra" "The Parrot Who Wouldn't Talk" and novels like "Vagrants in the Valley", "The Blue Umbrella" and "Angry River".

His autobiographies, like "Rain in the Mountains" and "Scenes from a Writer's Life " talk about his life in Dehradun and trip to England also fall within his literary oeuvre.

Despite writing exhaustively on his personal life, nature and the many people around him for over three decades, the writer of British descent feels he would never run out of stories.

Read: The name is Bond, Ruskin Bond

"I have always written a lot about my past. As I go back into my life, and the older I get, I have more to write on because there are many family, friends, incidents and events to be remembered and told," said Bond, whose iconic character Rusty was inspired from his own life.

"There is never going to be a day when I will run out of material to write about," he added.

 Bond has a big surprise for his fans, who would soon be reading a philosophical tale from the author.

 "Age has not taken a toll on my writing, but it has taken a toll on my tummy," he said with a hearty laugh.

 "Now I am writing something philosophical because as you get older your views on life change," he candidly admitted.


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