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Ruskin Bond pens 'funny' tales

The author regaled audiences during the launch of his new book Funny Side Up in the national capital. Mishty Varma tells more.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 18:11 IST
Mishty Varma (
Mishty Varma (

India's favourite children's writer, Ruskin Bond, released his latest book - Funny Side Up, a collection of observations of (and from) daily life, handled with the gentle irony that is the trademark of most of Mr Bond's writings.

Besieged by questions from nearly all attendees of the book launch, Mr Bond spoke on a number of topics ranging from music to writing:

On visibility:
"Yes, I had written 'writers should be read and not seen'. There was a time when someone like P.G. Wodehouse could go out and not be recognised. But now writers have to sell themselves, as well."

On writing:
"I became a writer because I was terrible at mathematics. The most I managed was 23 out of 100. I started writing straight after school - I was 18 or 19 when I wrote my first book.

My father told me to keep a diary. When you write, inspiration will come to you.
I am not very disciplined when it comes to writing. Sometimes, when I am inspired, I write a lot, and there are a few days when I don't write at all.
I start writing in the early morning because noon is difficult to stay awake, and in the evenings I take walks.

I am a storyteller; I prefer to write with a pen. I don't make too many corrections either. I leave that for my publishers. My editors take printouts and send the drafts back to me."

On books being made into films:
"It's nothing new. A lot of old movies - English movies - were based on books. I am quite pleased that Vishal Bharadwaj is making a film [Chhatri Chor] of my story [Blue Umbrella]. I didn't think that it would be made into a film one day.

I feel that a film should capture the spirit of the work. For writing to be converted to a film, it should have a visual quality; more importantly, it should be a powerful story.

I think most of Dickens's works lend themselves well to cinema.

I am not sure [on converting books to films]; I think it is better to write an original screenplay, instead."

On his preferred genre:
"When you start writing poems, you find you cannot resist writing them. I enjoy doing both, prose and poetry."

On criticism:
"No one tells me when I get praised for my books but they are all there to point out criticism, 'look what he has written about you'. Every writer needs encouragement, young and old."

On books:
"My father encouraged me to read. I read far more in my twenties and thirties. Somehow, I had more time then, you know. I read old favourites very often, but I try to keep up with recent writing.

I read all of Dickens when I was in school, but I find it difficult to read Dickens now.

When I began in the 60s, there was little general publishing. Only a few crazies would shell out five bucks for a book.

Children should read what they like, but just read."

On a couple of his own works:
"Rusty's boyhood stories are, well, my alter ego.

Bindiya Passes By is one of my personal favourites.

Titles under my name? They must be nearing hundred now, I think." [This was corroborated by the publisher]

On receiving an honorary doctorate [from Uttaranchal University]:
"I got a degree without studying."
Nahi, nahi! No teaching appointments!"

On music:
"I enjoy music, yes, but no one allows me to sing. Cars have been known to break down when I sing."

Amusing and anecdotal, in Funny Side Up you can find the story of the monkey which uses the author's telephone ("to call his relatives," Mr Bond supposed) to the best tea he has ever had - which, incidentally, had been prepared by a convict who was working for the gaol warden's wife, to a cricket poem ("since every one is into cricket these days"). Mr Bond even read aloud parts of the latter - after a quick disclaimer that "it [the poem] is not to be taken seriously" - wherein he suggests that wickets should be taller and broader but the size of the bat should remain the same. But then, Mr Bond "always had a soft spot for bowlers."

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 16:41 IST