Saturday, December 24, 2011

Buttercups and Butterflies

I just finished reading Ruskin Bond's Roads to Mussoorie. The book, covering numerous anecdotes from the writer's life, in and around Mussoorie and other places in the Garhwal Himalayas, is wonderfully written, peppered with humor and seasoned with sarcasm. One cannot expect anything less from a writer like Ruskin Bond. Reading Roads to Mussoorie brought back a stream of old memories- as a fifth grader, I would spend the winter afternoons in Dehra Dun, reading Ruskin Bond on the lawns, under the mild warm winter sunshine. This book is a gem, classic vintage Bond.

It begins with a 'Backward' instead of a 'Foreword' and ends with a 'Forward' instead of an epilogue. Beginning with a backward, Bond reasons, is because the book looks at the past. And it ends with a 'Forward', because 'forward we must march, whatever our age or declining physical prowess. Life has always got something new to offer.'

What struck me the most, as I read the book, was Bond's humility. He writes about traveling to Delhi in shared taxis, how he prefers to live in a 'tiny bedroom-cum-study' and long treks in the Siwaliks and Garhwal Himalayas. He also describes sacred shrines in these mountain regions, such as Nandprayag, where the Alakananda and Mandakini rivers meet, and the shrine of Tunganath- so vividly described, you can almost visualize it in your mind's eye!

The book has a chapter that is entirely devoted to hill-station ghosts. Even while describing the sinister Bhoot Aunty, a woman in white, who has come to be Mussoorie's resident ghost, Bond ends on a humorous note- he draws comparisons with Britain and Romania, where haunted homes and Dracula's castle attract numerous tourists, and suggests that Bhoot Aunty could also be promoted as a tourist attraction for Mussoorie, provided she stops sending vehicles off the hairpin bends that lead to the town!

In another chapter about hill towns, Bond tells us the story of how potatoes came to India. Captain Young was an officer in the British army in the early nineteenth century, between the Gurkha War and the Mutiny. Being an Irishman who was fond of his stew, he was disheartened to find no potatoes in the region and so, decided to grow them on his own. And that was how, the humble potato, hitherto unknown in Indian cooking, came to be a part of Indian cuisine. As Bond wittily writes:
For aloo-mutter and aloo-dhum,
Our heartfelt thanks to Captain Young!

The book sparkles with other anecdotes that are bound to make you smile. Ruskin Bond simply weaves magic into his writing- I couldn't describe it better! I found a part of the 'forward' (or rather, the epilogue) very inspiring and hence, thought of sharing it here- I have never been a fast walker, or a conqueror of mountain peaks, but I can plod along for miles. And that's what I've been doing all my life-plodding along, singing along, telling my tales in my own unhurried way. I have lived life at my own gentle pace, and if as a result I have failed to get to the top of the mountain (or of anything else), it doesn't matter, the long walk has brought its own sweet rewards; buttercups and butterflies along the way.

5 comments:

  1. Haven't read this book before, but now I want to, for the ghost stories at least. Love reading them, no matter how much they scare me. And I did not know about the potatoes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooh, do read this book then, Sumitra! It's kind of light reading, and some parts of it will definitely make you laugh! The ghost stories are a tad eerie, but then they are supposed to be ghost stories after all. Happy reading! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow.. Never tried Bond. (Ruskin Bond. Not his globe trotting, drunkard, womenizer, super spy brother.. :D). I will definitely check out some of his titles.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bond's writing is sans any intellectual pretensions, that's why he endears to many.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Harish, LOL. you should check this Bond's work definitely. Thanks for dropping by here :)

    @Purba, spot on! Simple, yet so profound- that's how Ruskin Bond writes. Thank you for stopping by here :)

    ReplyDelete

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Buttercups and Butterflies

I just finished reading Ruskin Bond's Roads to Mussoorie. The book, covering numerous anecdotes from the writer's life, in and around Mussoorie and other places in the Garhwal Himalayas, is wonderfully written, peppered with humor and seasoned with sarcasm. One cannot expect anything less from a writer like Ruskin Bond. Reading Roads to Mussoorie brought back a stream of old memories- as a fifth grader, I would spend the winter afternoons in Dehra Dun, reading Ruskin Bond on the lawns, under the mild warm winter sunshine. This book is a gem, classic vintage Bond.

It begins with a 'Backward' instead of a 'Foreword' and ends with a 'Forward' instead of an epilogue. Beginning with a backward, Bond reasons, is because the book looks at the past. And it ends with a 'Forward', because 'forward we must march, whatever our age or declining physical prowess. Life has always got something new to offer.'

What struck me the most, as I read the book, was Bond's humility. He writes about traveling to Delhi in shared taxis, how he prefers to live in a 'tiny bedroom-cum-study' and long treks in the Siwaliks and Garhwal Himalayas. He also describes sacred shrines in these mountain regions, such as Nandprayag, where the Alakananda and Mandakini rivers meet, and the shrine of Tunganath- so vividly described, you can almost visualize it in your mind's eye!

The book has a chapter that is entirely devoted to hill-station ghosts. Even while describing the sinister Bhoot Aunty, a woman in white, who has come to be Mussoorie's resident ghost, Bond ends on a humorous note- he draws comparisons with Britain and Romania, where haunted homes and Dracula's castle attract numerous tourists, and suggests that Bhoot Aunty could also be promoted as a tourist attraction for Mussoorie, provided she stops sending vehicles off the hairpin bends that lead to the town!

In another chapter about hill towns, Bond tells us the story of how potatoes came to India. Captain Young was an officer in the British army in the early nineteenth century, between the Gurkha War and the Mutiny. Being an Irishman who was fond of his stew, he was disheartened to find no potatoes in the region and so, decided to grow them on his own. And that was how, the humble potato, hitherto unknown in Indian cooking, came to be a part of Indian cuisine. As Bond wittily writes:
For aloo-mutter and aloo-dhum,
Our heartfelt thanks to Captain Young!

The book sparkles with other anecdotes that are bound to make you smile. Ruskin Bond simply weaves magic into his writing- I couldn't describe it better! I found a part of the 'forward' (or rather, the epilogue) very inspiring and hence, thought of sharing it here- I have never been a fast walker, or a conqueror of mountain peaks, but I can plod along for miles. And that's what I've been doing all my life-plodding along, singing along, telling my tales in my own unhurried way. I have lived life at my own gentle pace, and if as a result I have failed to get to the top of the mountain (or of anything else), it doesn't matter, the long walk has brought its own sweet rewards; buttercups and butterflies along the way.

5 comments:

  1. Haven't read this book before, but now I want to, for the ghost stories at least. Love reading them, no matter how much they scare me. And I did not know about the potatoes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooh, do read this book then, Sumitra! It's kind of light reading, and some parts of it will definitely make you laugh! The ghost stories are a tad eerie, but then they are supposed to be ghost stories after all. Happy reading! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow.. Never tried Bond. (Ruskin Bond. Not his globe trotting, drunkard, womenizer, super spy brother.. :D). I will definitely check out some of his titles.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bond's writing is sans any intellectual pretensions, that's why he endears to many.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Harish, LOL. you should check this Bond's work definitely. Thanks for dropping by here :)

    @Purba, spot on! Simple, yet so profound- that's how Ruskin Bond writes. Thank you for stopping by here :)

    ReplyDelete