Happy 90th Birthday, Ruskin Bond: NRIs share how the renowned author has influenced their lives



“Homely sounds, though we don’t often think about them, are the ones we miss most when they have gone. A kettle on the boil. A door that creaks on its hinges. Old sofa springs. Familiar voices lighting up the dark.”

Breezing through Ruskin Bond’s short essay ‘Life’s Sweet Sounds’, included in the 2013 story collection ‘A Garland of Memories’, I at once picture a gentler pace of life where the familiar brings comfort and joy; a kaleidoscope of small details that are building-blocks, in a way, of the miniscule worlds we inhabit and love, in an infinite universe.

In ‘Life’s Sweet Sounds’, Bond shares how one of his favourite sounds is “gentle rain on a tin roof” – words that bring back memories of idyllic college life, and afternoons spent in a cosy hostel room day-dreaming over a cup of tea, amidst the romance of the monsoon that danced in huge grey swirls outside.

The prolific wordsmith, who has charmed generations of readers in India and beyond for over seven decades with his short story collections, essays, poems, novels and memoirs, turns 90 today.

Few writers evoke the kind of haunting nostalgia that Bond does, at times even for a place and time one has never experienced personally.

A great many of Bond’s stories revolve around Dehradun, where he spent a memorable part of his childhood, as well as the hill station of Mussoorie. Absorbed in his books, I would often find myself traversing lofty terrains, admiring sights and sounds that were as curious as they were beautiful, finding and loving characters, animals, trees and even forces of nature that Bond held close to his heart.

Bond, who was born in Kasauli in 1934, moved permanently to Mussoorie in the 1960s and now resides in a cosy home in Landour, from where he continues to write, adding to a rich literary legacy that is India’s pride and joy. The writer, who was recently awarded the Sahitya Akademi fellowship – the Indian literary organization’s highest honour, will reportedly release three new books on his 90th birthday: A literary memoir, ‘The Hill Of Enchantment: The Story of my Life as a Writer’ (Aleph), How To Be Happy (HarperCollins) and Hold On To Your Dreams (Puffin).

Bond’s writings have never gone out of print and continue to draw new readers; he maintains an enduring relationship with his fans, who stay updated on his life and work through his Instagram handle.

NRI fans include Sydney Atkins, a Dubai-based educator who hails from Kolkata and counts Bond among his favourite authors. He says, “Reading Ruskin Bond’s stories as a child sparked a deep interest in nature and the simple joys of life. His vivid descriptions and relatable characters taught me to find beauty in the mundane and inspired me to view life through a lens of empathy, imagination and curiosity. As an adult, these stories continue to influence my world view, encouraging me to appreciate the beauty in everyday life and remain open-hearted in how I experience life as an individual and as a member of the community.”

Ritesh Joseph, a Dubai-based HR professional who grew up in Lucknow, finds Bond very inspiring.

“I was introduced to Ruskin Bond’s stories during my school days in Lucknow. They were easy to read and relatable as many of them are set in the hills, where I spent almost all of my childhood summers. This helped me visualise his stories better. His plot lines were simple and easy to grasp. All these things made him one of my favourite writers. My essay writing skills are inspired by him.”

He was fortunate enough to meet Bond in person back in 2010.

“My family and I were visiting our mother’s aunt, Saroj, in Landour, Mussoorie. One of my personal agendas was to meet Ruskin Bond at the Cambridge Book Depot, which I had read about in one of his books. What was surprising to me was the fact that my mother’s aunt happened to have known him for a long time as they lived in the same neighbourhood. She arranged to send us to Cambridge Book Depot and had also sent some homemade cookies for him (which he apparently loved). My sister, cousin and I went to meet him and I can never forget the first glimpse I had of him, sitting in the book shop, signing autographs for fans and talking to them.

“We had the privilege of skipping the queue as he was made aware of the fact that Saroj’s grandchildren had come with her cookies to meet him. It was my first time meeting a famous person. Nervous but also overjoyed, I recall greeting him with ‘Hello Mr Buskin Rond’…to which he responded ‘you really read my books well’ and started to laugh. He was kind and courteous, enquiring about my background and which school I studied in. When he asked me which of his stories/books were my favourites, I instantly said ‘The Night Train at Deoli’… and he signed that book for me! All in all, this brief encounter with that renowned writer, who I’ve always admired, was amazing!”

We hope Bond, a living legend, will continue to enthrall us with his tales for years to come. Happy Birthday, Ruskin Bond!  – Enid Parker is a writer based in Dubai.



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