Ben-Hur – A classic novel by Lew Wallace

Long before Amarendra Bahubali and Bhallaldeva fought for kingdom of Mahishmati in Bahubali movie, there were two friends in Rome – Judah Ben-Hur and Messala who clashed due to the difference in ideals. One favored Rome while other was proud to be a Jew. For Messala, Romans were powerful and Jews inferior. Apart from these two protagonists, there is a third protagonist – Jesus of Nazareth in this classic novel. Set during the times of Jesus Christ, this story begins with meeting of Messala and Judah. During the friendly meeting, Judah discovers that Messala has become egoistic and considers Jews a weak race. Both the friends part away. A tragic fate lands Judah Ben Hur in imprisonment, accused of killing a Roman official. Messala not only imprisons Judah, but also seizes his property, home and belongings. Judah’s mother and sister are sent behind bars on order of Messala.

Poster of the 2016 movie – Ben-Hur

Judah Ben Hur is subjected to inhuman torture in galleys, rowing a gigantic slave ship. But good fortunes are on side of Judah. A pirate attack on the Roman ship gives an opportunity for Judah to escape from the Roman ship and seek refuge. With the help of his new allies – Simonides, Balthasar and Sheikh Ilderim, Judah competes against Messala in a chariot race. He not only defeats Messala but also leaves him penniless. After seeking his vengeance, Judah goes in search of his mother and sister. Here he meets the son of God – Jesus Christ and begins on a new mission to spread the greatness of son of God. Jesus heals the leprosy of Judah’s mother and sister and finally Judah finally reunites with his long lost family.

Here the story doesn’t end. Jesus is crucified and Ben-Hur is helpless to save his son of God from getting crucified. Ben Hur offers water to the bleeding Jesus and here he remembers it was the same saintly figure who had offered water to Judah when he was being taken to galleys. Judah Ben-Hur realizes that forgiveness is the biggest redemption of all as his lord didn’t even protest against the sufferings inflicted on him. Judah Ben Hur becomes the biggest messenger of Christ and lives his later life in helping the needy.

Lew Wallace’s novel ‘Ben Hur’ is set during biblical era and it is an enlightening experience reading about Jesus in this fictional epic book. Ben-Hur was adapted into motion pictures and TV movies countless times. It is the 1959 adaptation that swept the Oscar. Ben-Hur has everything that you desire in an epic movie – Betrayal, Redemption, love, roman battles and breathtaking chariot races. Once you have completed reading Ben-Hur, you will definitely curious to read Bible stories and the legend of Jesus Christ. I had read Ben-Hur in 2013 and found it an interesting epic. In the second time, I understood the spiritual philosophy and found the reading very enlightening. Along with Ben-Hur, I too realized that forgiveness is biggest redemption. Once you have completed reading Ben-Hur, you will also enjoy reading King Arthur and knights of round table, Ivanhoe, Three Musketeers and Man in the iron mask.

Advertisements

Looking for the rainbow: My years with Daddy – A nostalgic memoir by Ruskin Bond

Novel Title – Looking for the rainbow: My years with Daddy
Author – Ruskin Bond
Year of Publication – May 2017
Genre – Fiction
Publishers – Penguin

A perfect book to read on father’s day eve, Looking for the rainbow is an emotional memoir penned by Ruskin Bond in memory of his late father –Aubrey Bond. Often we take our parents for granted, especially our father. We always see the stern and strict side of our father but never care to see the tender emotions hidden behind a stern heart. Filled with nostalgic episodes, this memoir recounts the lovable moments Ruskin Bond spent with his father in Delhi and the later year he spent in Shimla boarding school. Little Ruskin was always deprived of affection since his childhood especially when his parents split up due to differences in their nature. Since his mother got married to a new person, Ruskin’s upbringing was the responsibility of his dad Aubrey Alexander who served in RAF (Royal Air Force).

The story is set during world war and the novel begins with little Ruskin arriving to Delhi after spending a troublesome year in a hostel. Here Ruskin not only bonds with his father closely, but also learns to live life independently. The years in Delhi spent with his father are beautifully described by Ruskin Bond in this memoir. They bond over stamp collection, movies, books, travelling and food. Unfortunately the joyful days are short lived and Ruskin’s father gets sick due to Malaria. Since the world war is in full swing, Aubrey Bond decides to send Ruskin to a good boarding school in Shimla. Ruskin spends a good year in this boarding and blends well with the ambience of the school. Aubrey visits Shimla to spend a day with little Ruskin and they both plan to shift England once the war is over.

Sadly one day, Ruskin receives shattering news that his father has expired. The news is too painful to bear for this little child who is left no one to care about him. This part in the novel is very heart breaking for both the writer as well as reader. When you read that last emotional chapter you will feel how Ruskin Bond had gone through that phase when he lost his father. Ruskin had no one in this world except his father. The most tragic part in this book is the chapter where all his father’s belongings – stamps, letters are misplaced by boarding’s principal and Ruskin is left with only one letter of his dear father. The book ends with Ruskin moving back to stay back with his mother and stepdad.

The beautiful illustrations compliment the nostalgia

I would like to especially accolade illustrator Mihir Joglekar to bring out the memories alive by creating eye catching black and white illustrations which compliments the nostalgic mood. The nostalgic episodes in this book will remind you of Rusty series. The stories written on Rusty are the reflections of Ruskin Bond’s childhood moments. What a great father Aubrey Bond was!!

After reading this memoir, your eyes are sure to soak in tears for the great sacrifices that your parents made to bring you up. This memoir by Ruskin Bond is really a priceless gem that you will treasure forever.

Yeh Dil Maange More – The victory signal of Captain Vikram Batra

‘Every army begins with one man’ – lines from movie ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

A glimpse at the courageous feats of Captain Vikram Batra

In late 80’s and 90’s, G.I.J.O.E action figures were craze in the toy stores. Based on the cartoon TV show on Doordarshan, it captured the imagination of little kids like me. I used to play with the action figures and create my own war stories which were quite closer to war movies like ‘Saving Private Ryan’. From that moment I always aspired to become a soldier someday. Somewhere in Palampur, a kid had already decided to dedicate his life to armed forces. This kid was the great Kargil braveheart Captain Vikram Batra who took a bullet on his heart while defending Kargil from invaders.

‘Hamare desh mein army man ko Superman kehte hain’

The TV serial – Paramvir Chakra on Doordarshan was an inspiration for the little Vikram. Instead of opting for merchant Navy, he decided to join armed forces. Despite suffering from high fever, Captain Vikram Batra scaled high peaks even in disastrous weather conditions, motivating his soldiers at every instance.
The intrusion of Pakistani army in Kargil sector was an alarming moment for Indian army. All the official leaves of army officers were cancelled. The year 1999 was a difficult time for every mother who had her son posted on Kargil. Kargil war was the first national event that got media coverage and was reported on news channels by several reporters including Barkha Dutt. Brave officers like Vijayant Thapar and Padmapani Acharya were killed in the horrific war. Reporter Barkha Dutt had personally interviewed Captain Vikram Batra and his patriotism had already won the hearts of several Indians. After capturing Point 5140, Vikram Batra became an inspiring icon for youngsters. His victory cry ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ became a rage among masses. Vikram had plans to marry his fiancée Dimple once the war was over. Unfortunately the point 4875 claimed the life of Captain Vikram Batra before he could fulfill his dreams. While capturing this point, Vikram was shot down by an enemy’s sniper. Though Vikram died defending Kargil, he saved the life of one of his fellow soldier – Captain Naveen Nagappa. In an interview retired captain Naveen Nagappa recounted the war events and how bravely Vikram rescued his life by dragging Naveen out of the bunker. Ironically Captain Vikram Batra collapsed to the enemy’s bullet within an hour after saving Naveen.
Fondly called as ‘Shershah’ Vikram’s bravery had sent shivers of fears among the enemies.

Amar Chitra Katha published Param Vir Chakra comics based on Indian soldiers

‘Either I will come after hoisting the tricolor flag in Kargil or return wrapped in tricolor flag but I will return for sure – words spoken by Captain Vikram Batra

It will be 18 years this 2017 when the brave boys went to war in Kargil in 1999. Some returned alive while some returned wrapped in tricolor. They did return for sure, giving a befitting reply to the enemies and winning the Kargil war.

It is such a sad irony that biopics have been made on Sachin Tendulkar, M.S.Dhoni but no one has cared to make a biopic in memory of Captain Batra. J.P. Dutta’s 2003 war movie – LOC: Kargil is the only movie that immortalized the courageous story of Vikram Batra. The role of Captain Vikram Batra was brilliantly portrayed by actor Abhishek Bachchan.

Now Palampur is not just the hometown of Vikram Batra, it has become a historical destination where brave heroes like Major Somnath Sharma and Captain Vikram Batra were born.

Today the mountains at Kargil still echo with the victory cry of Captain Vikram Batra – ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’.

Rusty Runs Away – A nostalgic novella by Ruskin Bond

Nestled in the vicinity of Dehra’s snow mountains is the residence of Rusty, a melancholic dreamer who aspires to live life on his own terms. Through Rusty, Author Ruskin Bond has recounted his own boyhood days in Dehra, Shimla and Mussoorie. ‘Rusty Runs away’ is story of every kid who is deprived of parental love and craves for a heartfelt tenderness. The incidents happening in the memoir – Rusty Runs Away will tug your heart and compel to go back to your boyhood days. Have you every bunked school to visit the cities, relish on street side food and watch cinema? This is one childhood fantasy every kid has craved to and fulfilled by playing rookie. I have done it countless times and got a good thrashing from my parents.

There is a ‘Rusty’ hidden in every person who wants to break free from his daily chores and hectic responsibilities. Today we are so entrapped in web of fake desires, expectations that we have stopped living the real life we aspired for. We are no less than a money earning robot. The nostalgic episodes in this book will encourage you to pursue your dreams even in the toughest times. The most interesting episode in the novel is the escape of Rusty and his friend Daljit from their boarding school – Arundel. This escape adventure takes them on interesting locations till they finally reach the sea port only to face delay. Read this to personally experience the journey that is a roller coaster ride of happiness, joy, exploration and imagination.

The other story in this memoir is the friendship between Rusty and Omar which blossoms in Shimla. Set during the backdrop of pre-independence Rusty and Omar strike a bond and enjoy the best moments of friendship – playing hockey, discovering tunnels and sharing their emotions. Like Rusty, even Omar is an orphan. The heart breaking partition tears apart their partnership and Omar has to leave India. After 18 years, Rusty receives the news that Omar has died in air crash during the Indo-Pak War of 1972. This is one of my favorite chapters in this novel. If you have disconnected from your long lost colleague then you will definitely relate to this story of Rusty and Omar.

The most nostalgic episode in this novel is the friendship of Rusty with Somi, Ranbir and Suri who help him to break free from the cage of melancholia and enjoy the life to the fullest. Rusty not only enjoys food on road side stalls, but also discovers the color of happiness by celebrating Holi with his friends. This friendship gives Rusty the courage to rebel against his tyrant guardian. Rusty not only rebels, but also thrashes his guardian black and blue, putting an end to the strict tyranny imposed on him.

‘Rusty Runs Away’ is celebration of friendship, togetherness, love, freedom and nostalgia. This memoir is one of the best works of Ruskin Bond which will touch your heart’s string. The scenic descriptions, travelogues will inspire you to take a trip to your favorite destination. As a social human being, we are so concerned about people that we suppress the ‘real person’ in us. We care about other’s opinions but never heed to the inner voice of our conscious. I hope that after reading this book – Rusty Runs Away, you will definitely look out for your inner self.

Bonding with Ruskin

Today when I gaze at the blue sky, I notice emptiness in it. There are no longer any kites soaring high to touch the clouds. Even the pond is deprived of paper boats that once floated in the monsoon water. Sky scrapers, competitive jobs, high speed cars, industrial complexes and electronic accessories have taken a toll on life. In the midst of these uncertainties, author Ruskin Bond’s books still give a hope that life hasn’t lost its charm. The dark clouds of sorrow can never overshadow a hopeful sun in the sky. I withdrew myself from the 9 to 7 job that offered nothing but resentment, disappointment and disheartening events. I had totally lost my hope in this heartless city until a book came as a blessing in my life. It was an anthology of nostalgic stories and travelogues, giving me a glimpse of mountain life.

‘Night train at deoli and other stories’ by Ruskin Bond opened the window of happiness in my life which was locked due to my pessimistic attitude. I have realized that I always suppressed my inner self (my conscience) and gave more importance to friends, colleagues and mean people. The childhood innocence within me was lost somewhere and I was left alone in the crowd. Ruskin Bond’s books helped me to reconnect with my inner self. Life has never been the same after soaking in nostalgia offered by this short collection of Ruskin Bond.

‘Room on the roof’ was the first published book by Ruskin Bond

‘When the war is over, a butterfly will still be beautiful’ – excerpt from Ruskin Bond memoir ‘Rusty Runs away’

Through his novellas, short story collections, travelogues, Ruskin Bond gives you a glimpse of his memoirs in Landour, Shimla, Dehra, Mussoorie and Shamli. Be it a spooky anthology, love stories or nostalgic episodes, Ruskin Bond brings you closer to Mother Nature. Happiness is not drinking a creamy coffee in Café Coffee day, but relishing on a small tea stall in a hill station. The social networks have disconnected us from our real friends who helped us in thick and thin times.

Through his memoirs – Rusty series (Rusty is alter ego of Ruskin Bond), Bond takes readers a trip down the memory lane where he recounts the days he spent with his friends, grandparents, uncle and his late father. Though the stories may sound simple, but there is a strong philosophy hidden in every story. Wish I had a time machine so that I could bring back the moments which are now preserved in form of memories. I want to start life on a new note where I can live the life to the fullest, enjoying a million years in a 24 hours day.

When you read Ruskin Bond Books, you get a feel that time has slowed down and you have lived 25 hours in a day, relishing every moment of the story that is connected to you. Such is the power of Ruskin Bond’s writings.

After Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Ruskin Bond is one such author whose writings has a strong sense of nostalgia. It’s time for me to catch a train to mountains and connect with serenity. If you value your happy old times, do read books by Ruskin Bond. They are really worth your time.