A town called Dehra – Memories of Ruskin Bond’s Hometown

‘The past is always with us, for it feeds the present’ – Quote from the memoir

‘A town called Dehra’ is reminiscence of a sleepy town called Dehradun where author Ruskin Bond spent his boyhood as well as adolescent days. The characters in this memoir are Ruskin Bond’s relatives, his friends, love interest and the common masses residing in Dehra. From penning the memories of his father & granny to describing the scenic beauty of Dehra, Ruskin Bond has breathed life in the sleepy town called Dehra. What is so special about this book? The pages of this memoir are filled with the rare yester year photos of Ruskin Bond’s family (granny, siblings, friends and his mother). Sadly, there is no photograph of Ruskin Bond’s father in this memoir. In every book of Ruskin, his father has been mentioned in one or other short story. Even in this book, Ruskin reminiscences his long lost father in the first chapter.

As you gaze at these photos, you will feel a personal connect to them. The pre-independent Dehra was different from the present times. Filled with flower gardens, litchi trees, ponds, valleys, Dehra was a town of the ordinary people. Very few books mention about the struggles of common people and Ruskin Bond’s books highlights the pathos of these ordinary masses. His popular short story ‘Garlands on his brow’ depicts the pain of a forgotten wrestler called Hassan. A popular wrestler Hassan succumbs to the charm of a flirtatious Maharani and what follows later is his fading charisma as a wrestler in the arena. Hassan is forgotten, ignored by his admirers and this ignorance claims the life of this unsung wrestler of Dehra. Ruskin Bond has even penned his fondness for cinema halls of Dehra in this memoir. He recounts his best days of watching movies in Odeon theatre at Dehra. Through this memoir, Ruskin Bond takes you on a trip to Dehra where you will see Dilaram Bazaar, the famous market place where Rusty and his friends relished on road side snacks. If you have read ‘The room on the roof’ and ‘Rusty Runs away’, you will be familiar with Somi and Daljit. In this memoir, Ruskin Bond has personally shared the actual photos of his friends. What captivated me to read this book was the short story ‘The last Tonga ride’ which recounts Ruskin’s fondness for Tonga rides and his friendly bonding with the Tonga driver Bansi lal.

A single reading session is not enough to savor on the nostalgic treat offered by Ruskin Bond in this memoir. This memoir is especially been written for those people who have fondness for past. If you are away from your hometown, you are sure to break in tears of joy and sadness when you read the chapters. When I was reading the chapters in this memoir, it reminded me of own hometown, my uncle’s little room, cousin brothers who pampered me with their unconditional affection. Sadly the hometown is more of a ghost town as all my relatives have departed. What remained in my mind are the sweet memories that keep playing like a re-run of a TV serial.

No matter how far and high a bird may fly, it has to return to its nest. Same is about us. We can never forget our roots, upbringing, heritage and our home. ‘A town called Dehra’ is a classic memoir that one will keep relishing with years to come.

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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.

The night train at deoli and other stories – A nostalgic collection of short stories by Ruskin Bond

Book Title – The night train at deoli and other stories
Author – Ruskin Bond
Genre – Fiction/Children’s stories
Year of Publication – 1989

night-train-deoli

Life is not just achieving sales targets, shouldering family’s responsibilities and facing heart-breaking disappointments at every instance. It’s much more. But we are so much involved in the complexities of life that we forget have got only one life to live which we haven’t lived to the fullest. The night train at deoli and other stories is a beautiful collection of short stories by Ruskin Bond which is based in hilly areas of Dehra, Kasauli and Deoli. What really fascinated me about the book is the front cover image of a moving train. Though it is moving on the tracks, its speed is not hurrying, but slow and calm. Far from the madding crowd of the world, this night train at deoli takes you on a nostalgic journey of love.

Though I haven’t visited Mussoorie, Shimla, Dehradun, Kasauli or Deoli, but this book gave me scenic view of the places described in the short stories. The stories have been written with such a sheer sincerity and simplicity that you are ought to connect with it. Often in our life, we bond with people so much that this bonding lasts for a lifetime. This story is about bonding, unrequited love, affection, happiness and the nostalgic childhood moments we lived in the affectionate presence of our grandparents and friends. As I read these stories, it took me behind the timeline – my childhood. The childhood moments that I spent with my grandparents, uncle, school friends and my first school crush. I remember the moments I spent with my closed ones. Though my grandparents & uncle are no longer in this world, but the moments keep appearing like nostalgic visuals in my mind like a rerun of an old movie on TV. Though every short story has touch of simplicity, each story is sure to give you a nostalgic goose bump. Especially the short story ‘Night train at Deoli’ in this anthology will remind you of long lost love.

A sketch of author Ruskin Bond

A sketch of author Ruskin Bond

This anthology is about everyone – beggars, flower selling girl, an aging wrestler, writer, labour and every ordinary person. The simplicity in writing of Ruskin Bond is haunting, nostalgic and magical. This book is a relief for those readers who are stressed up by day to day struggles, heart breaking disappointments and financial worries. Just start reading the pages to discover the magic and escape into a different world where you will smell the aroma of hill side tea, travel in old age trains, visit the valley girls, ride a bicycle and encounter ghosts. When it comes to reading short stories, R.K.Narayan and Ruskin Bond have always been my favorite authors. If Malgudi days was about rural life in South India, ‘The night train at Deoli’ captured the beauty of hill side life. Once you start reading this book, you will definitely be eager to catch the first train to Deoli.

The Blue Umbrella – A Short Story By Ruskin Bond

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“Some books are so familiar, reading them is like being home again” – Louisa May Alcott

Very few books have that charisma that appeal to both kids and grownups and Ruskin Bond’s short story – The Blue Umbrella is one of them. The above quote holds a special place in my heart because we like to read books where we love to relate ourselves. This short story – The Blue Umbrella belongs to that category, a memorable story whose magic will keep on enchanting the readers for generations. Published in 1980, this short story is written by Ruskin Bond whose stories are more connected to hilly areas like Himachal Pradesh. The premise of this story is set in a small village of Himachal Pradesh where a poor little girl named Binya is smitten to a beautiful blue umbrella owned by a rich family. She trades off her leopard claw necklace for the captivating blue umbrella. From that moment, the blue umbrella becomes Binya’s rich possession.

Still from the comic book The Blue Umbrella

Still from the comic book The Blue Umbrella

Slowly the umbrella becomes a center of attention among the people living in the village. Everyone in the village craves to own that umbrella. Especially Ram Bharose, a shopkeeper has his eyes set on the blue umbrella. He even requests Binya to sell her blue umbrella to him for a fair amount. But Binya refuses to part away with her prized valuable. Realizing that his master Ram Bharose won’t be able to gain the umbrella, his servant Rajaram plans to steal the umbrella for his master. But while stealing the umbrella, Rajaram is caught red-handed by Binya’s brother. When everyone in the village comes to know about Ram Bharose’s greedy intention of owning Binya’s umbrella, Ram Bharose is neglected by everyone in village. Later Binya realizes that she shouldn’t flaunt her umbrella to make Ram Bharose sad. Finally Binya happily parts away with her blue umbrella by giving it to Ram Bharose. Now everyone in the village borrows the blue umbrella from Ram Bharose for time being. Though Binya is sad for parting with her umbrella, she is glad that she has brought a smile of happiness on someone’s face.This short story was made into a motion picture in 2005 and was adapted as a comic story in Amar Chitra Katha.

Author Ruskin Bond

Author Ruskin Bond

I recently read this short story of Ruskin Bond and was so mesmerized by its simplicity that I couldn’t wait to share this story on my blog. This story is about joy of giving and sharing happiness even in sad moments. Though my writings can’t match the magic of Ruskin Bond’s words, I have made a small attempt to spread this story to all my readers, young and old. I hope that once you have read this post, you will definitely buy the original copy of “Blue Umbrella” written by Ruskin Bond.

Happy Reading
Prashant Badiger