Whispers in the dark – A book of spooks by Ruskin Bond

What would you do if you see a ghostly figure sleeping besides your bed? Will your sweat out with fear or scream out? In such unpredictable paranormal experiences, the faint hearted can’t even scream. From ‘The Excorcist’ to the recent scary flick – The Conjuring & Annabelle, fear has taken new forms in movies. ‘Whispers in the dark’ is a fresh new compilation of spooky stories that you will change your perception towards the theory of paranormal activities. After ‘Face in the dark and other hauntings’, Ruskin Bond has penned down new spooky stories that will give you scary goosebumps.

The short stories in this spooky collection have supernatural and scary settings, but they are not mind disturbing. Most of Ruskin Bond’s stories have touch of nostalgia and romance to it. ‘The Wilson’s Bridge’ and ‘Listen to the wind’ have the theme of romance in this spooky collection. Among all the short stories, ‘A dreadful gurgle’ is one of my favorites. In this story, the author encounters a ghostly figure sleeping besides his bed. ‘A face in the dark’, ‘The late night show’, ‘Susanna’s seven husbands’, ‘A traveller’s tale’, ‘The overcoat’ and ‘The Mango tope’ are really thrilling with a shocking twist in the end. The 35 stories in this spooky collection are unique from one another. Is there any afterlife element existing in this world? Do our departed loved ones really connect with us? These queries about supernatural elements are a subject of discussion. In one of his short stories, Ruskin Bond recounts his experience of seeing the apparition of his late father – Aubrey Bond.

Ruskin Bond has also penned ‘A face in the dark and other hauntings’ a spooky collection of ghost stories

If you love spooky stories, do check out this anthology of supernatural theme by Ruskin Bond. I bet after reading this stories, you will definitely check your bed sheet before sleeping. Who knows how and when a ghost may sneak in your bed.

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In search of a muse

‘Fill the paper with breathings of your heart’ – Quote

Without a muse, an artist is nothing. Neither he can paint a picture on a canvas nor can he pour words on his paper. I never believed in theories of muse until I faced the creative blockage in my mind known as writer’s block. Writer’s block is a type of creative blockage that paralyzes our creativity. Neither coffee nor music helped me to restore back my writing prowess. While gazing through some images on Pinterest, I happened to see the pic of actress Anne Hathaway from Hollywood movie – Becoming Jane. Actress Anne Hathaway played the role of author Jane Austen in the movie. The picture showed Anne holding a pen and paper. The picture had a positive impact on my mind. It was like a writing prompt for me. I felt like my mind was undergoing a rebooting phase. I immediately went to my writing table and starting tapping my hands on my keyboard. Within 2 hours I wrote an article and published it on WordPress blogging platform. It was sense of accomplishment for me. My mind was oozing with creativity. Was the creative blockage an excuse to stay away from writing or was I really facing writers’ block? Often times, we are so much enthusiastic to pen down our thoughts that we end up writing nothing. Ideas are like uninvited guests. They arrive anytime – while catching a bus, talking to a friend or while having a bath. Only the mind needs to be alert to welcome your creative guests.

Anna hathaway portrayed Jane Austen in 2007 movie – Becoming jane. She is also my current muse for this story

Do muses play a significant role in arousing ideas? Yes!! From William Shakespeare, Raja Ravi Verma, Leonardo Da Vinci to Ernest Hemingway, Rabindranath Tagore, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, John Keats and Ruskin Bond, every creative genius had a muse to keep them inspired. It is been said that a young woman named Sugandha Bai was the muse of painter Raja Ravi Verma. Raja Ravi Verma used her as his model for several of his paintings. Whether Sugandha Bai was a real life person or a fictional character from Ranjit Desai’s biography on Raja Ravi Verma, this speculation has always been a subject of debate.

In Hollywood movie – Shakespeare in Love, William Shakespeare was shown having a muse who inspired him to write Romeo and Juliet. Though the movie was a fictional take on Shakespeare, there is no denying that creative people always in search of muse.

Several of John Keats’ poems were dedicated to his sweet heart Fanny Brawne. The 2007 biopic – Becoming Jane was based on life of Jane Austen and her short lived romance with Thomas Lefroy. Though the characters of Jane Austen were happy married in her books, Jane Austen was deprived of true love and wedding. She remained alone all her life. The character Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice was based on her real life love – Thomas Lefroy. Lefroy was muse of Austen. Love is greatest inspiration of all and artists always find creativity in their muses. Ruskin Bond’s greatest inspiration was a young married woman with whom he had a short lived crush. The young married woman was mentioned in the Ruskin Bond’s debut book – The Room on the roof. Even Tagore’s novels and poems were dedicated to his sister-in-law Kadambari Devi who inspired him to write.

Even the experiences in our life are muse for us. Playwright J.M.Barrie created the popular character ‘Peter Pan’ based on his personal experiences. The Hollywood movie – Finding Neverland was based on playwright J.M.Barrie and the experiences that inspired him to write Peter Pan. Really!! Without a muse, an artist is incomplete.

Finding Neverland is based on playwright J.M.Barrie

Hadn’t I seen the pic of Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen, I wouldn’t have been bursting with creativity. All thanks to actress Anne Hathaway for becoming my muse to write this article. It is all God’s plan to drop ideas in our mind. He creates muses, ideas and inspirations. Oh God!! Please keep me blessed with beautiful muses.

Jane Austen’s greatest inspiration was her love. The role of Jane Austen was played by Anne hathaway

As for now, this article on muse is ready. It’s time for my muse Anne Hathaway to take leave. Now my hunt for next muse is on…..Who will be my next muse? Only time and my upcoming stories will tell.

Do you believe in this concept called muse? Do drop your comments. Let me know who inspired you to create your masterpiece.

The unforgettable characters from Ruskin Bond’s books

Only few authors have the knack to create memorable characters in a full length novella or an unforgettable short story. Mark Twain, R.K.Narayan and Ruskin Bond belong to that league. Ruskin Bond’s short stories have a flavor of nostalgia that lingers in heart and mind of readers. The characters in the Bond’s short stories are not heroic soldiers, undercover cops, beautiful belle or damsels in distress.

They are common masses we see in day today life. There is extraordinariness in these ordinary characters created by Bond. These unforgettable characters from Ruskin’s short stories will tug your heart when you read about their struggle. Let’s see what is so special about these unforgettable characters created by Ruskin Bond.

1) Hassan the wrestler –

‘Fame has but a fleeting hold
On the reins in our fast paced society
So many of our yesterday’s heroes crumble’

Among all the short stories, ‘The Garlands on his brow’ is my favorite short story. Here Ruskin Bond brings you closer to the pain of a forgotten wrestler from Dehra. In this short story Bond reminiscences an ageing wrestler Hassan who once a hero and a role model for the Dehra people. His brawns and brain had knocked down many strong wrestlers to the floor. During his school days, little Ruskin used to visit the akharas (wrestling grounds) to see the dare devilry wrestling matches of his idol Hassan. Hassan’s masculinity attracts several young women including a Maharani. The Maharani takes a fascination for Hassan and recruits him as her personal bodyguard. A momentary attraction towards a woman spells doom for Hassan. After the death of Maharani, Hassan is reduced to a forgotten hero who makes his ends meet by giving wrestling lessons to young kids. In the climax, the old wrestler is found dead on the streets of Dehra. It is so disheartening that a yester year hero is reduced to poverty and anonymity in the fast paced world. This short story reminded me of Yash Raj Films’ movie – Sultan which revolves around a wrestler who bounces back after losing his glory. I personally feel that this short story should be made into a TV serial or a full length movie featuring Salman Khan as the ageing wrestler Hassan. Really nothing lasts forever in the world, not even the success and glamour.

2) The girl on the train – In the short story ‘The Eyes have it’, Ruskin Bond introduces us to two strangers on the train. The blind narrator in this story meets a girl who has boarded the train to go Saharanpur. Here the narrator strikes a joyful conversation with the lonely girl to give her company till her destination arrives. He describes about the beauty of Dehradun to her. The conversation breaks the ice between them and they form a good bond. Later the girl bids farewell to the narrator. Here the narrator is joined again by a new passenger. In the climax the narrator discovers that the young girl on the train was actually blind. What a surprising climax!! We are so blinded by our preconceptions that we fail to observe people and surroundings around us. We see the world according to our nature. Ironically the world is very different from our observation and thinking. The blind strangers reminded me of Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam from movie Kaabil. They played the roles of a blind couple in the movie. This short story should be adapted for a TV episode featuring Yami and Hrithik as the blind passengers on the train.

3) The Kite maker – The skies are deprived of kites flying high to touch the clouds. Today skyscrapers, buildings, Shopping malls and Industrial complexes have reduced the space for outdoor games. Today there are neither the kids flying the kites nor there is any ample space for kite flying activities. In the short story ‘The Kitemaker’, we sympathize with the melancholy of a forgotten kite maker. Mehmood, a popular kite maker of pre-independence era recounts his moments of glory when he was praised and respected by the rich Nawab and the masses of his times. He reminiscences creating a giant sized Kite for the Nawab and the thrill of launching the kite in the sky. With changing times and advent of technology, there is no time left for trivial things like kite. People have no time left for activities like kite flying.
In the end, Mehmood the kite maker breathes his last, remembering the best years of his lives and his fondness for Kite making.

4) The girl at Deoli station – ‘The night train at Deoli’ is counted as one of the best short stories written by Ruskin Bond. This short story introduced me to the nostalgic world of Ruskin Bond. Ruskin Bond has fondness for train traveling and here too the backdrop of the story is a railway station. The Deoli station is not like the crowded stations of Mumbai. It is a very melancholic station where you won’t find any crowd. Except for a station master office and a tea stall, the station doesn’t have any passengers hanging around the place. The strange thing about the Deoli station is that the trains passing through the station halt only for 10 minutes. There is neither any passenger boarding or getting down to this station. The author connects with a basket selling girl on the station. He is smitten to her innocence in the very first glance. He not only buys baskets from her, but also promises to meet her again. Ironically when he returns to meet her again at Deoli, the girl is nowhere in the sight. He enquires with the station master and tea stall owner but fails to know about her whereabouts. Whenever the train passes towards Deoli station, the author has a faint hope to bond back with the basket selling girl.

5) Ruskin Bond’s father ‘Aubrey Bond’ – Ruskin Bond has mentioned about his father ‘Aubrey Bond’ in many of his short stories including the full length novel – Looking for the rainbow: My years with Daddy. For Ruskin Bond, his father was not just a parent, but also a companion, a compassionate friend who cared for his child till the last breath of his life. When I read about Ruskin Bond’s father in the short stories and full length memoir, I had a curiosity to see the photograph of Aubrey Bond. Sadly, there is no photograph of Aubrey Bond published on web. After the divorce of Ruskin Bond’s parents, little Ruskin’s responsibility of upbringing was taken by his dad. An RAF officer by profession, Aubrey Bond took his child under his care.

A snapshot from Ruskin Bond’s memoir – Looking for the rainbow

In Delhi, little Ruskin spent the best years of his life with his father – collecting stamps, relishing on ice creams, watching cinemas and visiting historical sites. This happiness was short lived for little Ruskin. The malarial attack and jaundice took a toll on his father’s health and Ruskin was deprived of fatherly love during his childhood. In one of the short stories ‘The Vision’ Ruskin meets the ghostly form of his father who guides him even in his darkest hours. In an interview Ruskin Bond had expressed a wish that actor Shahid Kapoor resembled a bit like him and should definitely portray Ruskin in his official biopic. Hope someday if a movie is made on Ruskin Bond’s book – Looking for the rainbow I personally feel that Hollywood actors – James Mardsen, Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumbercatch should play the role of Ruskin Bond’s father.

The girl Binya was the popular fictional character from Ruskin Bond’s short story – The Blue Umbrella

6) Rusty – Rusty is the alter-ego of Ruskin Bond, an imaginary boy sprung from the imagination of the writer. The incidents happening in the life of Rusty are based on childhood days of Ruskin Bond. ‘Room on the roof’ was the debut novel of Ruskin Bond when he was just 17 years old. Through ‘Room on the roof’, Rusty became a popular fictional character and was read and adored by readers worldwide. The Rusty series was highly popular among the young readers. Surprisingly Rusty was more popular before Harry Potter books hit the stores. Through Rusty, Ruskin Bond captured the imagination of young boys.

Room on the roof is the first book in Rusty Series

Apart from these characters, Ruskin created several unforgettable characters like Uncle Ken, Binya, Sita, Madhu, Daljit, Somi and Ranbir. Some fictional characters were based on his real life friends and some were created out of imagination. Nevertheless, these characters have succeeded to find a place in my heart. I am hoping to include some of other Ruskin Bond’s characters in my upcoming article very soon.

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.

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.

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.

A face in the dark and other hauntings – An anthology of ghost stories by Ruskin Bond

‘I see dead people’ – lines from Hollywood movie ‘Sixth Sense’

Did you ever experience paranormal visions of seeing departed people? Have you witnessed seeing your long lost loved ones in your dreams? Dreams are route to connect with departed people. Whether ghosts, spirits or apparitions really exist is a matter of debate. Ruskin Bond’s anthology of short story on ghosts in this book is not just scary, but also has a nostalgic and romantic touch to it.

‘That night there was a thunderstorm. My bedroom window kept banging in the wind. I got up to close it and as I looked out, there was a flash of lightning and I saw that frail body again, swinging from the oak tree’ – excerpt from short story Topaz from this anthology

The ghosts in Ruskin Bond’s stories are frightening, but not disturbing. The stories are memorable, hilarious and sometimes heart breaking. Especially the short story – A face in the dark is the first chapter in this anthology recounts the story of an English teacher witnessing paranormal encounter with a faceless ghost. This story has been beautifully crafted with a touch of humour that will make you read these stories again and again. Some stories in Ruskin Bond’s collections are really spooky – especially the stories ‘The Monkeys’ and ‘The Topaz’. Ruskin Bond has written one ghost story in this collection which is dedicated to his father.

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy’
– lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet

A rare photograph of Ruskin Bond with his mother during his childhood

In this nostalgic chapter, Ruskin Bond recounts the supernatural event of seeing his dead father coming back to meet him. The ghostly form of his dead father not only guides him, but also protects him at several instances. Ruskin Bond has included this nostalgic episode in several of his short story collection. The 1998 Hollywood movie – Jack Frost is also based on such a premise where a dead father returns as a snowman to reunite with his little son and fulfill the wishes of his child and wife. The role of the ghost father was played by Michael Keaton in this family movie. Even the 90’s movie – The Ghost had a similar plot where a dead man returns as a ghost to establish contact with his soulmate and make her aware of upcoming dangers. The Kevin Costner Starrer movie – Dragon Fly was more gripping on topic of afterlife and how a deceased wife tries to contact with her husband through paranormal signals.

Dreams are also a way to connect with your long lost loved ones. In my dreams, I had nostalgic experience of seeing my long lost maternal uncle who is no more with me. Whenever I was sad or depressed, I always saw my uncle in my dream, assuring that everything will be all right. The bond that I shared with my uncle in my childhood days is really memorable, especially accompanying him to buy comic books. I miss his presence really in these difficult times. Ruskin Bond also has also written a short story, describing his experience, meeting a long lost friend who is happened to be dead years back.

All the 28 ghost stories in this anthology are unique. Whether it is connecting with ghost of Rudyard Kipling or meeting the mysterious Madam Sussanna who has killed all her seven husbands under mysterious circumstances, the stories gives you a glimpse at the supernatural elements in a very entertaining way. The most entertaining chapter in this anthology was the surprise entry of Detective Sherlock Holmes in the story ‘The Daffodil Case’. In this story, Sherlock Holmes teams up with Ruskin Bond to solve a case involving stealing of Daffodil flowers. The short story ‘Something in the water’ and ‘Night in the millennium’ are really creepy.

The ghostly settings in these stories send scary goosebumps, giving a feel of ghostly presence around you. The recently released Bollywood movie – Phillauri draws inspiration from a spooky story ‘The Topaz’ in this anthology. Science may have denied the supernatural existence, but paranormal activities do keep happening in some corners of the world. If you love reading ghost stories, this anthology by Ruskin Bond is definitely a treat.

Phillauri – A ghost bride in waiting

‘I see dead people’ is one of the cheesiest lines written by Hollywood writers for M.Night.Shyamalan’s 1998 movie – The Sixth sense. Do ghosts really exist? I won’t go further deep in theory about supernatural elements. Here Shashi Phillauri has decided to become my ghostly muse to free me from my writer’s block. She wanted to see her story featured in my upcoming article. Here I am now writing my exclusive article on Phillauri. After all, I can’t mess with a ghost, especially when the ghost is a hardcore Punjabi Kudi. Here you go baby!!

Kanan, a Canada based Punjabi Munda (played by Suraj Sharma the boy from Life of Pi) returns to his hometown to get hitched to his longtime girlfriend Anu. It is a fairy tale wedding going to happen for the couple. But Kanan can’t marry his sweet heart as he is ‘Manglik’ (according to horoscope a Manglik’s marriage is never prosperous). The only remedy for this astrological hurdle is to get the groom married to a tree. After much insistence, Kanan performs the ritual of getting married to a tree. The real trouble begins for Kanan when he realizes that unknowingly he is married off to a ghost who had made the tree her abode. The ghostly encounter of Kanan with the apparition makes him go crazy.

According to rituals, the tree is chopped off once the Manglik’s marriage is done with the tree. Since the tree is chopped off, the ghost loses her abode and now chases Kanan. The bride ghost ‘Shashi’ starts narrating her story to Kanan and the story moves to pre-independent era in 1919. The movie swings between two timelines – 1919 and 2017. Shashi, a lovely poet from a village called ‘Phillaur’ in Punjab publishes her poem under a pen name which is famous among the readers. (Shashi is Jane Austen of Punjab in this movie) 

Coincidentally, Rooplal a street singer with a heart of Casanova sings the lyrics and poems penned by Shashi little realizing that she is the same girl he has fallen in love with. When he discovers her identity, he promises to return back on Baisakhi festival when he has enough money to get married to her. But destiny has different plans for Shashi. Rooplal never returns. In a fit of depression, Shashi commits suicide by hanging from a tree. Her untimely death turns her into a ghostly bride in waiting (This bride has nothing to do with Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride). Now Shashi can’t get freed from the mortal world. Her quest for long lost love is unfulfilled. Will Shashi find her long lost love? Will Kanan help Shashi to find her long lost love? All these queries will be answered in the 2017 movie – Phillauri. Shashi had strictly ordered me to not write any spoilers about her story.

What fascinated me to watch ‘Phillauri’ was Anushka Sharma. Secondly the premise of story is set in Punjab. My fondness for Punjabi culture, food and beautiful gals was second reason why I wanted to watch it. In terms of storytelling, ‘Phillauri’ is a refreshing change from stereotyped Bollywood rom-coms. The story takes time to grow. It is a novel plot brought on screen. For those who love masala rom-coms won’t sit through the movie. The movie has a poetic feel and is slow paced. The slow-paced narration is the beauty of this story and here the viewer bonds with the tender love story of Shashi and Rooplal.

The look and feel of this movie is timeless. The visual presentation of the 1919 Punjab is breath taking. If you love your roots, you will connect with the story line. The story of this movie is connected with an actual historical incident happened in 1919 on eve of Baisakhi. The infamous incident changes the lives of both Shashi and Rooplal. After so much warning given by my ghostly muse Shashi, I am giving spoilers for this story. (She will literally kill me after reading this review). ‘Phillauri’ has drawn inspirations from several movies (Lovely Bones, If I stay, Invisible, Corpse Bride etc and even a Ruskin Bond short story). Actress Anushka Sharma has donned the hat of producer for her second production venture and hasn’t left any stone unturned to make Phillauri a delightful watch. Apart from Anushka Sharma, Suraj Sharma and Diljit Singh Dosanjh make their presence felt in their sincere performances. After Udta Punjab, Diljit is the new emerging talent in Bollywood. What attracted me in this movie was Mehreen Pirzada, the new fresh talent who shines in her first movie. She plays Anu, the love interest of Suraj Sharma.

Phillauri is a delightful and visually appealing rom-com that is winning the hearts of audience worldwide. This movie is far more entertaining than Paheli and Bhootnath.

If you love watching entertaining ghost movies, then watch the 1992 movie – Chamatkar and 1995 Hollywood movie – Casper. Apart from this recommendations, do watch Demi Moore’s movie – The Ghost which was a cult movie in 90’s.

I want to sincerely thank my ghostly muse Shashi for becoming my inspiration and guide to pen down this story. Inspiration comes in all forms even if it is ghostly. For now, I am freed from my writer’s block. I guess it is time for Shashi to return back to heaven. Hope I have justified her story and I strongly request her to share this review among her ghostly circles. I guess Mark Zuckerberg must have developed a social networking site for ghosts. No wonder it may be called ‘GhostBook’.

Do watch ‘Phillauri’ at theatres near you. You will fall in love with Shashi, the lovely ghost.

Far from the heartless city

‘Home is where the heart is’ – Quote

‘Koi lauta de mere beetey hue din’ is one of the most memorable songs sung by versatile singer Kishore Kumar. There is so much depth in the lyrics as well as pain in the song. A person yearns for his old happy days requesting someone to bring back his old times. Nowadays this is the plight of every person living in city including me. Be it New York, Sydney, Mumbai, Bangalore or any city in this world, the city is bustling with cynics. In my past 10 years in this corporate world, I have minutely faced the cynicism of the heartless city people. Is the city too fast forward or I am too slow to adapt to its swiftness? I will never know the answer. The dreams which I had aspired to make it big in the corporate world came tumbling down when I realized that world is not as I had thought for. We see the world according to our perceptions, emotions and feelings and expect the same response from others. This is where disappointment begins. The hands that extended towards me for friendship were most opportunists, manipulative and cunning. The wisdom dawned on my mind very late. I pity on those people who recharge their mobile with high talk time options. But do they have that intention and time enough for their friends? I too extended my friendly hand towards people only to realize that no one was ready to shake hands. The city has become very cynical to a great extent. Corporate firms boast of great job opportunities, lucrative perks and encouraging work environment.
What you see later is the opposite picture of what has been shown? Horrible bosses, nagging team leads, cold & insensitive colleagues and above all a negative work environment. There is no place for genuine feelings. Everything is calculative, mechanical and opportunistic. Is this what I had aspired for? Is this what I dreamt for? I am desperately missing the old days which I still cherish it in my heart – the old school friend, my loving relatives, a forgotten crush and the paper boat which has drown somewhere deep in abyss.

‘Udaas hai mohalle ka paani aaj kal. Lagta hai kaagaz ki naav bananey wale bachchey bade ho gaye’ – Hindi quote

There is lot of depth in this Hindi quote which implies that nowadays no one is interested in making paper boats. All kids are now grown up. Life has become robotic and people are behaving like machines. A simple heart has no place in this city. Today the strength of love is measured by lavish treats, luxurious shopping, heavy bank balance and an imported, posh car with air condition. This is what today’s 21st century girl aspires for. Isn’t she right? Nowadays girls choose a rich boy with a poor heart than choosing a poor boy with a rich heart. Even love has become calculative.

‘Seeney mein jalan, aankhon mein toofan sa kyon hai, iss sheher mein har shaks pareshaan sa kyon hai’ – lyrics from movie ‘Gaman’

Through his short stories and full length novels, Ruskin Bond has captured the happiness of small towns, hill stations and villages. Despite being such a celebrated author, Ruskin still lives in a small town of Mussoorie. He still prefers writing letters and posting it in postboxes. When I read ‘Night train at Deoli and other short stories’ penned by Ruskin, I too feel to leave this city and retire to a simple life in a small town which can give some place to me in its big heart. Ironically the city is big, but there is no place for emotions, truthfulness and kindness. I guess it is time for me to pack my bags and disappear somewhere in a small hill station or a town where I can live my life as per my comfort. It is time to say good bye to the heartless city. I conclude my feelings with this beautiful song sung by Kishore Kumar.

‘Gaadi bula rahi hai, seeti baja rahi hai, chalna hi Zindagi hai, chalti hi jaa rahi hai’