Rusty – The boy from hills: A heart touching memoir by Ruskin Bond

‘Rusty – the boy from hills’ is one of the most endearing book on boyhood memories and has a personal & emotional connect to it. Ruskin Bond paints an intimate portrait of his childhood through the character Rusty. Through the eyes of Rusty, readers go behind the timeline in 1940’s Dehra. This book traces the origins of Rusty. Originally ‘The Room on the roof’ was the first book by Ruskin which introduced the teenage Rusty to readers. In ‘Rusty – the boy from hills’ we meet the little 9 years old Rusty pampered by his grandparents. Rusty’s parents have already been separated hence his upbringing is done by his paternal grandparents.

In this book, Rusty recounts the best days he spent with his grandparents, the Tonga rides to Dehra’s scenic towns, planting saplings in the forests and witnessing hilarious adventures of grandpa’s pets – python, monkey and a tiger. Rusty’s grandpa was no less than Dr. Do-little because the whole house was filled with animals and birds. Ruskin Bond also has described about the events of breakout of World War 2 and Rusty’s miraculous escape from a bombing. The adventure is set in Java and how Rusty & his father escape to Bombay is described like a fast paced adventure. Rusty returns to Dehra to live with grandma while his father is recruited in RAF (Royal Air Force). One day suddenly Rusty receives the news that his father has expired due to long sickness and now Rusty’s future is uncertain. Will Rusty adjust himself to living with his estranged mother and stepfather or will he stay with his grandma? These questions will only be answered by Rusty in Ruskin Bond’s book.

Blessed with an imaginative mind, Rusty has an infectious curiosity to know about the things. He want to take Tonga rides, plant saplings in forest, visit abandoned cemeteries and relish on road side foods. There is also a supernatural story in this book where Rusty comes across an abandoned grave of a woman who is connected to him. From hilarious comical situations to heart breaking emotions, Ruskin Bond has made this book like a classic Hollywood movie.

Here too Ruskin Bond has recounted the bonding with his late father – Aubrey Bond and the joyful two years he spent in the company of his dad. The chapter ‘Funeral’ in this book is really heart breaking where Rusty sneaks into the cemetery to see the burial of his father. By reading this chapter, one cannot stop shedding his tears for the little child Rusty.

A delightful reading in Rusty series, Rusty – The boy from hills is a refreshing classic to read and treasure in your personal library.

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Rusty goes to London – A nostalgic review of Ruskin Bond’s memoirs

‘When Bond describes a destination….it ceases to be a place on the map and becomes a beautiful portrait of life itself’ – DNA Review

Reading Ruskin Bond’s books is a rewarding experience in itself. Whether it is reading his short stories or the full length Rusty adventures, each book has an old world charm to it. Rusty is alter ego of Ruskin Bond and the incidents happening in Rusty’s books are highly inspired by events happened in life of Bond.

This book is one of the best books in the Rusty series which takes you on a nostalgic trip to London, Jersey & Channel Islands and brings you back to Dehra – Rusty’s hometown. This book starts off with Rusty moving to England with an aspiration to become a renowned writer. Here Rusty’s struggle for survival begins in a foreign land where he has to pass his days eating in cheap restaurants of Jersey. He works by day and spends his night writing. Despite being a homesick person, Rusty passes melancholic days in London, remembering his late father and his Dehra friends. He misses the emotional connection of Dehra in London. In one of the chapters, Rusty’s office colleague contributes his money to help Rusty buy a typewriter. Rusty’s zeal to become a writer is reflected in the chapter.

By strange coincidences, Rusty crosses path with Rudyard Kipling and Sherlock Holmes in London. The cameo of Sherlock Holmes in this book is the biggest highlight of the storyline. After a painstaking struggle, Rusty succeeds to find publishers who agree to publish his stories. It was here in London where Ruskin Bond had penned down his debut novel – The Room on the roof. There is a romantic angle in this memoir too. When it comes to penning nostalgic romantic stories, no one writes it better than Ruskin. Rusty even falls in love with a Vietnamese girl named Vu Phuong but the love is not reciprocated. The story of Vu Phuong appears in two chapters – A tribute to a dead friend and the girl from Copenhagen.

‘The girl from Copenhagen’ is a heart tugging chapter in this book where a girl named Ulla seeks shelter in Rusty’s room for two days. Though Rusty spends time with Ulla, he doesn’t emotionally connect with her. After spending days in London, Rusty returns to his hometown – Dehra and here begins his real struggle to find his identity in world of writing. The second half of the book is filled with hilarious episodes, eccentric characters coming in life of Rusty. How Rusty manages to survive in Dehra is best to be read in Ruskin Bond’s refreshing, coming of age book – Rusty goes to London. Every time I read a Ruskin Bond book, I discover a refreshing aspect of life. Rusty goes to London is a delightful read and full of light hearted situations, funny characters and blink & miss cameo by the legendary Dilip Kumar. If you loved reading ‘Rusty goes to London’ do check ‘Rusty Runs away’ and ‘Rusty comes home’.

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.

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