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Why Ruskin Bond, synonymous with city of Mussoorie, wants to move beyond hills

At the first day of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, Bond said, "It's not the place that makes you a writer. I was a writer even before I began living in Mussoorie.

Srijani Ganguly | January 22, 2016 | Updated 09:12 IST
Ruskin Bond, Indian author of British descent
Ruskin Bond, Indian author of British descent Photo: Reuters

Over the years, Ruskin Bond has become synonymous with the city of Mussoorie. Despite the connection the mind conjures, the author himself wished to separate the influence of the place in his writing.

At the first day of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, Bond said, "It's not the place that makes you a writer. I was a writer even before I began living in Mussoorie. Although the place is helpful, writing is something that's born in you."

The reason he chose Mussoorie as base - he settled there in 1963 - was due to a few practical concerns.

"I knew the area, having grown up in (nearby) Dehradun and it was close to Delhi, where my publishers were. It was very cheap for a struggling writer in those days to live in the hills," he said.

Bond also taked about his growing up years. He had a troubled childhood - a fate that he shares with many well-known authors.

"Many famous writers have had difficult childhoods. Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, for example. I think if you have a lonely childhood, it makes you sensitive to the problems of other children," he said.

He also spoke about certain humourous incidents that shaped up his life. A comically tragic one was the memory of his first kiss. "I tried to kiss the girl, and she tried to kiss me. And we both missed!," he said.

He has been in touch with many of his childhood friends. "Most of them did well in life. One of them ended up in Tihar Jail, but he's doing well there too," he told an enraptured audience.

Another interesting childhood anecdote he shared was about the time he wrote his first novel, on which satirized a few of his school teachers.

Unfortunately, the notebooks in which he had written the novel was later confiscated by a teacher. "And I am still waiting for it to be returned," Bond added.

Once he graduated out of school, he faced another dissenter of his literary talents. "After I finished school, my mother asked what I wanted to become. When I said I wanted to be a writer, she replied, 'Don't be silly, join the army.' If I had joined the army, I imagine I would have been someone like Beetle Bailey (a comic strip character who is a soldier)," he added.

(In association with Mail Today Bureau)

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