“Happiness is a mysterious thing, to be found somewhere between too little and too much.” – Ruskin Bond
If you are a book lover, you can’t really visit Mussoorie without realizing that this is Ruskin Bond territory.
You see it in the winding roads and rolling hills. You hear it in a chirp or a caw. You smell it in the sturdiness of the oak tree. You feel the presence of the life that inspired one of India’s greatest writers.
I read Ruskin Bond fairly late in life but was drawn to the simple joys that Bond delights in. Last year, for my birthday, I wanted to see Mussoorie like Bond might – with gentleness, slow moods, and languid walks.
And I so hoped to meet him.
So, I went to the Cambridge Book Depot on Mall Road, a bookshop that Bond is known to haunt, especially on Saturdays when he chuckles and jokes around with children and adults alike. I waited, peering into what surely must have been the most narrow bookstore I had ever visited, books hanging precariously on their aged spines.
He didn’t turn up. I moved on down the road to the Mussoorie Library – another favorite of Bond. This was pulsing with chaos, pushing me away. I gasped. The crowds were too much. This wasn’t the Mussoorie that Bond writes about with such love. This was a chaotic den of trippers coming here to snap selfies and jostle for chaat. Where was the calm? I walked away.
The next day, I walked over to Landour, lost in trails winding and straight. Here was Ruskin Bond’s home – not an idyllic cottage – but a simple whitewashed house overlooking the hills.
It’s calmer here, and I see what the writer sees: a sweeping view of the hills. But a noisy restaurant next door intrudes into the peace. I found a bench in front of the writer’s house and read.
I read for hours. At some point, the noise quieted. Should I go and knock on his door? I wondered. But it seemed rude, an atrocious invasion of his privacy. So, I stayed there, content to just lose myself in the same landscape as a beloved writer.
At some point, a window slammed shut even as the sun started to set sleepily. I shut my book too, and walked away. I never did get to meet Ruskin Bond. But you know what? It felt like I did.
7 Replies to “Meeting Ruskin Bond”
Just back from Mussoorie and can so relate to your beautiful writing.
I hope you enjoyed your trip? 🙂 Did you see his house? On another note, how did you land on this page? I get a lot of visits to this page, and I am curious how people are coming here – I mean I run a non-SEO-optimized site…curious. 😀
Was looking forward to meeting him last April but then was told he had stopped coming since COVID.
Ah yes. It’s also quite a crowd these days.
Mussorie as you rightly mentioned is definitely a Ruskin Bond’s territory! Bond’s writings celebrate simple moments. I am glad that you got to experience that and felt like you met him.
The photographs are lovely. Specially the narrow bookstore one. Captured it beautifully.
Lovely post as always SM
How nice to hear from you after a long time, Srushthi. Hope you have been well, friend.
I have been doing well ,SM. Hope you are doing great.