Throwback from the Tinkle archives
A series where we talk to experts in different fields to guide us about various careers.
In 2012, we were privileged to have a chat with the one and the only Ruskin Bond! Ruskin Bond is an acclaimed writer who has authored numerous stories, novels, essays and articles for children as well as for older readers. His work, originally in English, has been translated into many languages. Nature, animals, children, people and ghosts, all find a place in his writing. He was born in 1934 in Kasauli, and went to a boarding school – Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. After a brief stay in London after his school days, homesickness brought him back to India. He made Mussoorie his home, at the foothills of Himalayas.
Ashwini Falnikar, who interviewed him, had this to say about the experience—I was thrilled when I got an appointment with Mr. Bond. I wondered how it would be to speak with him. Would he be willing to answer all my questions? But on hearing a warm ‘hello’ from the other side of the phone, the pressure eased, and a wonderful conversation followed.
Let's dive straight in!
Can you describe your day? What is a day in the life of a writer like?
I am 78 years old, so I like to sleep a lot! You don’t want to do it when you are young. I try to work regularly; morning time is the best since you are fresh then. I write at least two to three pages a day, either a story or a book or a poem. Then I read something, I take a walk in the evening. I spend about two hours on work everyday.
You have lived in the hills for a large part of your life. Has it been a constant source of inspiration? Did you ever want to travel?
I am an impractical man, I get lost very easily. Once I took a night train to Delhi and woke up in Lucknow. I need someone with me when travelling. Living in the hills means you are close to nature, trees, wild life, I like that. As for inspiration, I like meeting people, they give me stories. When I run out of people, there are ghosts.
You have written much about adolescence e.g. in Room on the Roof and A Flight Of Pigeons. What draws you to this topic?
I wrote Room on the Roof when I was 17. So it was a story by an adolescent for adolescents. Also much of my writing is autobiographical. I had a lonely childhood. I lost my father when I was ten; I had to adjust to a step father. I had to spend a lot of time with myself, so I understand children well. A Flight of Pigeons is historical. I wrote it in my twenties, and in that age you are very romantic. So it is a romantic story.
What do you like about writing for children?
I didn’t write for children until I was 40. I wrote a story, Angry River which was printed by a publisher in England; it had a theme that would appeal to children. It is nice to have children respond to my stories. They are frank and truthful. Recently a little girl told me that she likes my ghost stories, but they are not frightening enough. I told her that I will try to write scary stories. At another school I visited, the teacher asked the students what they thought of Bond as a writer. A girl replied, ‘Sir, you are not bad’.
Tell us something about your experience in the boarding school. How did it affect your work?
What are your upcoming projects?
Where do you feel most at peace?
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