‘Where do you want to live when you grow up?’ or ‘where do you want to go on your next vacation?’ When posed to the kids today, both the questions elicit response that invariably points to a destination outside India. Of course, everyone has a right to live the way they want and where they want and it’s a matter of individual choice. I have nothing against living or working abroad but what I abhor is how kids today blindly assume that the key to a bright future lies anywhere but in India! Even when it comes to travel, (taking a cue from their classmates) sightseeing tours or vacations within India don’t seem to enthuse them as much as holidaying on foreign shores. I am not sure if this attitude can be put down to a childhood fascination with “the distant and dreamy” locales or an extension or a reflection of the Indian middle class mindset, but ever notice that our kids always come up with names of places outside India while playing Atlas games. For instance, when it’s Abhay’s turn to name a place starting from I …..his choices range from Istanbul to Indianapolis……….. and never India! J
In an attempt to set right this anomaly, I picked a book that best illustrates the unique connection one feels with India like no other country. A gem of a book from a gem of an author whose writings and musings are evergreen in as much as they can be read as many times over by one and all, without running the risk of ‘been there and read that”! Well, the name is Bond..and no prizes for guessing that its Ruskin Bond I’m referring to! When I chanced upon “the India I love” at the “Funky Rainbow” bookstore at a Bookalore event, the cover page itself looked so appetizing that I had to have the full course meal!
“the India I love” is a collection of prose and poems that has the celebrated author rewind and have us unwind over his reflections on his India experiences! Though some of his writings are a little above Abhay’s reading and probably comprehension level, Ruskin’s Bond’s writings are meant to be read aloud ….and reading to your nine year old with a few explanations here and there is a treat by itself! As the author himself admits that his forte lies in “observation, recollection and reflection” and there are plenty of such musings in this work – from his innate understanding of “Children of India” to why he chose to live in Mussorie heading a family of twelve in “Now we are twelve” to his diary notings during the period when he was still establishing himself as an author in “Simply living” to a throwback at a time when he was caught between the East and the West ( much like many of us) in “India I carried with me” to his many a reading adventures, and bringing back memories of his grandmother’s house in the Dehra Dun of the 1940s, to the and finally to his “Thoughts on approaching seventy”…..there are so many facets and faces of India that he loves and writes about in his characteristic style that has you smiling away till the last page! Well, I’m not sure if reading the book has made any difference to how my little armchair globe-trotter feels about making India his home in the future…but the colours of the India that Ruskin Bond writes will never fade just as his writings never do! A must read if you are a Bond fan….the Bond from Mussorie!! J