I have read many books by Ruskin Bond lately as part of my venture of reading many books by one author. I picked this one to get a view of our motherland from Ruskin Bond’s point of view. Though the book is beyond what the title seems to promise.
The book is a collection of nineteen heartfelt poems and essays. The India the author loves is far from the one we so often read about, see on TV or on tourism websites. In the author’s own words;
“The India that I love does not make the headlines. The India that I love comprises the goodwill and good humor of ordinary people; a tolerance for all customs; a non-interference in other’s private lives; a friendly reciprocation at all times; a philosophical acceptance of hardships; love and affection, especially in children.
That is on the human side. And there’s the land itself forest and plain, mountain and desert, river and sea, all mean different things to me. All these I have loved, and attempted to celebrate over the yeas, in a way I know best.”
The book has a vibrant cover that makes better sense once you’ve read the book because every object at display holds a strong connection with what the author feels for people, places and things.
Most chapters in the book are preceded by a catchy illustration of the author that adds to the charm of this otherwise heartwarming book. I wish to congratulate Sandeep Adhwaryu for capturing the mood and essence of every chapter in his illustrations impeccably.
This book has one of the most memorable book dedications I have read in a long time,
“In the spirit of goodwill, tolerance and ahimsa,
I dedicate this book
to all those who come knocking at my door
in the middle of my afternoon siesta.
May they too discover the benefits
and pleasures of a good afternoon’s sleep.”
If you’re a Ruskin Bond fan you’d be well aware how his simple writing has the poignant charm of no two sentences ever being similar. The positive attitude with a gentle yet warming sense of humor makes reading his essays and poems a joyful experience.
The best part of Bond’s poems is that they continue telling the story without ever being a slave of rhyming, effortlessly flowing like a cascading stream down the mountain slopes and always leaving the reader with a wonderful perspective.
At the risk of repeating myself, I have to say that this book is another masterpiece of simplicity at its magnanimous best. Every chapter is filled with pages from author’s personal life and at places also has entries from his personal diary. I couldn’t stop being amazed by how enriching and inspiring it could be to savor the nuggets of life-lessons re-living author’s life in his words.
“We get out of life what we bring to it. There is not a dream which may not come true if we have the energy which determines our own fate. We can always get what we want if we will it intensely enough…So few people succeed greatly because so few people conceive a great end, working towards it without giving up. We all know that the man who works steadily for money gets rich; the man who works day and night for fame or power reaches his goal. And those who work for deeper, more spiritual achievements will find them too. It may come when we no longer have any use for it, but if we have been willing it long enough, it will come!”
There are a few chapters, about his adopted family and friends of the youth that have been shared in his other books too. Having read those recently, I was in no way tempted to skip reading them again, because every time they fill me with awe for author’s compassion and power of observation, recollection and reflection.
The lucid narration makes this book a quick read but I (like always) chose to indulge in one chapter at a time, sleeping over, assimilating and cherishing the life lessons I learnt over the course of reading this book.
I could feel a particular connect with the chapter ‘The India I Carried With Me‘. It surprisingly gifted me many answers to the questions posed by similar choices I made not so long ago. Looking into my life in India (though I do not live on a hill station like the author) and comparing it with the choice I made, holds strong ties with the thoughts that ran through author’s mind in his youth, around 50 years ago.
I share with the author in my love for nature, stopping to spend time observing nature at play and most of all the love of having a room with a window with a beautiful view. I also picked up reading recommendations from the book and loved re-visiting the rivers of India in his words.
The joy of reading about river Ganga and many other rivers and streams in Ruskin Bond’s words is unparalleled because it is not limited to the details we all have read in our geography lessons. It had an insight and personal touch from a traveler’s point of view who has a way of noticing some of the easily missed intricate details while pointing out the obvious in a way that’ll stay with me for a long time.
However, the best part of the book is where the author shares a sneak peek into his life as a writer in the chapter ‘Joyfully I Write’. I loved the way he touched upon the subject of how writers are often chided for repeating themselves. He not only acknowledges the existence of this trait in every artist, musician and also writers but beautifully elaborated as to what makes it happen and how it is nothing to be shied from. This particular chapter holds nuggets of wisdom worth their weight in gold for every writer (or an aspiring writer) seeking advise from someone who is passionate about writing. I loved the insight into why a writer’s pen can never run dry because there is inspiration aplenty for everyone, waiting to be observed and etched into a memorable story.
Brief introduction to author’s love for haiku writing in one of the chapters (visible in the picture above), impressed me enough to try my hand on it.
I highly recommend this book if you are a Ruskin Bond fan, are looking for a balmy, autobiographical, quick paced book or are a writer looking for inspiration from the life of a very talented, celebrated, passionate writer like Ruskin Bond. This book offers an insight into life in India from a very positive yet honest point of view inspiring the reader to go back to nature for all his needs.
About the Book:
Title – The India I Love
Author – Ruskin Bond
Publisher – Rupa Publications
Genre – Non-Fiction
Pages – 144
Price – INR 195
ISBN – 978-81-291-4178-1
About the Author – Ruskin Bond has been writing for over sixty years and has now over 120 titles in print novels, collections of stories, poetry, essays, anthologies and books for children. His first novel, The Room on the Roof, received the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys award in 1957. He has also received the Padma Shri (1999), the Padma Bhushan (2014) and two awards from the Sahitya Akademi one for his short stories and another for his writings for children. In 2012, the Delhi government gave him its Lifetime Achievement award.