At the jam-packed Jaipur Literature Fest, author Ruskin Bond was never left alone. Bombarded with questions, interactions, photo-ops, signing sessions, he perhaps wanted to run away to Mussourie to his Room on the Roof. Before he could do so, Rajasthan Post caught up with him….
One can never get enough of Bond. The jam-packed sessions of author Ruskin Bond, at the currently ongoing Jaipur Literature, could not be more telling.
Not to disappoint his fans, Ruskin Bond joined the Twitter on Friday after perhaps the overwhelming love and affection he found at the JLF. He tweeted a simple “Hello, world. Delighted to be on Twitter.”
Till now he had kept aloof from the social media platforms, but he joined the digital world on Friday to stay connected with his fans.
On a question about the whole publicity drill of authors now, Ruskin who writes for children and adults and has over 500 novels, short stories and essays to his credit, said, “remaining anonymous and not so much in the public eye, gave writers a certain advantage earlier. They could move about freely. They could watch people without being watched and tell their stories. But now it is a different exercise altogether.”
But his fans have remained the same. At the JLF, they spanned all ages. There were kids, young, teens, old, very old but he kept all in good humour.
Despite same questions many times over during the interactive sessions, he never lost his smile or the twinkle in his eyes or looked bored. With funny and touching episodes from his life, he held the audience in awe.
At 81, his sense of comic relief is still perfect. He found it all a bit rushed perhaps but never ever dampened the spirit of the people there.
He tried his best to jazz up the sessions with his funny anecdotes and witty one liners, amidst the straight-faced anchors who wanted him to dwell more on his growing up years.
At his first session on the first day of JLF, seeing the huge crowd waiting for him, Ruskin instantly said: “I can feel the affection.”
Someone from the crowd wanted him to have lunch with him, someone wanted him to tell her which book would be useful for her career. He did not oblige but gave them answers that perhaps they would remember for the rest of their lives.
They wanted Ruskin to be their mentor, a teacher. Instead, he had the crowd roaring, when he said: “Don’t run away from school. Instead make the teacher run away from school. And even if you do run away from school, make sure you have enough pocket money and plan it out in advance.”
Ruskin, who creates magic with pen, talked about his unique relationship with his father, with whom he could spend a year or two. “My father was not a reader. He was a stamp collector. He bought me a diary and I started writing, not on a regular basis but off and on. Perhaps my inclination for writing started from there. He bought me books and took me around the monuments in Delhi, like Lal Qila, Qutub Minar and told me about their history and geography. He was my first friend. I lost him early but that relationship has stayed with me.”
About his other friends, Ruskin said he had many. “And one of them landed in Tihar Jail. It took me many years to seek out friends.” But he advised: “You must not look for perfection in your friends. You must look for their affection.”
But Ruskin is always looking out into the nature. He found his calling amongst nature in Dehra and Mussourie and in his own room on the roof. He quipped: “I love nature. I get so much back from nature. It is constantly changing around us. And I love my room, my own space and my window, which is the window to the world, to outdoors and to dreams.”
His book ‘Room on the Roof’ is into its 60th year this year. His books that have been made into films include The blue umbrella, Saat Khoon Maaf and Junoon.
Talking about his cameo role in Saat Khoon Maaf, Ruskin said: “After a fatherly peck on actor Priyanka Chopra’s cheeks for a shot, director Vishal Bharadwaj said do it convincingly. Then after seven takes, he said I was doing it deliberately. And after that nobody offered me another role.”
Now at this old age, he still writes, reads classics, crime writers, Somerset Maugham and follows his heart. He ended: “I follow my heart rather than my mind. And that is the way I keep happy.”