Reading Ruskin Bond ..




And I am disappointed :( Yes, I know he is hailed as one of the greatest writers ever. Lured by the praises and discerning that his books are flavored with beautiful descriptions of nature(which I love reading for it brings those scenes alive in front of my eyes), I picked up an omnibus from Flipkart.

I did enjoy reading 'The Room on the Roof' and 'Vagrants in the Valley'. The descriptions of picturesque Dehradun were delightful to read and the theme of a young boy breaking free from his shackles and boldly making his way in the world, trying to shape his future even as he struggles to sustain himself was heartening to read. My empathy and appreciation went out to the many people who must be living such lives in the real world. I also enjoyed reading about the bond of friendship that ties Rusty and his friends together and the unadulterated fun that they all have even though life is pretty hard for them. The ending which is not so conclusive adds to the story's value. It is left to the reader's imagination to figure out whether Rusty does make his fortune or if he would reach London at all, for that matter.

Bond has beautifully sketched the lives of people who are left to their own means in this world and has completely explored the concept of strangers coming together for brief periods in life. Now, the two novels that I have talked about so far are actually one single story. Vagrants in the Valley is a sequel to the first book. They can and probably should have the same theme and flavours.

But then I started reading 'Delhi is not Far' and lo! The same theme of a man struggling through life all by himself while nurturing a distant dream, strangers being friends and helping each other, each person wanting to break free from his current circumstances but held a prisoner in them, and ... hold your breath - repetition of a character and a related scene from the previous novel! I cannot accept this from a writer of that stature. There is a mentally retarded character named the 'Goonga' who can speak only a word which is 'Goo'. The scene where the Goonga is harassed by customers at a tea shop and the protagonist shows kindness to him features in both the novels.This is the point where I lost my patience.

I do not know if I am being too hasty in being disappointed. Maybe I should not judge such a widely acclaimed author after reading just two and half of his works. Or should I have given some gap between reading one and the other? I did. I almost gave it a month. How long a gap is required? A year? But I would still remember every detail and even if I did not, the next story is sure to bring it all flooding back into my memory,  thanks to the remarkable resemblance of theme, characters and story line.

I do not want to offend the many hard core fans that he has, but I am certainly entitled to my opinion. I feel really sad when I cannot complete a book and this omnibus is staring at me from my table with three fourth of it left unfinished. Oh how I hate this feeling!

Do any of you know his other novels in this collection to be different? If yes, please tell me which one and I shall gladly pick up the book and pursue it again. For, I did like his way with words and the pictures he paints with them. Just that I am unable to bear the monotony. If you have indeed offered something even slightly different in your other novels, I would gladly join your fan club Mr. Bond! Believe me, I wish to.



PS: I am aware that some amount of research on the internet can get me the answers I seek but as I already said, I have run out of patience. I bought this book after quite a bit of review reading and seem to have gone wrong in choosing it .So if fellow readers can help, I would be glad :)




Comments

  1. No pointers from me, I'm afraid. I have never enjoyed Ruskin Bond. I've read Night train at Deoli and the Blue umbrella and a collection of short stories...but that's about it. Had no patience for any more. Tell me if you pick up something that you like, though after 3 books, I doubt I'll try again.

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    1. So I do have company then :) I think his short stories are better .. I remember reading some of them. If you do want to try, The Room on the Roof was quite good.

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  2. ahem..if I told you that I haven't read him, would you be aghast? I did read a snippet of the blue umbrella on flipkart but didn't find it exciting enough to purchase it, so I let it be.

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    1. Not at all Uma. Intelligent choice I would say :) I found out the hard way ..

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  3. I haven't read his novels.But the impression I gain is your making a mountain of a mere peccadillo.If the repeated passage was a beautiful one in the first novel,why should a repetition annoy you.The only point is whether it merges well with the story in the second.You do not dissect a flower to relish its fragrance.Pray,do not take me amiss..I am no fan of Ruskin.

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    1. Those are wise words indeed. Maybe I am making a mountain out of it .. Reflecting upon your words, the repeated character and scene is not a particularly beautiful one. And my problem is I am finding the storyline and characters very monotonous. They are all along the same lines.
      I have decided to read the last novel in this omnibus. Hoping to find it a little different and as you rightly said I hope I do enjoy the fragrance without dissecting the flower!
      Thank you so much for this well thought out comment KP sir.

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  4. I haven't read any of Ruskin Bond's novels, except Rusty, which we had in school. And I barely remember anything about it. :)

    I am a big fan of his books about nature, his books on essays. I love the way he writes about the little things in life, in the world around him. Makes you want to stop and observe life more closely. I would recommend Notes From A Small Room, if you haven't read it already.

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  5. Check out his A Town Called Dehra and Roads To Mussoorie, too.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I also liked his way with words so I am going to take these up.

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