Victor Banerjee on life on a cold winter’s day in Landour, Mussorie. In Express Eye:
We have no winters of discontent up here. Without rambunctious Dilliwallahas and Haryanvis, Mussoorie has become the paradise we all retreated to and retired in, to die happily one day.
Ruskin Bond spends most of the day turning from one side to the other, contemplating stories under his quilt and roaring expletives, sending fans scurrying down the hill every time they open his front door and let in a chilling draught from wintry icicles that hang from his eaves. Steve Alter, our handsomest writer, chugs around the hill, diurnally, to look as beautiful as his wife and waves a petite but dangerous magic wand (imported from the US) at monkeys that might attack or cows that might gore or anpadh tourists who mistake him for Ruskin or sometimes Tom his cousin, or what utterly shatters him, me.
What is, however, making our toes curl and our pheasants’ feathers ruffle, are a new bunch of flamboyant social proselytizers who have insidiously infiltrated the community of laid-back and indolent creative wasters (like moi) who, from time immemorial, have inhabited the Landour hillside. More:
In Mint-Lounge, Mayank Austin Soofi visits Mussoorie’s living landmark, who has completed 60 years of writing:
“I’m a little more successful than I thought I would be,” he says, on reaching the six-decade milestone as a writer. Bond, 77, was first published in August 1951 when The Illustrated Weekly of India carried his short story My Calling.
The unassuming author, born to Anglo-Indian parents in Kasauli, has all he wished for: a home in the hills, a loving family which looks after him, thousands of books, pen and paper and an income from the royalties he receives from the sale of his books. Bond has published more than 80 titles, many of which are still in print. “I belong to the middle class, no, the upper-working class gentry,” he says.
Mussoorie has been his home since 1964, and Bond is the town’s greatest monument. From hotel managers and shopkeepers to cab drivers, vegetable sellers and coolies, everyone knows the way to Ivy Cottage, Bond’s home, which is as much of a tourist attraction as the hill station’s ropeway ride. Many locals also know his landline phone number (Bond doesn’t keep a cellphone). Tourists knock daily at his home. In summer, they come in such large numbers that Bond has to go underground. In all seasons, every Saturday evening (from 4-6), Bond is sighted at the Cambridge Bookstore on Mussoorie’s Mall Road, where weekend revellers from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh flock to him for photos and book signing. Some of these encounters might anger a lesser mind, but Bond handles them with his characteristic gentle humour.
“I’ve been congratulated as the author of Kipling’s The Jungle Book and occasionally mistaken for Enid Blyton,” says Bond. More:
From the Hindustan Times:
When you read this I will have returned to the Himalayas once again to try and highlight the dramatic changes that are taking place in our mountains as a result of climate change. These lungs of the world are clogging with the noxious fumes of our carbon emissions, and the slow crawl of poison must be checked before it is too late. The Himalayas are the largest concentration of glaciers outside of the polar caps, and they are also receding faster than any other in the world because of global warming.
I have always felt a connection with the mountains. I’m not sure where exactly that connection comes from, but I know it is something I have in common with thousands of others who have been as lucky to visit them. I think it’s the sense of humility they impart to you: to stand there and face the immensity of nature and try to be at one with it is a great and humbling experience; the effect it has on you is unique.
Of course, the spirituality the Himalayas provoke isn’t just consigned to the mountain ranges: the Gangotri glacier is the source of the Ganga, the holy mother of India. It is also shrinking at a rate of 34m per year. That means that, by tomorrow morning, as this paper lies outside and a fresh copy is in your hands, another slice of glacier the thickness of your thumb will be gone. My daughter is nine now. If we allow the retreat of these glaciers to continue at the current rate, they’ll be gone by the time she’s in her thirties. There’s a real chance her children will not experience the beauty of the Himalayan ranges and rivers. More: