PLOT: 4/5

As will be the case with most of the people who grew up in the 1990s, a major chunk of my childhood too was spent on watching Doordarshan sponsored children television programs.

Among the many that I used to earnestly follow, the Ruskin Bond penned “Ek tha Rusty” was a special favourite. Ever since I had first set my eyes on the show, both the serial and its creator, have had a special place in the list of my all-time favourites.

I still remember the magic of the mesmerizing Himalayas combined with the charm of Ruskin’s ordinary yet extraordinary characters which the show portrayed and showcased beautifully.

So, time and time again, whenever I remember Rusty, I remember Ruskin Bond. One way for me to relive the magic he created almost 16 years ago is by reading his other works and that is where this review comes from.

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Well, coming to Delhi Is Not Far and talking about the plot, there isn’t any. Talk about the climax, there isn’t any. But what is there is a plentiful of everyday life and the nuisances of commonplace small-town people.

The characters are all there is to this book and they are indeed what makes this book such a special read. They all are unique.

Arun, the struggling writer will write cheap thriller novels than do examination guides and who gets more satisfaction killing prostitutes than penning down boring guides which easily sell like hotcakes and offer better monetary compensation.

Kamla, the young prostitute who, while being what she is, still remains as innocent as a teenage girl. Suraj, the wonderful orphan boy who is the source of constant inspiration and companionship to Arun, is also charming in his own way.

Then comes the barber Deepchand, the rickshaw-wala Pitamber and the junk shop aspirer Aziz, all of whom dream of making it big in the nasty by-lanes of Delhi’s Chandni Chowk among many other areas.

Delhi Is Not Far, to an extent, will assure you that the writer Arun is none other than the legendary Ruskin Bond himself and that his story is anything but untrue.

Right from the hardships he faced with finding well-paying and sustainable publishers, to the adventures of his one-day vegetable stall and encounters with bossy beggars, everything will appear like it is what Ruskin actually did and actually faced. 

Also amusing will be small incidents which are queer in nature and almost unheard of. Like the beggar association and the tax on beggars which the municipality wants to impose on them (though the same was later found out to be just a plain rumour, it was nevertheless quite amusing).

In the end, I would recommend Delhi Is Not Far to those who come from small towns, appreciate the small-town life and enjoy a lazy and laid back read without questioning the plot or the lack of it.

It is indeed a great read. Delhi is not far but you will see, for these small-town folks, how Delhi will always remain far.