SUBJECT: 4.5/5
WRITING: 4.5/5
OVERALL: 4.5/5
THEMES: Nonfiction Writing, Reading, Writing, Books, And Nature

“The stories and the poems float in through my window, float in from the magic mountains, and the words appear on the page without much effort on my part. I can see the curvature of the earth from my window, because there is nothing between me and the far horizon. Planet Earth belongs to me. And at night, the stars are almost within reach. “

Ruskin Bond, Journey Down the Years

Those who know me as a reader, are probably well aware of my affection for Ruskin Bond and his writing. I can easily lose myself in his words for hours without ever getting bored. After reading his works continuously for over a decade, I can confidently say that my admiration for him only deepens with each passing year and each page turned.

What is the book all about?

In the introduction of the book, penned sometime in March 2017, the author delightfully informs us of the many joys of unrestricted writing. The writer expresses his thoughts on a wide array of topics, from the peacocks near Mathura to the fragrance of petunias and sweet peas, an encounter with an old lady on a walnut tree, or a lazy afternoon at the Taj Mahal.

Some of the pieces mentioned in the book were lost to time, buried under the weight of numerous books and essays. Rediscovering these literary treasures after a long time, the author has included them in this collection, along with some of his more recent writings.

This book comprises 25 such pieces, spanning an eclectic range of subjects. From contemplations on winds and shade to observations on railway platforms and mountainsides, from reflections on the mighty Ganges to descriptions of various pilgrimage spots, from sounds and fragrances to wildflowers and trees, and from birds and bloodsuckers to nostalgic journeys down memory lane, this book has something to offer to everyone.

The many essays and my personal favourites

The titular piece that lends the book its name, “Journey Down the Lane,” explores the author’s life history not only as a novelist and storyteller but also as a person. From his origins in Jamnagar, Gujarat, to his formative years in Shimla, from his cherished memories of his grandmother’s home in Dehradun to his adventures as a young boy in the UK, where he sought solace from homesickness by recreating the Dehra of his youth in his debut novel, “The Room on the Roof.”

He also talks about his experiences with the mighty mountains and bustling railway stations, which proved to be inspirations for stories like “The Tunnel,” “The Woman on Platform 8,” and “The Night Train at Deoli.”

In “My Adventure Wind,” he describes the various types of wind, educating readers on how it sounds different among different trees.

“My Limehouse Adventure” explores the stark contrast between imagination and reality, and in the process, reveals to us that they are not so different after all.

In “The Charming Bloodsucker,” “Journey to Mathura,” and “The Gallery of Birds,” his deep knowledge and unwavering love for fauna is brought to the fore.

In “Gran’s Kitchen”, the reader is transported to a bygone era. This piece takes us to the Dehra of Mr. Bond’s youth, where his Gran’s pickles were very famous, and where both Uncle Ken and young Ruskin relished her delicious food as if there were no tomorrow.

“Guests Who Fly in from the Forest” is another beloved piece, illustrating the joys of living in an isolated cottage in the jungle, far from the bustle of humanity, surrounded by nature’s splendour and in the company of her beloved creatures.

The writing shines through

The book offers a glimpse into the life of the author himself. Through his anecdotes and musings, Bond shares insights into his journey as a writer. He offers valuable lessons and observations that he has collected from a lifetime spent in writing tales of adventure and wonder. His words not only entertain but also inspire.

In essence, “Journey Down the Years” is more than just a collection of essays—it is a testament to the nurturing power of nature, the joys of simple living, and the beauty of the written word. It is a book to be savoured, and revisited time and time again. It is a timeless ode to one of literature’s most beloved storytellers.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Journey Down the Years right away!