CONCEPT: 4.5/5 WRITING: 4.5/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 4.5/5
“We are, after all, the products of history, creatures of our own past.”– Ruskin Bond, Landour Days
It was at the Cambridge Book Depot in Mussoorie, while looking for non-fiction writings by the author, that I first came across Landour Days. More specifically, I was looking for Mr. Bond’s writings about his life in and around the places that he has lived, when none other than the book shop owner Mr. Sunil Arora recommended the book to me. And thank God for that because this book is exactly what I was looking for.
Being a compulsive diarist, Ruskin Bond has been in the habit of maintaining a diary ever since his school days. And this habit has enabled him to preserve many memories that would have been lost otherwise.
The book, first published in 2002, when the author was 20 years younger, is a compilation of his diary entries and is divided into four sections – Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, and Winter. Each of these sections is then divided into different months, starting from April, May, June, and so on, before culminating in the month of March.
Now Landour is a magical place. The land of mystic mountains, quaint roads, verdant greens, timeless jungles, and flora and fauna that can put the best of forests to shame. These serene landscapes, where nature buzzes louder than mankind provide a meditative retreat for the author. His beautiful words, almost devotion-like, bear testimony to his love for a place he has called home for many decades of his life.
But Landour Days is not just that. One would be wrong to assume that the book is just about Landour and Bond’s life in Landour. It is not, for it has much more to offer to its readers.
It is about his day-to-day life, and also about his love for nature, his long walks to the hills, and his interactions with the locals and with others of his own kind (writers). It tells of his rendezvous with people, some charming, some not so welcome.
The book is also about his writing life and his journey as an author, which he succinctly sums up in this profound statement –
“In the autumn of my life, I grow reflective.”
The book acquaints us with the writers whom he has known and the writers whose books he has loved reading. It talks of other related topics which might seem trivial to a new age reader but holds immense importance in the eyes of the writer. For example, there are pages devoted to describing handwriting and typewriters, and the world of critics and aspiring writers.
A special treat is an excerpt from a very precious letter. A letter from his father, written to a nine-year-old Ruskin almost eighty years ago. There are some other vintage treats too. Memories of his childhood, treasures that he holds in the highest regard.
The writing enjoys a languid pace, which I believe, stands witness to his pensive state. It would be wrong to try and box the book into a single category. Because it is a potpourri of stories, and memories of a lifetime that makes the author who he is.
It is Ruskin Bond at his candid best.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of the book using the link below.