India’s favourite Bond turns 90

| Updated: 20 May, 2024 4:19 pm IST
Ruskin Bond and some of his best works.

NEW DELHI: Long before the famous British fictional character James Bond gained prominence, India had its own ‘Bond.’ In 1956, three years after the first James Bond character took birth, India’s Bond published his first book. Titled, “The Room on the Roof,” this book won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1957.

The year is 2024. India’s favorite ‘Bond’, Ruskin Bond, the legendary author has turned 90. Born on 19 May 1934, in Kasauli a small town in Punjab States Agency, in the then British India. He spent his childhood in picturesque places like Dehradun, Mussoorie, and Shimla, which later formed an integral part of all his stories.

Over a career spanning 50 years, he has written over 500 short stories, essays, and novels including 69 books for children. With age taking its toll, he is not the one to be bogged down. What can be the best proof of him defying his age, than publishing a book at 90 years of age? Ruskin Bonds’ best works include, ‘The Room on the Roof,’ ‘The Blue Umbrella,’ ‘A Flight of Pigeons,’ ‘The Night Train at Deoli and other stories.’

Titled, ‘How to be Happy,’ this book is the third in the ‘How-to-series’ of Ruskin Bond. Through this book, he gives his readers advice on how to live a happy life based on his 90 years of experience. He says, “You can’t buy happiness. You can’t get it wholesale or retail or online. It inhabits a small space in your mind, and you must look for it there.”

Ruskin Bond has many awards to his name. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in the year 1992 for his book, ‘Our trees still grow in Dehra.’ In the year 1999, he received the Padma Shri award followed by India’s third highest civilian honor, Padma Bhushan in 2014. Recently, India’s Bond was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest literary honor of the Akademi in the year 2021.

After turning 90, the ace writer recently penned a beautiful letter. In this letter, Ruskin Bond talks about turning 90 and thinking about what makes life happy. He says that being happy sometimes is enough to lead a good life. He shares little things that bring joy, like having morning tea, feeling the warmth of the sun on the bed, or enjoying a family gathering. He also talks about the importance of laughter, even at oneself, and holding onto dreams, no matter what. Ruskin Bond encourages enjoying each day, laughing often, and never giving up on dreams, no matter how tough life gets.

Currently, Ruskin Bond lives in Landour, Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. He rarely gives interviews. In one such rare interview, the prolific author says, “99% of the writers are forgotten in the long run. We’re writing for posterity but nobody remembers us afterwards.”

Comparing his writing career to an adage he says, “They say old soldiers never die, they simply fade away. Even old writers never die, they just go out of print.” But, he’s not the one to go out of print soon. With his latest book, ‘How to be Happy’ released on his 90th Birthday, the most famous Bond of India is still relevant.

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