Capital Guest – Mr Bond in Delhi
A beloved author’s links to this city.
[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; picture by Sunil Saxena]
Everybody loves Mr Ruskin Bond, the children’s writer who celebrated his 75th birthday on May 19th, 2009.
Born in Kasauli, brought up in Simla, Jamnagar, Dehradun and Mussoorie, Mr Bond has been living in Landour in the Himalayan province of Uttarakhand, since the 60s. But he does have a strong connection with Delhi — because this is where the business is.
He comes to Delhi frequently on the invitation of his publishers. But Mr Bond, despite being one of the most renowned authors in the country, is not one to seek the luxury of Delhi’s five-star hotels. “I’ve stayed in big hotels of big cities for a day or two, but their long corridors remind me of jails — not that I was ever imprisoned in one,” he says in his usual humourous style. He was talking to The Delhi Walla on a landline from Landour. Mr Bond has no mobile phone and he writes on an old Ramington typewriter.
In case if you are interested, our dear author suffers from a recurring nightmare. It goes something like this: he is staying in a five-star hotel in Bombay, and someone is supposed to come and pay on his behalf. Meanwhile, he has all the luxuries. A week passes and no one has turned up yet with the cash. He is worried. Finally, the moment comes when he is to be presented with the bill. Fortunately, Mr Bond says that he always wakes up sweating at this point.
If not hotels, where does he stay when in town? “I prefer the India International Centre,” he says. No kids there, so story plots probably don’t hit him at the rate of a hundred per minute, but Mr Bond finds other things to do at the IIC. “I’m an old-fashioned person who likes gardening, reading and writing,” he says.
Better still, the IIC offers no five-star nightmare. Here, Mr Bond knows that his publishers will pay as he sups in its dining room and reads in the library. Besides, our beloved author also likes the IIC’s old-world staff. “Somebody always appears if you ring the bell,” he exclaims. And then there is Lodhi Garden, right next door. Mr Bond loves walking here as long as he doesn’t stumble into lovers.
However, The Delhi Walla is not sure if Mr Bond will have any stomach for Dilli ka khana. You know, the raan, kebab kind of stuff. “I may compromise on my other meals, but in the morning I want my fried eggs, ham, fluffy omelettes and toasts,” he says. So perhaps there’s no point in taking this legendary writer to the legendary parathe waali galli (No ham there!). But thank God for the IIC. “I like the scrambled eggs there,” he says. More than the eggs, we wish Mr Bond more books and more birthday cakes in the years to come.