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Archive for the ‘Ruskin Bond’ Category

The India I LoveThe India I Love by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anybody who loves India cannot stop themselves from falling in love with this book. It is not a question of sweeping away the unpalatable things of India under the carpet, but one does need to look at the good aspects and this book does exactly this.

Read it to see India from a positive perspective.

Speaking about the natural beauty that is found in abundance in India the Ruskin in his own way states how it helps him stay happy. He states “External conditions do play their part in individual happiness. But our essential happiness or unhappiness is really independent of these things. It is a matter of character, or nature, or even our biological make-up. There are prosperous, successful people, who are constantly depressed and miserable. And the less fortunate, those who must put up with discomfort, disability and other disadvantages, who manage to be cheerful and good-natured in spite of everything. Some effort of course, is needed. To take life lightly and in good humour is not something that you can cultivate. Either you have it or your don’t.”

Some beautiful quotes
1. If you have the ability, or rather the gift of being able to see beauty in small things, then old age should hold no terrors.
2. There is a time to rove and a time to rest, and if you have learnt to live with nature’s magic, yuo will not grow restless.

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A Little Night MusicA Little Night Music by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book for verses from Ruskin Bond for a change instead of stories. It is as light and as entertaining as his books of stories.

Some excerpts from the book.

We are the babus
Soak the rich and harry the poor;
That’s our motto and our law;
We are the rulers of this land,
We are the babus, a merry band,
Under the table, or through the back door,
We’ll empty your pockets and ask for more!
We are the babus, this is our law –
Soak the rich and harry the poor.

What can we give our children?
What can we give our children?
Knowledge, yes, and honour too,
And strength of character
And the gift of laughter.
What gold do we give our children?
The gold of a sunny childhood,
Open spaces, a home that binds
Us to the common good …
These simple things
Are greater than the gold of kinds.

These are just two of the many wonderful poems that stuck me.

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A Little Book of HappinessA Little Book of Happiness by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very little but wonderful book. It is a delight to read the book and it gives a lot of happiness to read the book.

It is a collection of poems, quotes about happiness.

Some wonderful quotes are
1. To find happiness look halfway between too little and too much.
2. Happiness is not waiting to be found; there is no use looking for it. All we need to di to find barriers within ourselves that we have built against it. Trust – in people, in life – is a good way to begin.
3. Hold on in times of pain and strife; Until death comes, all is life.
4. To be happy you must have compassion – not only for the world, but also for yourself. And you should know that contentment is easier to attain than happiness, and that it is enough.
5. To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness – Bertrand Russell.
6. The fewer the desires, the greater your happiness.
7. All suffering there is in the world comes from desiring only myself to be happy . -Shanthideva
8. Happiness is not the opposite of sorrow. They co-exist; in that acceptance we take the first step towards inner peace.
9. Happiness always lingers with unhappiness. They are two sides of the same coin. When the whole coin drops from your hand your are neither happy nor unhappy. – Osho
10. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. – Dr. Seuss
11. From a Bhutanese book of wisdom. Do not chirrup too much about your happiness, and do not whine too much about your unhappiness. Which makes me think happiness shared is an act of compassion; happiness flaunted is an act of violence.
12. Why should we build our happiness on the opinions of others, when we can find it in our own hearts?
13. Sometimes there is greater joy in gazing at a mountain than in climbing it.
14. Each one of us is a mass of imperfections, and to recognize and live with our imperfections makes for an easier transit on life’s journey. [ I would add if we can live other’s imperfection it makes life extremely liveable]
15. Life rarely plays by the rules. Before you say “What did I do to deserve such misfortune!” think of all the times you found happiness when you have done little to deserve it.

The book is full of such wonderful pithy statements.

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Night Train at Deoli: And Other StoriesNight Train at Deoli: And Other Stories by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic Ruskin Bond. The stories are simple yet touch one’s heart and makes one yearn for the peaceful, serene hills.

In the story of the leopard the author describes how he builds a silent relationship with the leopard with each respecting the other’s presence without malice. And then come the hunters asking for if there is a leopard and they manage to snare and kill it. On their way back the meet the author and tell him with all pride that they have hunted down the leopard. The author ends the story with these lines “I walked home through the silent forest. It was very silent, almost as though the birds and animals knew their trust had been violated. I remembered the lines of a poem by D. H. Lawrence; and, as I climbed the steep and lonely path to my home, the words beat out their rhythm in mind: ‘There was a room in the world for a mountain lion and me’. Man no longer seems to think so. It is sad that man wants to have all land for himself.

In the story ‘Kitemaker’ the author describes an old kite maker, who is longer in demand, use his skills to entertain his grandson. Watching his grandson closely the Kitemaker is gladdened “to watch the small boy at play in winter sunshine, growing under his eyes like a young and well-nourished sapling putting forth new leaves each day.” The author opines there is a great affinity between trees and men. We grow at much the same pace, if we are not hurt or starved or cut down. In our youth we are resplendent creatures, and in our declining years we stoop a little, we remember, we, stretch our brittle limbs in the sun, and then, with a sigh, we shed our last leaves. The old man was like the banyan, his hands gnarled and twisted like the roots of the ancient tree. The young boy was like the mimosa planted at the end of the courtyard. In two years both he and the tree would acquire the strength and confidence of their early youth.

In the story “Death of a Familiar” the author relates about how the death of an acquaintance leads the protagonist to reminiscence about the relationship that he hand maintained with the one who was murdered earlier in the life. At one place he describes the victim thus “He was a product of the partition, of the frontier province, of Anglo-Indian public schools, of films Indian and American, of medieval India, knights in armour, hippies, drugs, sex-magazines and subtropical Terai. Had he lived in the times of Mughal, he might have governed a province with saturnine and spectacular success. Being born into the 20th century, he was but a juvenile delinquent.”
At the end of the story the author has this to state about interest humans take in a life lost to violence. “Though murder cases usually get reported in the papers, Sunil was a person of such little importance that his violent end was not considered newsworthy. It went unnoticed, and Maureen could not have known about it. The case has already been forgotten, for in the great human mass that is India, hundreds of people disappear every day and are never heard of again. Sunil will be quickly forgotten by all except those to whom he owed money.” A sad state of affairs and we call ourselves humans and talk about “humanity”. Humanity is an irony.

A must read for all Ruskin Bond fans and a good read for the others.

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Stories Short and SweetStories Short and Sweet by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To keep the review Short and Sweet, it suffices to say the stories are Short and Sweet. Some of them like the Tiger in the Tunnel, really leave an sweet impression on the reader. Overall a mellifluous flow of stories.
Read it to enjoy it.

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Best Indian Short Stories - Volume-1Best Indian Short Stories – Volume-1 by Khushwant Singh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some of the stories are good while some, in my opinion, are rank bad. The authour seems to like the story teller Qurratulain Hyder very much. There four stories of this writer and for some reason I did not like any of them.

The best story in my opinion was the story A Tale of the hijras by Abdul Jabbar, where a hijra rejected by her parents comes back to her village on the occasion of the birth of a grand child to her mother. How she aspires to go back to live with her parents and how she turns back considering the reaction of the society.

The short story The Leopard by Ruskin Bond is another highlight. He describes how he used to pass through a forest where a leopard lived and how he could here is growling and how on occasions he had, had a glimpse of it. This tranquility is broken when shikaris come to the jungle as the leopard skin sells for 1000 rupees in Delhi. They lay a trap for it and soon hunt it down and triumphantly take it away. As he walks away from the rejoicing shikaris he feels that the whole forest has fallen silent, almost as though the birds and animals knew that their trust had been betrayed. He goes on to say in a very sarcastic way “And God gave Man dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”. A very sad story which repeats even today, only the scope has increased be it whales hunted by Japan, or seals hunted in Canada, or rhinos and elephants in Africa and India and Tigers in India. Man has no scruples and no heart.

Ramblings on the Beach by Kiran Bedi, yes the very same Kiran Bedi surprisingly made for delightful reading. He speaks about how the society corrupts the children. He says how he tried to bring up his daugther to be brave, not be afraid of the darkness and of the sea. But all this changes when they start going to school where the other children, thanks to the elders in their family, scare his daughter’s wits so much that she starts clinging to him telling him about a Buddi Mai who is out to catch the children. He observes how the schools uses fear to make the children behave, fear of ridicule, fear of punishment, fear of humiliation. He observes that the elders do not want children to behave, but only to conform. He observes that bit by bit the elders kill what makes each child distinct from others. He observes that the children are told “all good children go to heaven. And good children are children who think like other good children. The best children, of course, win races and comes first in class. Try to be like them. He also says that he feels sad for his daugther as he can do nothing much for her as he cannot isolate her from the society in which she has to live. He also observes how introverts suffer more in this society. He quotes a Zen poem
Children are Masters of Zen,
Curious about everything.
Adults are serious and boring,
What happened?

Flight 303 by Suresh Chopra is about how a man comes to riches, thanks to his ability to pick locks. It is a fine story with a good twist.

Others are just OK or rank bad.

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