Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The India I Love by Ruskin Bond

Title : The India I Love
Author : Ruskin Bond
Publisher : Rupa 
ISBN : 81-291-0397-4

Ruskin Bond mesmerizes his readers yet again through his straight from the heart collection of prose and poems. This is his way of expressing his feelings for his beloved adopted country with all her animate and inanimate beings, their uniqueness, their character and how all these combine to create a unique flavour of Indian-ness.

In some chapters, he reminisces about his earlier days, the time when he decided to make India and specifically her hills his home and leave West for good. In his words, "The link with Britain was tenuous, based on heredity rather than upbringing.  It was more in the mind. It was a literary England that I had been drawn to, not a physical England. " 
He talks about the mountains and hills, rivers and its tributaries, various people and their idiosyncrasies.
He sprinkles the chapters with some nuggets of wisdom that he has processed over the years by observing people and his surroundings keenly.
"A well-balanced person : someone with a chip on both shoulders
Experience : The knowledge that enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it the second time
Sympathy : What one woman offers another in exchange for details
Worry : The interest paid on trouble before it becomes due"

His adroitness to write about himself with utmost sincerity and transparency becomes apparent time and again by the ease with which he packs self-mockery in his writings. His honesty and humility reach out to the readers unadulterated as he cloaks his feelings in simple yet effective language.  A slice of his humility and critical analysis of himself get reflected in these lines -
"I am not the most inventive of writers, and fantastical plots are beyond me. My forte is observation, recollection and reflection. "

Ruskin Bond's writings are so true to the soil of this country in its original form, it clearly displays his sensitivity in observing, experiencing, absorbing, imbibing and processing the Indian-ness in his system and what comes out through his pen is the essence of his relationship with the country and with everything belonging to it. 
The peace and serenity in his writings transport the readers to a blissful state of living the life in its entirety with every single moment registering its presence and with every single thing getting observed, acknowledged and appreciated in the same way as Ruskin Bond does on his solitary walks.
"I prefer walking alone to walking with others. That ladybird on the wild rose would escape my attention if I was engaged in a lively conversation with a companion. Not that the ladybird is going to change my life. But by acknowledging its presence, stopping to admire its beauty, I have paid obeisance to the natural scheme of things of which I am only a small part."

Whenever I get a chance to conduct interviews with the authors, I often ask them for their suggestions to the aspiring/budding authors. But without having directly asked Ruskin Bond, I got the answer from him in this book -
"If you, dear reader, have any ambitions to be a writer, you must first rid yourself of any notion that perfect peace and quiet is the first requirement. There is no such thing as perfect peace and quiet except perhaps in a monastery or a cave in the mountains. And what would you write about, living in a cave? One should be able to write in a train, a bus, a bullock-cart, in good weather or bad, on a park bench or in the middle of a noisy classroom.

While I was editing this review, I noticed that I have used so many of his quotes directly here. This clearly shows that no words are worthy enough to carry the essence of his writings and they are best as they are. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick

Title: Stained Glass Summer

Author: Mindy Hardwick

Type: e-book

The storyline of Stained Glass Summer revolves around a 12 year old girl, Jasmine, whose father is an artist and a photographer. Like her father, she is also obsessed by ‘art’ and dreams of being an artist like him. He in turn, fanatical about his ‘art’ and the awards he receives, is very distracted and does not care about his wife and daughter and does not give them much attention and freedom. He finally deserts them and goes looking for ‘art’ in Africa. Jasmine goes to spend her summer on her uncle’s island and finds the meaning of life there. She finds her true love- Cole, the importance of her existence – Sammy, a free environment and much more. There she tries to contact her father, who still seems to be existing only for his ‘art’ and awards and finally decides that she will stay on the island and mentor a 5 year old instead of going back to him. She also finds that true art is all about happiness and satisfaction and not only about awards.

It is basically a story of a little girl who does not receive much affection from her father, but instead does so in a clumsy 5 year old.

The author has used a 12 year old as her mouthpiece to expressively describe the events that happen in life. An adult narrator might have been more objective in the description. The book gives a profound report on what the average pre-teen feels about life.  I personally believe undue stress has been laid on the concept of ‘art’ and the little girl's attempts to be something other than what she actually is, has been stretched too far. But the emotional account of the happenings and the events gives a very deep insight of the minds of the characters and goes a long way in making the novel an interesting read.

A good one-time, leisure read indeed.