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Showing posts from June, 2018

Book Review: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien is a classic fantasy novel which precedes ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and sets scene for its series. It was written before ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series.

In the 75th edition there is an introduction given with reference to ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ – you will get to know the backstory behind this and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series. The author talks about the characters that he had developed for the story, and inside the book Tolkien himself drew maps with illustrations in order to help readers to connect with the story and the setting. This novel introduces us to the world of Hobbits. Bilbo is one good Hobbit, he lives in a hole. We also see dwarves, wizards, spiders, goblins, wargs, a dragon, and some Lake-town people – the book is full of interesting but strange characters.
Bilbo and Gandalf, a wizard, are two important character of the story – though intermittent but their presence adds momentum in the narration. Gandalf slyly tricks Bilb…

Book Review: Eyes of the Cat by Ruskin Bond

‘Eyes of the Cat’ by Ruskin Bond is a short horror story. Ruskin wrote this story when a little schoolgirl told him that his stories weren’t scary enough. Well, whether this story is scary or not can be gauzed only after reading it.

This story is of Kiran: a poor girl who lives in the hill. She studies in ninth grade. In school one of her teachers doesn’t like her. She makes fun of her torn blouse, old tunic, and falling-apart shoes. Kiran’s eyes fleck with gold in the sunlight. There is something mysterious about her. After school, she is going home with two of her friends. The day has worn, and darkness is falling rapidly. The moon shines brightly over the pine and oak forest. A burning sensation begins occurring in her. She stops at a corner and takes bid from her friends. She isn’t afraid of darkness.
At night she returns home and gets into her small room. She turns into a leopard and jumps out of the window. The leopard goes into the town. By taking the advantage of darkness the…

Book Review: The Demon Driver by Ruskin Bond

The Demon Driver by Ruskin Bond is a very short story about a man who drives his car recklessly. From the title itself, you can make out that the driver is a tormentor. He doesn’t follow the traffic rules, instead of going by a roundabout; he prefers to go straight causing inconvenience to others present on the road. Well, he is caught by the traffic police and soon sent off the road as he has no license.


After getting done with his driving license, he is out on the highway and joins the hundreds of drivers driving fast. He gives a lift to one man – the man says God help you! Once back in the city, he goes round and round around the roundabout. The police call him to be off. Well, he doesn’t listen and go left and hit the wall of a neighbor. The neighbor says that the damage will cost him three thousand rupees.
After the accident, his new car is sent for repair. But his friends gather around him to say never despair. “We are all going to help you to make a fresh start.”
And next day…

Ruskin Bond Poem: At the Grave of John Mildenhall in Agra

There are many understated themes in this poem, which is about a traveller called John Mildenhall. He comes from England, and via Lahore and Ajmer reaches Agra, where the king Akbar sits.

When he is brought face-to-face with the king, the king being curios about his country begins asking him questions about his Queen and the Poet Shakespeare and the British navy which is famous for ships and strength.
Subtly, this poem draws a comparison between India and England. John liked our county so much that he didn’t opt to go back to his country. He lived and died here. But thankfully the British Raj that came after him left the country in 1947. There is also a comparison drawn between Shakespeare and Indian poets like Fazl or Faiz, and it is stated that the former is not as good as Indian poets.
In the year 1594, Visiting first Lahore And then the garden city of Ajmer, Came a merchant adventurer John Mildenhall by name From London by the river Thame. To Agra’s mart he bought His goods and baggage;…

Ruskin Bond Poem: Do You Believe in Ghosts?

This short poem by Ruskin Bond challenges the common superstition of people – do you believe in ghosts? Well, many may believe and many may not. That’s a personal thought. However, through this poem he presents an encounter with a ghost on a railway platform. The irony of the poem is that the ghost itself is asking about ghosts to the narrator. Well, when the narrator tries to sound rational, he gets the shock of his life.

‘Do You Believe in Ghosts?’ Asked the passenger On platform number three. ‘I am a rational man,’ said I, ‘I believe in what I can see – Your hands, your feet, your beard!’ ‘Then look again,’ said he, And promptly disappeared!
By Ruskin Bond

Book Review: Grandpa Fights an Ostrich by Ruskin Bond

Grandpa Fights an Ostrich by Ruskin Bond is a short story about his grandfather’s fight with an Ostrich in East Africa. Before joining the Indian Railways, he had worked for East African Railway. It was a long ago. Ruskin’s grandfather was living in a small town. However, his work was related to laying railway tracks and it was twelve miles away from the town. He would go and come back every day on a horseback.

One day his horse meets with a slight accident. Thus, he decides to continue his journey on foot. He knows the short route through mountains which can save him about six miles. Well, this short cut passes through an ostrich farm or camp. It is the breeding season. He is fairly familiar with the ways of ostriches; especially male birds are over-the-top aggressive and are always ready to attack. But he has a dog with him who can scare away any bird that may try to attack him. Soon, the dog starts chasing a hare. Grandpa shouts out to call back the dog. Meanwhile one male ostrich…

Book Review: Snails by Dibakar Barua

‘Snails’ by Dibakar Barua is a powerful story from Bangladesh, covered under the book ‘School Timez’ edited by Ruskin Bond. The story takes us back to the times of Bangladesh liberation war of 1971. Quite wonderfully a theme of war and its ramifications are incorporated into the story.

Thirty miles south of the port city of Chittagong, a chill has come down on Manpur village where men and boys of different religions gather after dusk in secret, segregated societies. There they discuss the war crimes carried out by Pakistan Army on the people of Bangladesh. They live in fear and getting their men killed by the army has become a thing of acceptance for them. In short, they are miserable.
As the story advances, it narrows down on the story of two Hindu brothers Ajoy and Bijan – they worship Buddhism. Because of the war their lives are torn apart and there are many widows that lament death of their husbands every night. Ajoy doesn’t like this lamenting. The village is in trouble because …

Book Review: On Fairy Hill by Ruskin Bond

On Fairy Hill by Ruskin Bond is a short story, quite similar to Gulliver’s Lilliput. The story is about a mysterious hill top named Fairy Hill or Pari Tibba in Mussoorie. Rumours have that on this hill resides little people like fairies.

The narrator of the story is a struggling writer who lives in a small cottage at the edge of an oak forest. At night, he often watches out for green twinkling lights. He is inquisitive to know about those lights. There is no motorable road to reach Fairy Hill, thus the lights there cannot be by humans, like lanterns or lamps on bullock carts. One summer day, he scrambles up the hill. By the time, he reaches there he is dead tired. Removing his clothes, he sleeps under the trees.
After an hour or so, when he wakes up, he finds a strange sensation in his limbs. He is nonplussed to see a very small woman or girl, hardly two inches tall, seated on his chest. She has a buttercup in her hands with that she is tingling his flesh. Soon many Lilliput type peo…

Ruskin Bond Poem: A Little Song of Love

A Little Song of Love is indeed a lovely love song which a lover is singing for his mistress. Look at the references that he is giving to her – they are of beautiful nature and birds and so on. It means the way nature moves on, similarly they should also advance. A relationship stagnant like a puddle begins reeking of stench and mildew.

Apart from the subtle appeal he is making to her mistress, there are also the words of wisdom and care that he has for her. He is anticipating that in the time of spring they should be together; she be his sweat heart forever.
Overall, the poem is lovely and straightforward. The best aspect about Ruskin’ writing style is that he puts forward simple yet engrossing content, be it a story or poem.
The wild rose is blooming And new leaves shine green, The sky when it’s open Is ultramarine.
Sleep well, my darling, Keep dreaming, stay warm, The blackbird is singing To tell us it’s dawn.
The wild geese are winging Their way to the north, And I know from their calling It…

Book Review: That Week in the Jungle by Ruskin Bond

Whenever young Ruskin goes to jungle with a group of shikaris on expedition, he stumbles upon books. This story is also based on the similar lines. In the winter of 1944, Ruskin Bond was eight years old when he went to the jungle on an expedition with his mother and stepfather. Today this jungle is known as Rajaji sanctuary, located between Hardwar and Dehradun.

Ruskin doesn’t like killing of animals. Thus, he doesn’t appreciate shikaris or poachers. Well, this time he has been compelled to go on an expedition. On the first day, he is persuaded to sit on an elephant. It takes him deep into the forest. They are going deep into the forest, all of sudden a spotted deer crosses their way. Suddenly, the shikari sitting beside him begins firing at the deer. The deer struggles for some time and then moves a few steps before flopping down in the dust. Its struggle unnerves the elephant. It turns from the spot and begins running pell-mell, crashing through small trees and shrubs. The branch o…

Book Review: Cradle Song by Deepa Agarwal

Cradle Song is a very famous short story written by Deepa Agarwal, recently this story has been covered in her new book ‘You Cannot Have All the Answers and Other Stories’. The story has been narrated through a girl’s point of view - she sounds quite concerned and attached to her mother. As you course through the story, you will begin feeling that the story holds a deep meaning for the vagaries of life, and it is a multi-themed story.

The story opens up with a proposition of number seven. Is seven a lucky number? Probably, yes. The narrator’s grandmother has given birth to seven daughters. The narrator’s mother is fourth in the order, exactly in the middle. Seven is a lucky number, but does it hold any veracity when all children are female. The narrator’s grandmother is tired of giving birth to female children but she never loses a hope. After seven girls, there comes a baby boy, and that is the time when all perceptions about her past absolve. She is now considered lucky, people say…

Ruskin Bond Poem: Remember the Old Road

This poem evokes the melancholy of past life. If you read Ruskin Bond’s books, you will get introduced to his territory that worked as a backdrop for his work. This poem throws reminiscent of Ruskin’s young life when he came to Mussoorie or in the hills of Himalayas as a child. In this poem, he has mentioned about the places like Rajpur and Jharipani – these small villages are situated around Mussoorie. As a nature lover Ruskin often goes for walking to the hills, along the streams and rivers. Well, a lot of time has changed since his youth days – he has grown old and probably cannot walk to the same hills the way once he used to do.
But still, through this poem it is expressed that despite all odds he has managed to reach up the hill. From the point, he sees the river flowing down to the plains, his old memories lay flat down in the ravine and in this beautiful moment he feels as all his teenage friends are there with him. It is a beautiful poem about the time of youth – the vagranc…

Book Review: In a Crystal Ball: A Mussoorie Mystery by Ruskin Bond

In a Crystal Ball: A Mussoorie Mystery by Ruskin Bond is a short story about a murder in which the investigation of the case couldn’t be completed because of lack of details or it was done with such precision and care that the murderer got away without any air of doubt. Well, this story has been tweaked by adding the names of Rudyard Kipling and Conan Doyle.

In September of 1912, an English lady named Miss Garnette-Orme, with good amount of fortune, was found dead in her room in Mussoorie. The room was locked from inside. Autopsy revealed that she died of prussic acid. Well, the question was how? She was interested in spiritualism and séance. There was one more lady by the name of Miss Mountstephen who too was interested in the same and they often took relish in speaking to dead ones. Miss Garnette-Orme was a chirpy lady but following the death of her father and fiancé, she turned to occult and witching.
In Mussoorie they lived together in a hotel called Savoy. People suspected they …

Book Review: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

On several occasions and festivals people tend to follow the trend of gifting; it is something inherent about humans. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry is a very popular short story about gifting by sacrificing one’s prized possessions. The story introduces us to a married couple, Della and her husband Jim (also known as James). In the story it is shown that they are poor and living in a small apartment. Well, they have two things that are their prized possessions: Jim’s gold pocket watch (he got it from his ancestors), and Della’s long beautiful hair. The eve of Christmas is round the corner. The challenge is of buying gift for each other. After minus all bills, Della can afford only 1.87 dollars – and that’s too less amount to buy an impressive gift for her husband Jim.

One cold day of December, she goes out to check about gifts. She finds everything very expensive. Upon returning home, she stands before the mirror and keenly observes her knee-length hair. She goes again out and rea…

Book Review: Fairy Glen Palace by Ruskin Bond

Fairy Glen Palace by Ruskin Bond is a short story about a ruined, haunted palace called Fairy Glen. The story takes place when Ruskin, in 1961, goes to live in Fosterganj, a small village around the hill station Mussoorie. One evening while coming down from Rajpur, Ruskin is caught in a storm. When it starts raining, Ruskin sees a ruined palace in the dark forest. Its front gate is rusted and it seems as that no one lives there since ages. Beside a gate, he finds a sentry cabin. He goes inside but the roof is leaking. Over the sentry box, Ruskin sees something weird: a bird sized between a raven and ostrich. The way bird screeched, it sent shivers down his spine. Soon, a boy comes inside the sentry cabin and asks him about his identity. Ruskin says that he lives in Fosterganj as a writer. The boy confirms that he has seen him there – Fosterganj is such a small place.

The boy takes him, by holding his hand, inside the palace from the back side. The architecture of the palace befuddles…

Book Review: Visitors from the Forest by Ruskin Bond

‘Visitors from Forest’ by Ruskin Bond is a short story about insects and birds that take place shelter during rain in the narrator’s house. When mist veils the mountains and rain sweeps the mountains, animals and birds run pell-mell for shelter. Insects, rodents, and birds find refuge from rain easily as compared to big or wild animals. The narrator of this story is a lonely writer who resides in a small cottage in a forest.

As the rain commences a bamboo beetle, one night, falls into the water jug. The narrator being a kind-hearted person takes it out. Well, after some time, it circles the above the dining table and then again falls into the water jug. He takes it out again. Third time before it lands into the water jug, the narrator covers it. Finding it closed the beetle lands in a basket full of dahlias. There it finds solace and warmth.
Many a time, a thrush sits on the window sill, but it maintains a distance from the writer. She frighteningly sings a song and whenever the writ…

Ruskin Bond Poem: We Must Love Someone

Just like his stories and novels, Ruskin’s poems, too, are simple and engrossing. As we all know that Ruskin Bond epitomizes children’s books in India, and we have been reading his stories since early days. Well, did you ever try reading poems and verses written by him? Probably no, because publishing houses take no interest in publishing poem books. For them publishing is a business, well our hero Ruskin writes poem for fun and children.

We have brought forward some of his best poems – they are for all ages, alike. This poem explores the value of love, we as humans must fall in love to have company in our lonely life. Love is a vital force in life, without it one is incomplete, and in the later phase of life one may grief like a sarus crane who has lost its partner. Love is vital, love is all we all need.
We must love someone If we are to justify Our presence on this earth. We must keep loving all our days, Someone, anyone, anywhere Outside ourselves; For even the sarus crane Will grieve …

Book Review: Tales of Fosterganj by Ruskin Bond

Tales of Fosterganj by Ruskin Bond is a full-fledged novel based on his living experience in a small town called Fosterganj. He went there to live for some time in 1961. First, Ruskin goes to Mussoorie as a tourist from Delhi. Then, one morning he hikes downhill only to find himself in a slow-paced town called Fosterganj. He liked the place instantly because of less crowd and slow-paced life. To fulfill one’s need there is everything, like post-office, bank, a mild bazaar and so on. To his relief, there are no hotels like of Mussoorie. Ruskin doesn’t like Mussoorie because of the commercial element and the crowd of tourists.

As a writer he prefers peace all around him. a place like Fosterganj with no commotion at all attracts him instantly. He takes a room on rent above the bakery. The bakery is run by Hasan, who has about a dozen children. Soon, Ruskin comes across other interesting characters of the novel such as Vishal - the bank manager; Foster - a royal descent, Sunil – a pickpo…

Book Review: The Blue Moon Day by Santhosh Sivaraj

In America people love to read about success stories, well in India people have special penchant for stories…be them any – happy or melancholic. The Blue Moon Day is one such book where you will get to know five different stories. The stories appeal to our day-to-day life problems that we see or face – in a sense mirroring the society.

Let’s discuss all stories, one by one, briefly. The first story is ‘The Pizza Engineer’; well this features Abi – a twenty-nine-year old guy – he is fat thus remains most of the time diffident. He is highly qualified but jobless. Not getting a job is a matter of frustration for him. Above all, he has grown a little pessimistic and lazy with his life. Then, he comes across Mr. Pillai – his interviewer who begins staying with him to check his overall personality and behavior and other factors. How he adjusts to the situations is worth watching and his struggle for basic things may throw you back in the past when you were much like him as a student. As th…

Book Review: The Parrot Who Wouldn’t Talk by Ruskin Bond

The Parrot Who Wouldn’t Talk by Ruskin Bond is a very humorous tale covered in the ten must-read animal stories. The story is a about a small parrot and the narrator’s Aunt Ruby. The story dates back to colonial days when it was fashionable to keep caged or lovebirds in house for chatting. The narrator is a ten-year-old Bond, staying with his grandparents in Dehradun.

One day his Aunt Ruby buys a parakeet from a bird seller despite the unwillingness of Bond’s grandparents. Aunt Ruby is notorious for tantrums, thus to avoid black tantrums, no one protested her. Since the very first day, the parrot is upset and keeps quite. Aunt Ruby tried all tricks but he, the parrot, didn’t move. In fact, one day the parrot knocks the spectacles off her nose. Angered by this act, Aunt Ruby make faces to parrot and often says that you’re no beauty! Can’t talk, can’t sing, can’t dance!
The responsibility to feed parrot now falls on the young Bond. He offers him green chilies and ripe tomatoes. They de…

Ruskin Bond Poem: All is Life

Just like his stories and novels, Ruskin’s poems, too, are simple and engrossing. As we all know that Ruskin Bond epitomizes children’s books in India, and we have been reading his stories since early days. Well, did you ever try reading poems and verses written by him? Probably no, because publishing houses take no interest in publishing poem books. For them publishing is a business, well our hero Ruskin writes poem for fun and children.

We have brought forward some of his best poems – they are for all ages, alike.This poem underlines, in short, the value of life. We must live up to it by appreciating everything that we have till death comes. We must appreciate the Mother Nature and take note of the children passing by us.
Whether by accident or design, We are here. Let’s make the most of it, my friend. Make happiness our pursuit, Spread a little sunshine here and there. Enjoy the flowers, the breeze, Rivers, sea, and, sky, Mountains and tall waving trees. Greet the children passing by, Talk …

Book Review: The Werewolf by C.A. Kincaid

There have been many stories on werewolf ever since the literature has been spawned. Well, most of the stories are either placed in Europe or Africa or some other country, it is hardly seen that a story of werewolf originating from the land of India or then Hindu Kush.

Well, The Werewolf by C.A. Kincaid is from the British Colony India. The story is of Upper Sind region, of a place called Sehwan. Sehwan is a beautiful place in winter, but rest of the year hot winds roar and drive the mercury up to 120 Fahrenheit even in the shade, and there is no relief at night. Above it, the sandflies and mosquitoes buzz all night and moonbeams, like powerful headlight, pour down on sleeper’s face making slumbering exceedingly difficult.
A train passing through the hot landscapes of Upper Sind region reaches at Sehwan station. The last coach of the train is a beautiful saloon coach with all amenities, but still it is not a cool place, where people can sleep or rest in coolness. The route to Karachi…