Bond with children

With Adrian Joseph David, Sanjana Patnaik

Well-known Children’s writer Ruskin Bond was in Chennai launching his latest book. He enthralled the children during his humorous interaction with them.

In Bhubaneshwar, a group of tiny little boys were dancing the hip-hop. A silent spectator who terribly wanted to join them in their dance was Ruskin Bond! The presence of a few teachers and parents deterred him from dancing the hip-hop with them. But what he did was, he put himself as one amongst them in his poem titled ‘The Hip-Hop Nature Boy’!

This was the tiny little story, with which Mr. Ruskin Bond introduced his new book at Landmark, Nungambakkam, Chennai, on the evening of 8 June, 2012. His latest book titled ‘The Hip-Hop Nature Boy and Other Poems’ was launched on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Landmark and Penguin Books India.

The illustrated book holds within its covers, old and new poems on everything right from nature, love, friends to school, and books. The audience consisting of three different generations, waited with enthusiasm for Ruskin Bond’s arrival.
On his arrival he was greeted with applause and namaskarams. His witty lines and ready smile put everyone immediately at ease. “Well, I thought there was going to be a cake to cut. But where is it?” he smiled and the kids joined him, which later broke into a laughter.

He then unveiled his new book to and read out some of the poems in it to the eager audience. The kids were extremely delighted with one of the poems which goes like “If a tortoise could run And losses be won, And bullies be buttered on toast; If a song brought a shower And a gun grew a flower, This world would be nicer than most!” He went on to read ‘The Hip-Hop Nature Boy’ and then sat down to a shower of questions by the little kids and the older ones as well.

“What are the two most essential things that a person must have to become a writer?” one asked, to which he promptly replied “Pen and paper!” Then a young boy wanted to know where Ruskin got his ideas from to which he replied that most of his ideas came from observing the world and the people around him, and sometimes, even from his dreams!
The next questioner wanted to know Ruskin’s opinion about sharing his last name with the fictional James Bond. Interestingly Ruskin did have an uncle named James Bond! “But he was not a secret detective. He was just a dentist!” he said. He even wrote an epitaph for him which read “Stranger, approach this spot with gravity. James Bond is filling his last cavity!”

He then talked about Uncle Ken who apparently was his real Uncle! “My poor uncles always got included in one or the other of my stories,” he said.
One among the audience wanted to know when he would write a mystery or a crime story. “I already wrote one a long time ago. But the problem was, the readers found out who the culprit was in the Third Chapter itself!” he said.

Bond had an important tip for young writers. “Maintain a journal and write down every character and
everything that you see or hear each day. It will help you later with your stories,” he said to the young faces which were filled with rapt attention.
After this interesting session, Ruskin Bond cut the cake along with a whole lot of children alongside him. He personally signed each child’s copy of “The Hip-Hop Nature Boy and other Poems” much to the delight of the children present.

Adrian Joseph David writes:
I had been to Landmark, Nungambakkam on June 8, 2012 to witness the arrival of children’s author and poet, Ruskin Bond in Chennai. It was an event to commemorate the silver jubilee of Landmark book store and Penguin Publishers. I reached there at 5.30 p.m. an hour before the program hoping to catch the first seat but to my surprise, almost all the seats were occupied by people eagerly waiting to see the good old man.

A senior woman in the audience mentioned that she used to read his books when she was young and now her kids have started reading his books too. Bond also said that anyone can be a writer regardless of the background of his/her profession.
Another senior citizen said that Ruskin Bond is an upstart to James Bond which was also written by
renowned children’s author, Ian Fleming.
There was no age limit for his fans as there were people from their 6’s to 60’s. It was a memorable evening with the author.
If you haven’t read his stories or poems, I must recommend to fetch a copy and start reading as it involves fun, solitude, kindness and the beauty and glory of nature.

Sanjana Patnaik writes:

The famed author who turned  78 on May 19 this year,  has gifted his fans a brand new collection of verses and rhymes especially meant for children by the name of ‘Hip Hop Nature Boy’. Written in his unique style the verses go somewhat like this, “If a tortoise could run and losses be won, and bullies be buttered on toast; If a song brought a shower and a gun grew a flower, this world would be nicer than most!”

After a few inspirational, funny and the theme poems, fans were ready to pose questions to the versatile author. A few questions and Mr. Bond’s answers:
Q:  What does it take to be an author?
A:  (pause) Pen and paper!

Q:  Does any writer need a place like Mussoorie to write a story or a poem? Because I don’t seem to get any ideas to start a story.
A:  No, I don’t think so. To write a story, you need to observe your surroundings, know what’s going  on and ideas will come flowing into your head.

Q:  What is the first thing a person needs to do to become a writer?
A: First, you need to keep the dustbin near you so that you can throw your rejects. (Laughs).  And then when you’re done, you have a completed story!

Photos by:
Nandini P S
Adrian Joseph David
Sanjana Patnaik

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