First Read of 2021: A Gathering of Friends by Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond is one of my favourite writers. In this collection, he selects his own favourite stories over the years. The selection begins with an extract from his first published book, Room on the Roof, which was a prescribed text for my sister, Nitu didi, and which was my introduction to Bond. This was in the Eighties when Bond was not as well-known as he is today and so any mention of him would make people quip: We have only heard of James Bond. Thankfully, the author has come a long way from those days of obscurity.

Fittingly this collection begins with an extract from the novel in which the young boy Rusty plays holi with his Indian friends. In the other stories of the collection we meet people who have been immortalized by Bond: the girl on the platform; the grandfather; the old lonely lady who gifts a book to a young boy; the woman in a pink saree on the swing; the beautiful female bluebeard…

My favourites were Panther Moon in which a panther on the prowl makes it difficult for a young boy to attend school and Remember This Day in which Bond recollects a day that he spent with his father in Shimla.

Bond’s stories evoke the Himalayan hills, the deodar trees, the smoke that rises from the wood-fire, the danger and charm of the wildlife, and the lonely and not-so-lonely people who inhabit the hills.

A good collection to begin the year.

*

First Line: Over fifty years ago, in a world that no longer exists, a young man in India decided that he wanted to be a writer, a novelist to be precise.

Publication Details: Delhi: Aleph, 2015

First Published: 2015

Foreword: David Davidar

Pages: 244

Source: DSPL [823B64G]

Other Opinions: Inside Out; The Whimsy Bookworm

4 thoughts on “First Read of 2021: A Gathering of Friends by Ruskin Bond

  1. It’s always so nice, isn’t it, when a collection lives up to your hopes. And I think you’re wise to start the year with an author whose work you really like. One’s more likely to be optimistic about the year’s reading that way.

    Liked by 1 person

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