Encyclopedia and Oxford dictionary are must-reads for kids: Ruskin Bond
Master storyteller Ruskin Bond still enjoys writing by hand, and he’s not about to slow down as yet...
AT A MEETING with Ruskin Bond, we realize that there is a simple reason why he is hailed as the master storyteller. For a moment, during our interview, the veteran writer actually convinced us with a fib about two men drowning a third man in the swimming pool of his hotel at 2 am. We couldn’t help but believe every word he said! Then again, that’s the magic about Ruskin Bond — he’s always full of stories. Based in Landour, Mussoorie, the octogenarian doesn’t use a mobile phone, and even refers to himself as ‘technologically-illiterate’. The prolific writer and author was in the city recently, to launch the English learning app, MyElsa. The author of ever-popular titles such as The Blue Umbrella, The Room on the Roof and A Flight of Pigeons engaged with Indulge in a hearty chat. Excerpts:
How passionately do you support technology, with apps like MyElsa?
I am what you might call ‘technologically illiterate’. I can say it has its advantages for younger people. However, it also has its disadvantages. So, I would urge kids to put it to good use, without misusing it.
How technologically illiterate are you exactly?
I write my stories by hand. I usually communicate personally with people. It’s not something that’s new in me. In fact, it goes back to when I was a boy. People told me, ‘you are an old-fashioned boy, Ruskin’. Back then too, I used to hate telephones. Anything technological or mechanical doesn’t go well with me, but that doesn’t mean I will throw it all into the sea. I will make use of it through its users.
Do you use a mobile phone?
No. Rakesh, my grandson, keeps one. His children have laptops and everything, and they are always with me. So I am lucky that way. But some years ago, I tried to use a mobile phone when the landline wasn’t working, as it keeps going out of order. Rakesh went and brought a phone for `5,000. And after making an effort to make a call, I finally gave up on the device.
How has your writing changed over time?
The process of writing is still the same. I once used a typewriter, but since nobody else uses it, it’s like I have gone backwards instead. I write beautifully by hand now. So, things that I write about may have changed, otherwise basically, it’s much the same.
Have you observed any drastic changes in the reading habits of kids today?
Basic human interest hasn’ t changed that much. Technology might come in, but stories of love, hate, adventure and other themes will keep attracting readers. I meet a lot of children who aspire to write, and who have even published books now. All I want to tell them is, master your writing and don’t rush into publishing something that is weak. One can always improve one’s language. Even at my age, I keep the complete Oxford dictionary, and learn new words from it. That learning process never stops. And, as long as people are reading, I am happy. It doesn’t matter how much they are reading or how they are reading. They are certainly watching out more, and this app is capitalising on that. Teaching English through a visual medium will make it more attractive.
What new reads can we expect from you this year?
I write one or two stories every month. A new book is due on the 19th of this month. It’s about my school days, my childhood memoirs. After that, there will be a collection of stories coming out in August, and then a book reflecting on my life.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment, I like reading biographies. History too interests me, but not so many novels like I used to. I prefer non-fiction now.
What is your definition of a good writer?
That’s an interesting question. It will totally be decided by the readers, 50 years after the writers are dead and gone...