What’s so cool about Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond, the much-loved children's author, delights his fans at the Sharjah International Book Fair.

The Indian author Ruskin Bond. Courtesy Penguin Books
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It has been more than 60 years since he wrote his first novel, but children can't get enough of Ruskin Bond – they think the 79-year-old is "cool" and queue up for his autograph.
Addressing about 300 fans at the Sharjah International Book Fair on Sunday night, the Indian writer said: "Writers don't retire – they shouldn't retire."
What motivates him to keep writing? "My love of the language, of the written word, to create something beautiful – whether it's a poem, story or essay," said Bond. He told aspiring writers to respect language and create their own style.
Bond, who is of British descent, is most popular for his tiger tales and vivid descriptions of nature – he grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas.
"I've been lucky to grow up near mountains and streams. Writers back in the 1950s and 60s were close to nature. That's not the case now as life in cities is so rushed. In a hurry to make a living, people don't have time to admire nature," he said.
Bond wrote his first novel The Room on the Roof when he was 17 – it won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. The author of several novellas and more than 500 short stories is an avid chronicler of contemporary India. He says his work resonates with children because "the basics of life are still the same".
"Given a chance, children would like to get closer to nature," he said. "And they still play football like I did in childhood."
Bond loved it when a teenager asked him how he still remained "so cool".
His reply: "Nowadays when people ask me 'How are you?' I say 'I'm cool!', just to be with the times."
* Malavika Vettath
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