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#LBBExclusive: Ruskin Bond Talks about Delhi Then and Now

Kasturi posted on 15 December

LBB got up close and personal with literary legend, Ruskin Bond, at the Penguin Annual Lecture 2015. We had a bunch of questions for him about Delhi and he was only too happy to answer them!

Q. How much has Delhi played a part in your life and writing?

A. I lived in Delhi as a small boy during 1942 with my father. I have memories of Atul Grove Lane where I lived when my dad was in the Air Force. In fact, I recently visited the place and surprisingly, it hasn’t changed much. Of course, Delhi has now become the publishing capital. Where initially it was Mumbai or Calcutta, all head offices are now in Delhi, which needs me to be constantly in touch with Delhi and visit fairly often.

Q. How has Delhi changed over the years?

A. When I came back in 1955 from England, Delhi had changed. There was an influx of refugees from Pakistan; there were new colonies. Delhi is like the spreading tentacles of an octopus, constantly growing with a Gurgaon or Noida. Delhi in the early days was boring. Now, it is interesting—things are constantly going on at art galleries and cinemas. We never had restaurants to eat out at before, and Connaught Place was the only place to go.

Q. Which is your favourite bookstore in the city?

A. I walk through a lot of bookstores, but what I really love is the World Book Fair. One gets to be amongst so many books and it is wonderful at a time when people are buying books online. And since, sadly, bookstores are shutting down, one gets to see more books at the book fairs.

Q. When you’re in Delhi, where do you like to eat?

A. Sadly, I’m not a foodie. Many people like to think I am but I like to eat dal-bhaat and rajma-roti. I am a big fan of fish and chips though, so any place that serves that. In fact, the place where I’m staying at currently {Hotel Ambassador} does a decent job.

Q. We will see you at JLF in Jan 2016—what can we expect?

A. I am not a big one for literature festivals. Even small places are doing them now, but I believe it is good for new writers to address a lot of people and to spread the word. I have probably been to 2-3 over the years.

Q. You said that nature inspires you and you need windows to work. Has Delhi and the city life played a part in your writing?

A. Greatly. I need the hills and the nature around to write, but I have written in the lovely parks and gardens of Delhi. Writing during the Delhi winters is also quite pleasant. Winters in Delhi are always a pleasant affair!

Going to JLF 2016 to meet Ruskin Bond? Here’s where to stay and here’s what to expect.