I loved this one as well – and so, I ‘m in !
I am so happy I bumped into this challenge on a fellow blogger’s site. This is just the kind of motivation I needed. I have been reading a bit for a while now but to have a quantifiable goal and to tick off books from your list is such a great feeling and I want to experience it. I aim to read atleast 10 books under this theme in 2012. So, here goes !
Ever since I read about “Notes from a small room” on a fellow blogger’s blog, I wanted to read it. I did not google the title, I did not ask anyone what it was about and I did not even know who the author was.
And so, I pulled along with me the better half and off we went to the library. Entering a library makes me feel so joyous that I can’t describe the feeling in words. It is what I want to do all day – walk amidst bookshelves, taking in the addictive aroma of the old books, look at the books, pull out the ones that are screaming for your attention as though they were waiting there just to be discovered by you. Every little feeling felt in the library is priceless to me. Flipping through the pages and exploring a new author earnestly, trying to remember if the book looks like one of them on your personal “recommended by a friend” list, smelling the pages again and again – Oh ! I could go on and on.
So, when we entered the library after almost 2 months, you can imagine how happy I was. I squealed with delight ! The better half looked amused and gave me a pat on my head making me feel even more awestruck and more like a child. I ran to the computer to browse the location of the book and to check whether the library had it in the first place.
Yay ! It did. And to my wondrous delight, the book was by none other than one of my favourite authors- Ruskin Bond ! And more importantly, it was NOT on loan ! Not able to find the book under the “BON” author shelf, I went around looking for the librarian who browsed through the system again and took me to the shelf where it was. I should have known it was under a separate section with many other great books.
When she pulled it out, I could imagine that book must have been in hiding waiting for me to read it. It was a relatively thin book unlike the omnibus I expected. But I liked the cover and I usually give a lot of importance to the cover as well. So I thanked the librarian profusely for finding it so quickly for me because if she had delayed a bit more, I would have burst a vein with the excitement. Doesn’t it happen to you when you want to read a book and want to do it desperately?
So, as per the earlier deal with the better half about reading the book in the library for a couple of hours (and finishing it off as well), I set down to read the same. The better half got himself a book (on business and management) and sat down to read with me. Only after the long lost enthusiasm of sitting in the library and reading the book was experienced to the heart’s content did I actually start reading the first chapter from “Notes from a small room”.
As I read the book, I realized all over again why I loved Ruskin Bond. What is it about him that makes me feel alive? What is it about him that makes me look for his section time and again? Apart from his writings involving ghosts and ghost stories that I deliberately avoid, I have read a lot of his books and yet, I can read them endlessly. I can just go back to them and find umpteen things I missed out on when I read the book last. Like, what was the colour of the geranium on his window sill, what was the tree he loved in October, which book did he write when in Dehra and what was the description of his pet cat, Suzie (was actually a male) – I just can go back and read it all over again and soak it all in only to return again.
I love his love for nature. It isn’t just an appreciation of flora and fauna that is reflected in his writings, but much more. Much much much much more. I love him for the way he totally lived his life as part of his environ, paying heed ot the teeniest of details and knowing and caring for every creature he saw, touched, smelt and heard. His senses were not just sharp but also sensitive to fine discriminations. There was practically nothing he did not write of. He wrote of why he loved shrubs, why he loved the peepul, why he thought that Devdar as deodar trees were called, was an apt name, how he would catch and throw away every beetle that entered his room so that they did not hurt themselves because of the heat from the lamp, why he chose to be a writer, how he chose to be a writer, how he felt his father’s guiding hand on him always, why he felt at ease with geraniums and on and on.
There is an honesty in his writings that I can relate to. There is a sense of aura that engulfs you when you read his books. They aren’t just books but reels of film that unfold in front of your inner eye. When I read his work, I live with him, I eat what he eats, I stay in his house and I even see every little thing he sees – right from the bright ladybird to the sars crane couple to the spotted owls to the peanut vendor – just everything comes alive. When he describes the sound made by the leaves of the trees (and he does it grandly differentiating the sounds by leaves of different trees), I can almost hear them.
I was just telling the better half that I even before I read any book by Ruskin Bond, I had a vision. I had a vision of him sitting in a house atop a hill and surrounded by pines and deodars and a window sill overlooking the hillside and a homely village. It was eerie when I read that he lived in an almost similar home. I have always had such visions for some authors – even R.K. Narayanan turned out to have written some books from the place that I had always imagined him to be in. It fills me with me a wonderful feeling and I sometimes like to believe that we are related in some way. It makes me happy to think so.
Ruskin Bond is my own Bond. So when I say “Name’s Bond”, it has to be Ruskin Bond. He is the epitome of simplicity, of having lived life closest to other forms of life. He never had a writer’s block. He only had to look out of the window or even at the window and words would just flow, his hand moving away effortlessly, the ink from his pen putting in words that go on to create indelible impressions on the minds and in the hearts of those fortunate sounds who read them.
Some of his articles and notes on his father made me tearful. It is amazing how he remembered little details. I love little details myself and like to remember each snapshot of events passed and when I read Ruskin Bond, I feel at ease. It is an amazing feeling. My own spa.
I’d recommend Ruskin Bond’s work to anyone. Notes from a small room is just like a little diary – and I loved knowing more about him.
When I put the book down, I felt happy and content. As I looked around at the others engrossed in their books, I felt lucky that I had completed mine. Only to return again.
RB, I hope to God you understand how much I love you. How much your books meant to me during my summer holidays and how I made sure I read them in the most “lavish” way with lemonade and under the guava trees at home so that I could be as close to nature when I read your books as you were when you wrote them. Someday, I want to meet you. And when I do, I want it to be on the hill-top under your favourite deodar and then we shall gaze at the sky and talk about the endlessly changing patterns.
Until then, the library will do.
Kismi Toffee Bar.
This was never just another chocolate for me. Apart from being my favourite chocolate and the one that made me appreciate the goodness of elaichi and later on coconut, it defined my childhood in many ways.
The shiny red wrapping of the bar that was so easy to un-wrap (didn’t have to ask an adult to “open” it for me) was a gleeful sight in any provision store – one that I searched for in those tall glass jars with metal lids that the shop-keepers arranged right in front of the shop on those wooden closets or sometimes in those Cadburys purple rimmed glass boxes.
I don’t quite remember how I was introduced to the chocolate though I have a strong hunch that it was my parents or my thatha. The taste was addicitive. Strong. Sweet. Just the right texture and softness for someone who just had a happy mix of milk and emerging permanent teeth. Oh, I loved it. I loved looking at it. It did not have a grand packaging but there something about it that made me want to hold it in my hands forever. I loved eating it but felt awful once I was done when the empty wrapper gawked at me.
My mother loved and still loves the chocolate. We still discuss about the little chocolates that we ate as children which sadly are no longer commonplace as they once used to be. Ma keeps mentioning this everytime chocolate or elaichi becomes part of our conversation.
Why did I love it? Why did I want 6 of it as opposed to one bar of Crackle? It had nothing to do with the number. Yes, Kismi toffee bars were cheap, very cheap. That added a certain great value to it that can’t be described. As a child, you think it is easy to buy things that can be paid in coins as opposed to notes. It was probably that. Adults kind of relented to kids who ask for “cheaper” chocolates. It kind of fitted well in the scheme of reinforcement.
Or was it the shape? If you have noticed, kismi toffee bars were never symmetrical. They have a certain bulge in a certain some location and they end abruptly. So, you can imagine the joy of having to choose the one that fitted totally inside the wrap and was long and bulging and made the chocolate look full. I remember choosing the best of the lot. I did that with mangoes too. I still do. I love doing it. It is the child in me and I wouldn’t be ashamed of myself and brand myself selfish. I am too young for that.
And then there was the coconut green version as well. It was tasty but I still remember kismi for its red coloured wrapper.
Ma always reinforced me for little things. Going to school was fun because she’d buy me honey-cake on my way back. If I was extra good or scored a 10/10 on my A-B-C-D test, I’d get a Kismi Toffee Bar as well. She’d buy one for herself and that’s what made the whole scene so magical. My mother, ma,never ate much chocolates. She chose hers carefully and still does. She doesn’t need a Godiva or Hersheys but just a pack of those old coconut toffees, lemon hard boiled sweets and lately almond coated in milk chocolate. And so when she liked a chocolate, as a kid, I termed it as “one of the best”. Those walks back from school eating cake and toffee bars are some of the most beautiful journeys of my life. No walk on the beach or trek up a mountain can give me back the feeling that overtook me (and still feel) when I walked the little uphill, crossed the road, prayed in silence when I passed by the Ganesha temple, looked at the big lorries and wondered how they could see the road when they sat up so high and then secretly wish that I was given an off from homework for that day. These will probably be another post or maybe I will never get around to writing it. I don’t think I can.
Even thatha who always bought me something on every visit used to reserve kismi toffee bars for special occassions – like when he got his salary or I passed my LKG. He celebrated every little thing with me. He used to promise me a reward with that inimitable hand gesture of a magician and with twinkling eyes that made him the most lovable grandpa in the world. As he meticulously worked his way through the multi-layered bag where each layer hid soemthing, he’d keep the suspense on by stopping in between and looking at me with that twinkle again and then delve into the layers. The euphoria and the eagerness would make my eyes well up with tears and then , the shriek ! The kismi toffee bar would steal the show.
Papa loves sweets and so he naturally loved every chocolate. But I could detect a special mention, a certain warmth when he spoke of kismi toffee bars. I think it was the flavour. It never mattered. It kind of bonded us. We shared the taste and it fitted well that he was the earning member of the family and as a child, I knew what that meant – the buyer of chocolates and just about everything. The decider. He never disappointed me. He still loves chocolates but I miss going out with him and standing on my tip-toes to see eevrything inside that Cadburys box. I miss stretching out my hands, cupped to safely hold the kismi bars.
My little hero, my brother and I shared the most awesome summer holidays ever. We used to spend time doing the most wonderful, Enid Blyton-ish summer activities that it deserve another post. What we usually would do is to collect some money ( we never got any pocket money) by asking our parents to put the small change inside our telephone shaped piggy bank. We’d then collect this money before we left for my grandma’s place (to indulge in sheer fun) and buy a variety of toffees with it. And needless to say, kismi toffee bar would end up high on our list. We shared the pride as we trotted off to the shop-keeper and order chocolates left, right and centre. As I write this, I am filled with the sense of longing for those wonderful days – days of coffeebite, mangobites, ravalgon, paan parag and kismi toffee bars; days where Cadburys bars evoked a sense of awe and the rest, sheer happiness and personified each of us.
I sometimes hear about Kismi toffee bars still being on sale but I haven’t had the fortune of coming across one.
It was so much a part of my childhood that I just had to name my blog this way. As I continue to rant about little everythings on this blog, one thing is for sure – I will always return here with a smile.
Here are some suggestions for your first post.