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The name is Bond, Ruskin Bond

On Ruskin Bond's birthday, The Welfare of Stray Dogs founder, Abodh Aras, recalls meeting his favourite author at a Mussoorie bookstore

Some years ago, we chose to go to Mussoorie for a holiday so I could meet one of my favourite authors, Ruskin Bond who had made Landour, above Mussoorie, his permanent home. I had read that every Saturday he came to the Cambridge Book Depot, the bookshop on Mall Road between 4 and 6 pm, to meet and sign books for his fans.

Aras with Ruskin Bond at Cambridge Book Depot
Aras with Ruskin Bond at Cambridge Book Depot

“What if he is out of town that day? What if he does not come only that Saturday when I am in Mussoorie?” I wondered. As back up, I also trekked upto Char Dukaan and Sisters Bazaar so I could pass Bond’s Ivy cottage en route.

The autograph
The autograph

I wonder if I would have gate crashed had I not been able to meet him at the bookshop! On Saturday, we rushed from our hotel down the Mall Road well before 4 pm, and there he was, seated on a chair at the bookshop, chatting with someone. I had not carried my entire Ruskin Bond book collection from Mumbai but had bought a book in Mussoorie and Landour, co-authored by him.

I sheepishly pushed it in front of him for an autograph; he gave a heart-warming smile and asked where I was from and what I did. I knew that he was a dog lover as he had once written this, “Stray dogs sometimes join me here. Having been a stray dog myself at various periods of my life, I can emphasise with these friendly vagabonds of the road”.

We chatted for a few minutes, and he told me how he too, was associated with an organisation based in Dehradun that looked after street dogs. I thanked him and made way for others who were waiting to meet him.

Happy Birthday, Mr Bond and to many many more, filled with good health and happiness!

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