A rain dance in new Ruskin Bond book

New Delhi: Ruskin Bond, the shy cherubic writer who has endeared himself to children and adults alike with his stories and novels has now brought out a collection of poems – a compilation of old and new work.

"It`s a mixture of poems suitable for children. It has humorous poems, sad ones and ones on nature. It focuses on love, friends, school. It`s a pleasure to write a poem. Hope children as well as grown-ups like it", Bond told PTI admitting his favourite poem remains "The Song for Lost Friends" that he wrote years ago.

The 78-year-old author was in the city recently to launch the book as part of celebrations to mark the silver jubilee of the association of publisher Penguin and retailer Landmark with whom he shares a long-time association.

Reading from his writings – from "Love is a law unto itself/Love gained is often lost/And that is lost is found again!" to "I danced the hip-hop in the rain" in which the `Hip-Hop Nature Boy` dances `nanga-panga` in the rain with a Magarmach (crocodile) for company, the author was applauded for his easy descriptive style.

Bond says he compiled the new book based on a suggestion. "This book did not take very long as half of the poems already existed and another dozen were newly written."

The poetry book comes illustrated with cartoons. "For children, illustrations are important. They catch their attention. Cartoons are not to hurt anybody but make a point," says the author.

Accepting that he is "not a big city person", the Sahitya Akademi Award recipient who resides in Mussouri says his immediate surroundings provide him the muse to write. "Wildlife…forests…surroundings, they all have influenced me. The older you get, you have more memories," Bond told PTI.

Ruskin Bond who visited Chennai and Bangalore prior to his Delhi visit says the tour has been "tiring and rewarding".

In the national capital he visited his old home and the cinema buff also squeezed out time to pop into the Regal Cinema nearby. Incidentally, Bond`s stories "Blue Umbrella", "Flight of Pigeons" and "Susanna`s Seven Husbands" have all been converted into Bollywood films.

"I came to Delhi in the the 1940s and then again in the 60s. Today, the city has grown its branches like an octopus. I was a small boy when I lived with my father in Atul Grove lane near Connaught Place in central Delhi", he reminisces.

Calling himself as the "greatest bookworm living" Bond cites Charles Dickens and David Copperfield as his biggest inspiration during his growing up years. "A writer who is interested in people will always find stories to tell. While writing a poem just needs a few hours and it comes out spontaneously, one needs to approach novel writing with a lot of planning," he says.

During the book launch Bond used wit and humour to field questions from youngsters ranging from "Does Uncle Ken really exist?" to "Is your nickname Rusty?" The author who has written over a hundred short stories, essays, novels and more than thirty books for children in his over five decade writing career says book reading is increasing.

"It is encouraging to find young and old in the crowd here. But the fact that there are so many readers… not mine but book-lovers in general.. shows that book-reading habit is not dying. It is, in fact, increasing, given options like the e-books that encourage young people to read by adapting to new technology."