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Book review: Rhododendrons in the Mist by Ruskin Bond

There`s a tale called Panther`s Moon in Ruskin Bond`s book RHODODENDRONS IN THE MIST (Aleph Books/2019 release) a collection of the writer`s favourite tales of the Himalaya. And Panther`s Moon is a classic example of why Bond`s popularity amongst the reading public continues to thrive, to flourish, to attract newer readers.

The story  puts little Bisnu and his equally little sister Puja who live with their mother in a little Himalayan village,  at the centre of things. The village is being stalked by a man-eating leopard, and the story tracks the slow menacing patience of the feline,   juxtaposing it with the cheerful children, the hard life they live  (Bisnu has to trek up five miles up a mountain to school every day, something he does quite happily)  while giving us a close  look at the characters who reside in both the village in the valley as well as in the village up on the mountain. Bisnu`s run-in with the panther is the stuff of terror, and the reader cheers alongside the villagers when the creature is finally brought down.

Rhododendrons in the Mist is `more of the (delightful) same` from Ruskin Bond: of Himalayan hamlets, the hardy people who live there each with their own quirk, of ghosts and corporeal beings, of thefts and murders. Of wild lilies, climbing roses, aspidistras, larkspur and gladioli,  and of course,  scarlet rhododendrons wreathed by the mist and dazzling in the sunshine. Of long-tailed magpies, silent langurs, tigers, eagles wheeling lazily about in the brilliant blue sky. Of a hopeless kind of love for a hill damsel. And yes, of a beautiful blue umbrella, that Bond classic making yet another appearance in a Bond book.

Ultimately, though, at the core of all these tales are people, and very few can chronicle the everyday lives  of people like Ruskin Bond can. This is one writer from whom we relish `more of the same,` so more power to his pen/fingers/brain/imagination.

 

book reviewRhododendrons in the MistRuskin Bondtales of the Himalaya

Sheila Kumar • November 4, 2020


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