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Roads to Mussoorie Paperback – 1 June 2005
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About the Author
Ruskin Bond's first novel, The Room on the Roof, written when he was seventeen, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then he has written several novels (including Vagrants in the Valley, A Flight of Pigeons and Delhi Is Not Far), essays, poems and children's books, many of which have been published by Penguin India.
He has also written over 500 short stories and articles that have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies.
He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993 and the Padma Shri in 1999.
From the Publisher
Conversation with Ruskin Bond
I like a good sausage, I do; It’s a dish for the chosen and few.
Oh, for sausage and mash, And of mustard a dash
And an egg nicely fried—maybe two? At breakfast or lunch, or at dinner,
The sausage is always a winner;If you want a good spread
Go for sausage on bread, And forget all your vows to be slimmer.
‘In Praise of the Sausage’ (Written for Victor and Maya Banerjee, who excel at making sausage breakfasts) There is something to be said for breakfast.
If you take an early morning walk down Landour Bazaar, you might be fortunate enough to see a very large cow standing in the foyer of a hotel, munching on a succulent cabbage or cauliflower. The owner of the hotel has a soft spot for this particular cow, and invites it in for breakfast every morning. Having had its fill, the cow—very well-behaved—backs out of the shop and makes way for paying customers.
I am not one of them. I prefer to have my breakfast at home—a fried egg, two or three buttered toasts, a bit of bacon if I’m lucky, otherwise some fish pickle from the south, followed by a cup of strong coffee—and I’m a happy man and can take the rest of the day in my stride.
I don’t think I have ever written a good story without a good breakfast. There are of course, writers who do not eat before noon. Both they and their prose have a lean and hungry look. Dickens was good at describing breakfasts and dinners—especially Christmas repasts—and many of his most rounded characters were good-natured people who were fond of their food and drink—Mr Pickwick, the Cheeryble brothers, Mr Weller senior, Captain Cuttle—as opposed to the half-starved characters in the works of some other Victorian writers. And remember, Dickens had an impoverished childhood. So I took it as a compliment when a little girl came up to me the other day and said, ‘Sir, you’re Mr Pickwick!’
As a young man, I had a lean and hungry look. After all, I was often hungry. Now, if I look like Pickwick, I take it as an achievement.
And all those breakfasts had something to do with it.
It’s not only cows and early-to-rise writers who enjoy a good breakfast. Last summer, Colonel Solomon was out taking his pet Labtador for an early morning walk near Lai Tibba when a leopard sprang out of a thicket, seized the dog and made off with it down the hillside. The dog did not even have time to yelp. Nor did the Colonel. Suffering from shock, he left Landour the next day and has yet to return.
Another leopard—this time at the other end of Mussoorie—entered the Savoy hotel at dawn, and finding nothing in the kitchen except chicken’s feathers, moved on to the billiard room and there vented its frustration on the cloth of the billiard table, clawing it to shreds. The leopard was seen in various parts of the hotel before it made off in the direction of the Ladies’ Block.
Just a hungry leopard in search of a meal. But three days later, Nandu Jauhar, the owner of the Savoy, found himself short of a lady housekeeper. Had she eloped with the laundryman, or had she become a good breakfast for the leopard? We do not know till this day. English breakfasts, unlike continental breakfasts, are best enjoyed in India where you don’t have to rush off to catch a bus or a train or get to your office in time. You can linger over your scrambled egg and marmalade on toast. What would breakfast be without some honey or marmalade?
You can have an excellent English breakfast at the India International Centre, where I have spent many pleasant reflective mornings.... And a super breakfast at the Raj Mahal Hotel in Jaipur.
But some hotels give very inferior breakfasts, and I am afraid that certain Mussoorie establishments are great offenders, specializing in singed omelettes and burnt toasts. Many people are under the erroneous impression that the days of the British Raj were synonymous with huge meals and unlimited food and drink. This may have been the case in the days of the East India Company, but was far from being so during the last decade of British rule. Those final years coincided with World War II, when food-rationing was in force. At my boarding school in Shimla, omelettes were made from powdered eggs, and the contents of the occasional sausage were very mysterious—so much so, that we called our sausages ‘sweet mysteries of life!’ after a popular Nelson Eddy song.
Things were not much better at home. Just porridge (no eggs!) bread and jam (no butter!), and tea with ghur instead of refined sugar. The ghur was, of course, much healthier than sugar.
Breakfasts are better now, at least for those who can afford them. The jam is better than it used to be. So is the bread. And I can enjoy a fried egg, or even two, without feeling guilty about it. But good omelettes are still hard to come by. They shouldn’t be made in a hurried or slapdash manner.
Some thought has to go into an omelette. And a little love too. It’s like writing a book—done much better with some feeling!
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- Item Weight : 112 g
- Paperback : 125 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-8129106995
- ISBN-10 : 812910699X
- Product Dimensions : 12.7 x 0.82 x 20.3 cm
- Publisher : Rupa Publications (1 June 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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