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In search of a fluffy omelette

Ruskin Bond takes time off to talk about yet another story. The difference is, this one is indeed personal!



THE MAN FROM MUSSOORIE: Ruskin Bond at the Coffee Shop of Intercontinental The Grand in New Delhi Photo: S. Subramanium

At 71, many of us would be so feeble and tottering. But this no way is Ruskin Bond's story despite matching the age. His smile, his way of communication, his inquisitive queries, all seem still so infused with a childlike ease. Never could you catch him exhausted. Forcing you to think over and over again that his is the trusting simplicity of a child.

The usual connotation can be, old people and children are often alike. So he could be so. But this 1934-born well-known senior citizen from Mussoorie has been bonding with children for over four decades! With over 30 books to his name. So, it has something to do with his nature, the way he thinks, the manner he would like to relate to others. Sitting across the table with this Sahitya Akademi awardee just the other day at The Coffee Shop of Intercontinental The Grand in New Delhi, all of these and more come to the fore.

"Let me have an omelette. I love omelettes because of its stuffing. I will have the chicken one," with no inhibitions to demonstrate his likes and dislikes in public, Ruskin takes no time to get into the mood, to tell a story. Not his usual one though. For a change, it concerns the food that he likes, dislikes and "somehow manage to swallow." Hot, fluffy omelettes, as he would repeat throughout the conversation, is his favourite breakfast. A slice of bacon alongside, a toast and marmalade and phew!

Roads to Mussoorie

"Breakfast time in a small town like Mussoorie is great because you don't need to hurry up," so much so his love for an extended breakfast finds an entire chapter in his latest Rupa roll-out "Roads to Mussoorie"! Many well-heeled summer residents of Landour, up Mussoorie, would be surprised to find themselves in this latest novel bursting with anecdotes, but for Ruskin, it is a time to recall. Or thanksgiving? Of "great food at Ganesh Saili's, of fabulous sausages rolled out by Victor Banerjee" and so on.

"But what is disgusting in the hills these days is roadside dhabas selling noodles," mentions the loved author nibbling at his chicken omelette and with intermittent sips of coffee. Soon though, he recollects, with approval, those kiosks in the remote hills sell piping hot tea to balance the biting cold.

"One thing that I would never miss is a pizza," so here Ruskin would surely beg to differ with his young readers. Prawns, he loves but is sadly, allergic to. Dig deeper and the master storyteller bares a new side of him - his love for chatpata food. "I love golgappas. I can have pickles everyday, specially the mango, the garlic and shalgam ones. Vegetable kofta, drums of heaven and any lamb dish would find an eager eater in me any day," he continues as he decides to set aside the chicken omelette he has been snacking at.

"This one is not the type I want. Good omelettes are hard to come by. They need not be made in a hurry," the memory of "the best omelette in the world" made by the Rupa publisher at his house here earlier during the day is still so fresh in Ruskin's mind. Not surprising, for this one thrives on nostalgia!

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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