एक बुक जर्नल: Time Stops At Shamli - Ruskin Bond

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Time Stops At Shamli - Ruskin Bond

Rating: 3.5/5
Read between 27th November, 2017 and 24th December, 2017

Edition Details:
Format : Paperback
Page Count: 184
Publisher : Penguin India
Isbn : 9780140128420



Times Stops at Shamli is a collection of 21 stories by Ruskin bond. At the starting of the Introduction for his collection he says that although it's  said that real India lies in villages but he thinks that India is really to be found in small towns. The stories in this collection show that small town India where he has lived most of his life. Most of the stories in this collection take place in small towns. The stories are not restricted to any particular genre.

The stories in this collection have   love,friendship,humour, deceit,supernatural entities, in  short it has something for everyone. Ruskin loves the hills and the environment and its expressed through  stories like The last truck ride,Tiger, Tiger burning bright or even The summer season. In the summer season Visni eventually leaves the economically better life in hill station for the life in his village. In The last truck ride the main characters realise that they can do more with their life than help people who are destroying the lands. When Pritam Singh says that it was the tree that saved him and asks Nathu to remember that one could easily see Mr Bond telling its readers how important trees are for us.  The same is the case with tiger tiger burning bright where the village people at the end realise that the jungle is no jungle without the presence of tiger. They find out that it was him who was protecting their land from the hands of greedy people and with his departure their lives would be at stake too. These stories show that Ruskin Bonds loves nature and through his characters is asking people to stop exploiting it. I loved reading the stories and would definitely recommend it to others. If you like Ruskin Bond's work then you should definitely read this one. If you haven't read Ruskin yet then it's  time you start it.

The stories in these collection are:

1. Funeral 3.5/5
First Sentence:
'I don't think he should go,' said Aunt M.

The funeral tells the story of a nine year old boy. His father has just died and his funeral has been organised. The story is about how he comes to terms with the departure of the only person who he thinks really loved him. It's a sad premise but the way the boy deals with the whole situation and his thoughts at the end make it into something beautiful.
I loved it.

2.The Room of many colours 3.5/5
First Sentence:
Last week I wrote a story, and all the time i was writing it I thought it was a good story; but when it was finished and i had read it through, I found out that there was something  missing, that it didn't ring true.

An autobiographical account of 7 year old Ruskin before he moved to Dehradun. They were living  in a King's palace at that time. The palace had a girl who thought she was the queen Why did she thought so? Read the story to find out.

It was a decent story. It feels autobiographical and has a tone of something which would sound a lot better when told than it feels when its read. It has that quality to it. I would have loved to hear it being read by Mr Bond.

3.Time Stops at Shamli 4.5/5
First Sentence:
The Dehra Express usually drew into Shamli at about five o'clock in the morning, at which time the station would be dimly lit and the jungle across the tracks would just be visible in the faint light of dawn.

I have often felt what lies beyond those small stations where the train stops but no one really deboards. The narrator also thinks so. So when he comes across a station called Shamli he decides to cancel his trip to his relatives and get off at  Shamli. What happens next forms the story.

I liked the story. There were elements in it which made me think that it had some supernatural quality but that was not the case. I couldn't understand why did the guy driving the tonga told the narrator that if he didn't leave Shamli he wouldn't be able to leave it for ever. He may have been joking but it felt something out of a horror movie. What were your thoughts about it? Do tell me? Although this story has increased my interest in getting off from train at such unknown small station. Maybe i'll do it someday and it would be an adventure to write about.


4. Most Beautiful 3.5/5 
First Sentence:
I don't quite know why i found that particular town so heartless, perhaps because of its crowded, claustrophobic atmosphere, its congested and insanitary lanes, its weary people..

When narrator meets Suresh  he was being tormented by the local boy. Suresh was not like other kids. He was physically deformed and seemed mentally challenged. The narrator saves him and that develops in to a friendship. And when after a friendship of few months narrator has to leave the town, he feels hes also leaving the most beautiful boy. What happened during this interval forms the story.

It's said that beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. If one feels connection with someone then that someone automatically becomes beautiful for the person. This story demonstrates that. It shows if relationship is beautiful then the people involved in the relationship become automatically beautiful and their physical attributes are not that important.

5. The Last Truck Ride 3/5
First Sentence:
A horn blared, shattering the silence of the mountains, and a truck came round a bend in the road.

The had started normally for Pritam Singh, the truck drive and his cleaner,Nathu. They had a few rides to make in the day and had then plans for night. But they had no idea  that the day was not going to end normally for them. It was going to be their last ride.

I liked reading this story especially the way Nathu and Pritam Singh's relationship was portrayed. Their exchanges were fun to read. Apart from it the end where our main characters realise the importance of trees also touched me.


6. The Fight 5/5
First Sentence:
Ranjit had been less than a month in Rajpur when he discovered the pool in the forest.

All that Ranjit wanted was to enjoy a swim in the pool, but it seemed the other boy didn't want it. The other boy, Suraj, thought the pool belonged to him and Ranjit had no business coming there. As Ranjit,didn't agree there was only one thing they could do fight and let it decide who'll be the ruler.

It's a beautiful story. It took me back to my child hood. I remember such fights that we used to do and which ended up just like in the story. There were moments that made me laugh and also made me think. I have always thought as a child we are more animal like in our instincts. We tend to be more impulsive, more violent but more innocent too. As we grow we tend to control these tendencies but loose our innocence in the process too. This is the  reason why children may fight often but they tend to forget it as quickly as they fight while adults when fight tend to harp on it for a much longer time. I loved the story.


7. The tunnel 3/5
First Sentence:
It was always noon, and the jungle was very still, very silent.

Ranjit wanted to see the train coming out of the tunnel and so he went there. But the tunnel is much more enigmatic than he has envisioned. He meets someone there and that person will share that secret with him.

It was good story. There are often people in our lives who are important for our existence but more often than not we are not aware of their existence. They are the people who are manning the things which we often take for granted. But they too have lives and they too have stories. The boy learns it by forming a friendship with one such person and i would say that was lucky for him.



8.The summer season 3.5/5
First Sentence:
It was in the spring that Visni presented himself at the Roxy cinema and asked for a job.

Visni had come to the hill station for the job. It was summer season and he knew could get the job at the Roxy Cinema, the only cinema hall at the hill station. He knew he could make a living there. Was he able to get the job?

Every year thousands of people come to the cities from their villages. Visni is one such boy. The hills may be beautiful but the lives of people living their is hard. The story shows that. Visni's decision at the end seems to be too romantic. I'm from garhwal and have known people like Visni. I'm one of them who have left the village in search of better livelihood. It's a beautiful story that makes you feel good. I wish it was true for most of us but alas such is not the case.May be after a certain age when one has earned enough, only then one can take the step that Visni takes but before that it would be just foolishness. At least, that's what  i think.


9. Going Home 3/5
First Sentence:
The train came panting through the forest and into the flat brown plain.

Daya Ram was returning home from Haridwar in a train.He has to go till Dehra in train and then walk back to his village from there. But in the train his purse of valuables falls out from the window and he has to stop in the next station and walk back to retrieve it. T he she journey seemed simple enough but wasn't so.  What happened to Daya Ram and how he dealt wi,th the situations that came across his path forms the story?

It was an interesting read. Daya Ram is a happy go lucky guy and i liked his attitude. He's one of those people who don't get much tensed about bad experiences. I liked him.Although, the way his wife was described i would have love to know what happened when Daya Ram eventually reached home.


10. Masterji 3/5
First Sentence:
I was strolling along the platform, waiting for the arrival of the Amritsar express, when i saw Mr Khushal, handcuffed to the policeman.

When the narrator sees his hindi teacher after a long period of time he's surprised to see him being handcuffed.He's being escorted by two policeman. What could have the teacher done to deserve this? He seemed so innocuous at the school. The narrator has this urge to know more about him. Did he find out? You'll have to read the story for that.

It was fun read. The most entertaining part of it was the way story ends.I don't know how would i have reacted if i would have been in narrator's place. It surely made me chuckle.

11. Listen to the wind 3.5/5
First Sentence:
March is probably the most uncomfortable month in the hills.

It was raining and the narrator had come to visit Miss Mackenzie. There was hill, called Burnt hill, opposite to where Miss Mackenzie lived. When the narrator sees the hill, in a flash of lightening their talks turns to the subject of the burnt hill. Miss Mackenzie feels the burnt hill is haunted. Why did Miss Mackenzie thought the hill to be haunted? Read the story to find out.


It was a good story.It was a good story. I could relate to the story as i often heard such stories regarding the various places near my village. The haunting and haunted places are more common in hills especially in villages than one would imagine. I don't know whether those stories are true or not but it does makes going near more  exciting.


12. The Haunted Bicycle 4/5
First Sentence:
I was living at the time in a village about five miles out of Shahganj, a district in east Uttar Pradesh, and my only means of transport was a bicycle.

In the evening the narrator was returning from Shahganj to his village when he saw a little boy in the middle of the road. It was soon going to be dark and sensing that the child could be in danger he decides to give the child the lift to the village on his cycle. What happens next forms the story?


I'm a sucker for a story dealing with supernatural and so i loved it.  Though, i think the title wasn't apt for the story.

13. Dead Man's Gift 3.5/5
First Sentence:
'A dead man is no good to anyone,' said Nathu the old shikari as he stared into the glowing embers of the camp-fire and wrapped a thin blanket around his thin shoulders.

Nathu, the old hunter, Ghanshyam Singh, the guard of the rest house, and the narrator were sitting around the log fire. They had returned from a tiring day in the Terai hill near Haldwani and were now talking around the fire. Nathu and Ghanshyam were discussing the suicide that happened in the neighbouring village when Nathu proclaimed that a dead man was no good to anyone. Ghanshyam didn't think that was the case and had a story to prove that. What was the story? Well, you'll have to read the story to find that out.


It's a dark tale that much i would say. I enjoyed reading it.

14. Whispering in the Dark 3/5
First Sentence:
A wild night, wind moaning, trees lashing themselves in a frenzy, rain spurting up from the road, thunder over the mountains.

It was a wild and stormy night when the narrator seemed to lost his way in the forests. He was drenched and was looking for a shelter when he saw a dilipidated house. Initially, surprised by it's presenece in the midst of the forest he decides to stay in the house. But things are often not as they seem. The narrator finds that out soon when he finds that the interior of the house is unlike the exterior. The house that seemed desereted from outside doesn't seem so from the inside. It looks well cared for. The only thing missing is the person who cares for that house.The narrator decides to spend the night there. Was it a good decision? Read the story to find out.

The story has a supernatural element in it which made it gripping read for me. I liked it. Although, i kept wondering what was narrator doing in the forest in such a weather? Iwouldn't have ventured out from my home in such a weather.


15. He said it with Arsenic 4/5
First Sentence:
Is there such a person as a born murderer - in the sense that there are born writers and musicians, born winners and losers?

Can one be a born killer? The writer belives if one can be a born singer, born writer or born painter then it's highly possible that one can have an aptitude towards killing. The writer knows it's highly possible and he thinks he knows a person who could fit the bill easily. The person is called William Jones. Who is this William Jones? Why does writer thinks he's a born killer ? You'll have to read the story to find out.

The first sentence of the story was enough to pull me in. I have often wondered over the same topic but i often use the term predator instead of killer. I really think there are people in this world to whom comes as naturally as eating. So, when i saw the story dealt with this subject i had to finish it in one go. I must say it was a great read. There is moment near the end of the story which made me chuckle. Also, i liked the tone that Mr Ruskin Bond has used in narrating this one. It's kind of light and frothy while the tale in itself is very dark. Loved it.


16. The Most potent Medicine of All 3/5
First Sentence:
Like most men, Wang Chei was fond of being his own doctor.

Wang Chei wasn't feeling good. He felt the stomach pain wasn't going to take his life. His wife was also worried about him. They felt even Lu Fei, the physician whose book they consulted for such ailments, had failed them. Would he able to get better? How will he do it?

It was a weird story for me, especially the end. It was beautiful yet horrific for me. Saying more would reveal the story so it would be better if you'd read it for yourself. Do tell me, what did you think of the end? Also, i wonder how come he used Chinese characters here? I guess this is the only story is this collection where he does that.



17. Hanging at the Mango-Tope 3/5
First Sentence:
The two captive policemen, Inspector Hukum Singh and Sub Inspector Guler Singh, were being pushed unceremoniously along the dusty, deserted, sun-drenched road.

Inspector Hukum Singh and Sub Inspector Guler Singh's fate was now in the hands of dreaded dacoit Mangal Singh Bundela. Mangal had planned something special for them. And i guess you'll have to read the story to find out what that was.

It was a good story. Readble and shows how's human nature works. Plus, it teaches one to be considerate towards one's juniors.

18. Eyes of the cat 5/5
First Sentence:
Her eyes seemed flecked with gold when the sun was on them.

Binya was angry. She was fed up of the taunts that she was subjected to because of being poor. She was in a school where if you didn't took private tutions from the teachers it meant that you'd not be promoted. And that was the reason she was being held back in 9th. She hated it. She hated the Madam who taunted her and mocked her for her penury. But what could she do? Or could she? Read the story to find out.

I have come across cases where these kind of private tutions were mandatory for students. In my home town it was usually government school kids who had to go through that. So i could relate to what Biniya was going through. I loved the story and the way Binya's character was developed. I wish Ruskin ji would have written a novella or a novel around her. I would have loved reading that.

19. A Crow for all Seasons 3/5
First Sentence:
Early to bed and early to rise makes a crow healthy, wealthy and wise


Speedy believes the adage that Early to bed and Early to rise makes a crow healthy,wealthy and wise. He is a town crow who lives in  a jack fruit tree along with other crows. They all have shared areas the neighbouring houses among themselves. The crows take what they can to survive from their designated areas. And Speedy and his cousin slow have got the bungalow that belongs to the colonel. Although life is good for Speedy but he has his nemesis in Junior Sahib who lives with the colonel. Junior Sahib hates speedy and wouldn't think twice before killing him if he can lay his hands on him.
This is the story of Speedy and his adventures. Will Junior Sahib accomplish what he desires? Will Speedy survive?

I liked this story. The story is in first person and Mr Bond has told it from a viewpoint of a crow. One can see that he was having fun while writing this story which makes it fun piece to read too.


20. A Tiger in the House 3.5/5
First Sentence:
Timothy, the tiger cub, was discovered by Grandfather on a hunting expedition in the Terai jungle near Dehra.


During a hunting expedition  when the grandfather of the narrator finds a tiger cub he brings him home. They name the cub Timothy and soon he becomes part of the household. But then the tiger grows up and soon becomes uncontrollable. What happened to the tiger of the house forms the story?

It was an entertaining story with a cool ending.Although i could gauge how it'd end but nonetheless it was fun reading it. It reminded me of a similar story that i had read in my English books when i was a child. In it their was a hunter who kills the mother and finds the cub and decides to take him with him. That had a brutal ending as the cub takes his vengeance in the end. He kills someone from the hunter's family i guess. The ending is foggy in my mind. Any ways, this one is  a good story and can be read once.

21. Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright 4.5/5
First Sentence:
On the left bank of the Ganga, where it emerges from the Himalayan foothills, there is a long strech of heavy forest.


The forest once had more than 40 tigers in it but that's a thing of the past. The human greed has consumed all but one of them. This is the tiger who has escaped all the hunters and is considered most cunning of them all. But would he survive for long? Read the story to find out.

I loved the story. The writer beautifully describes the reason for the tiger to come to village to feed. The best thing about the story is the realisation that the village people get in the end and how they regret what they did. It makes us think as humans when will stop killing the ecosystem because of our greed. It's this greed that has pitted the wild animals against the humans other wise our forefathers used to live peacefully with them. I liked the way the story ended. It's an open ending and leaves it for the reader to imagine what would have happened next.

If you have read this collection then do tell me which of the stories did you like most. If you want to read this awesome collection then you can get it from the following links:
Paperback
Kindle

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