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Tales of Fosterganj by Ruskin Bond

Read the book between May 31st ,2019 and June 5th, 2019

Edition Details:
Format: E-book
Page Count: 142
Publisher: Aleph Book Company PVT Ltd
Price: 299 (Freely available on Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading)

Tales of Fosterganj by Ruskin Bond
Tales of Fosterganj by Ruskin Bond

First Sentence:
Straddling a spur of the Mussorie range, as it dips into the Doon valley, Fosterganj came into existence some two hundred years ago and was almost immediately forgotten.


It's 1961. A writer comes to Fosterganj on one of his walks from Mussorie and decides to stay there. He had come to Mussorie from Delhi for a vacation but was attracted by the quietness of the town.

I didn't quite know why i was attracted to the place- but it was a quaint, isolated, a forgotten corner of an otherwise changing hill town; and i had always been attracted to forgotten corners.

It seems perfect place for him to stay and write. Nothing much happens in Fosterganj so there are no distractions for him. And so he thought.

But then things are always not what they seem.

Soon the writer finds out that there is plenty that's happening at Fosterganj. He soon gets involved in the life of locals- some of which are weird and some of which are mysterious. And thus the writer gets to experience things which he wouldn't have if he had not made the decision to stay.

What did the writer find in Fosterganj? How did his stay went there?

You'll have to read the book to find that that out?

Main Characters:
Melaram- teashop owner at Fosterganj
Foster - A drunkard who used to live in Fosterganj. He claimed it was his grand father who first settled here.
Hassan - Owner of a bakery at fosterganj. He also gave room to the writer
Professor Lulla - A recently retired professor whose hobby was to attend funerals
Vishaal - Local Bank Manager
Negi - Cashier at the bank
Suresh - Peon at the bank
Sunil - A pick-pocket
Rattan lal- Guy who used to sell Sande ka Tel
Bhim aka Lucky - A twelve year old Boy who used to live in Fairy Glen Palace
Buddhoo - A 12 year old boy who had come to help the writer and Sunil in their expedition

My take:

In tales of Fosterganj Ruskin Bond takes you back to 1961. Set in a fictional town named Fosterganj Tales of Fosterganj has an autobiographical flavour to it. Ruskin has set this town near Mussoorie where he actually lives so the setting seems as real as it can get.

The book is full of interesting characters and it's fun to meet them. The one i especially liked were the town drunkard Foster and the pickpocket Sunil. The parts featuring them were particularly enjoyable.

The book is divided in to short chapters highlighting a particular event occurring in that area. As the story progresses the events start unfolding and you are glued to the book. You want to know what would happen next. There are parts of book which have elements of horror, mystery and thrill in them which i was not expecting and were a pleasant surprise.

Since the book is set in 1961 so there are parts which talk about the political environment of that particular time. We get to see the effect of partition in one of the chapters. It's heart wrenching. We get to see how the politics with China had created sensitive situation near Chakrata, Uttarakhand.

Frankly,I was not aware of these things. I used to think effects of partition were usually confined to  border areas in Punjab and West Bengal. This is the first time i have read about it's ripple effects extending till Uttarakhand. Although, Tales of Fosterganj is a fictional work but the way the event has been mentioned, it seems that it was inspired by true events. I would like to know more about them. The same is the case with the part relating to China. I was intrigued by these two events.

The writing is beautiful. It's simple, not overly ornate, and yet it's interspersed with lines which are deep. I have always liked this kind of writing which makes you believe that you don't have to unnecessarily complicate things. You can write evocative lines without being too fancy. I have liked R K Narayan because of this and i'm liking Bond because of the same reason. I have not read much of Ruskin Bond, but the little bit that i have read i have admired this thing about his writing.

Although, i enjoyed every aspect of it but there was a part regarding which i had some doubts. In the book we read about a bird which was like no other bird. It was big and dark and it was present in places where something bad was happening or was about to happen. I felt that there were some thing supernatural about it. But we are just given a hint regarding that and nothing is made clear. What was the deal of that bird? What did you think of it? If you know then do tell me in the comments.

All in all Tales of Fosterganj, with it's slew of interesting characters, is  a very enjoyable read about an idyllic town.  It's a  light and breezy read which would bring a smile to your face when you'll finish it. If you are from a  small hill station, like me, then you'll definitely feel that  you have just visited home.

I enjoyed visiting Fosterganj with the writer and i hope you would too.

Quotes from the book that i liked:

Those were the days of simple living. You don't see two-rupee notes any more. You don't see walking sticks either. Hardly anyone walks.

He clearly needed the two rupees which made me feel less foolish about spending money that i should have held on to. Writers were poor in those days. Though i didn't feel poor.

In due course, life returned to normal, as it always does in India, post earthquakes, cyclones, riots, epidemics and cricket controversies. Apathy or lethargy, or a combination of the two, soon casts a spell over everything and the most traumatic events are quickly forgotten.

Tucked away in a fold of the hills, its inhabitants had begun to resemble their surroundings: one old man resembled a willow bent by rain and wind; an elderly lady with her umbrella reminded me of a colourful mushroom, quite possibly poisonous; my good baker-cum-landlord looked like a bit of the hillside, scarred and uneven but stable. The children were like young grass, coming up all over the place, but the adolescents were like nettles, you never knew if they would sting when touched. There was a young Tibetan lady whose smile was like the blue sky opening up.

Writing is my vocation, and i have always tried to follow the apostolic maxim: 'Study to be quiet and to mind your own business'. But in small town India one is constantly drawn into other people's business, just as they are drawn towards yours.

In creating this world, God showed that he was a great mathematician; but in creating man, he got his algebra wrong. Puffed up with self-importance, we are in fact the most dispensable of all his creatures.

On a long journey, the best companion is usually the one who talks the least.

Some of the moving forces of our lives are meant to touch us briefly and then go their way. 

You have to accept people as they are If you want to live with them. You can't really change people. Only a chameleon can change color, and then only in order to deceive you.

Rating : 5/5

If you have read this book, the what did you think of this?

If you want to read this book then you can get it from the following links:

I have read other works by Ruskin Bond. You can read my views about them by clicking on the link below:
Ruskin Bond

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