„Good morning, early bird“, says Mrs Rajasthani when I climb down the stairs early on Sunday morning. „Good Morning, Mrs Rajasthani“, say I. I yawn and try to make my unkempt hair look at least a bit decent. Mrs Rajasthani yawns as well. She only got up to fetch the milk,a boy brings in the morning. But she does not disappear back to bed before she has made me a big cup of tea and an enormous slice of banana bread. Mrs Rajasthani’s banana bread is legendary good. Everyone else is still asleep. Not even the monkey, who has the habit to jump from a peepul tree to the terrace roof with a loud bang is to be spotted. And so the terrace is all mine. I slowly sip tea and munch banana bread. Only then I turn the book around that rests on my belly. Then I turn my back to the world and travel to Fosterganj. A small village in the mountains of the Himalaya. In Fosterganj nothing ever happens and so we follow Hassan the baker, a man of great strength and many children for a while, through the streets of the village and on another walk we learn that something happened to him. We, who are just temporary visitors of Fosterganj, shyly approach the home of Foster, who listens to old songs, has no ideas of poultry and whose thirst is as unquenchable as his optimism. We meet a boy, who is no boy at all and a woman, who is unbearable sad. A hand might appear in the night but this is not for sure, for sure is: better be aware of leopards. A professor lives in Forsterganj, who is excited by funerals till he goes to his own. We get acquainted with an unlucky pickpocket and unusual bank clerk. Jewels are found and lost in nearly one breath and the writer, who took us to Fosterganj in the first place gets lost and doesn’t use his typewriter much, but tries to catch a lizard and falls into the river. Maybe this is the way to write stories. In the meantime Fosterganj remains nearly the same, even a fire is just a temporarily disruption because Fosterganj in the outskirts of the Himalaya is a place where nothing ever happened. But the time in the village is well spent and for sure, who went once will come back sooner or later. In the meantime the sun in New Delhi stands high up the horizon, the children want to play UNO but can’t find the cards and downstairs the vegetable vendors appear with their wooden cart: „Sabzi“, „Saabzi“ they shout out loud and Mrs Rajasthani comes out of the bathroom with wet hair: „Read On, she says you have to fetch onions, peas and cauliflower and maybe some aubergines if they look good, will you?“ Of course I will, Mrs Rajasthani say I, fetching my shoes and add a kilogram of apples fresh from the Himalaya, maybe from a village close by to Fosterganj, crisp and sour, exactly as I like them best.
Ruskin Bond, Tales of Fosterganj, New Delhi 2013, Rs 295.