A ‘Ruskin Bond’ Floor in Landour Clock Tower? He Doesn’t Know Yet
When I asked Bond what having a floor dedicated to him would mean, he quipped: “Would I have to settle down there?”
Rumours have been rife for a while now, that the newly rebuilt clock tower in Landour will have a floor dedicated to Landour’s beloved author Ruskin Bond. However, when I met him recently at an event in the Doon Valley, he expressed surprise – mentioning that no one had reached out to him yet.
“I have been reading about it in the newspapers though!” the author quipped with a grin.
Recent news reports have claimed that while one floor of the clock tower will be dedicated to Bond – another would be dedicated to the late Tom Alter, who was a resident of Landour and had protested against the demolition of the clock tower in 2010.
What Does Bond Feel About Having a Floor?
Bond, who has been the presiding “author in residence” in Mussoorie since 1963, said that it would be wonderful to have a floor dedicated to Tom Alter.
He had shown a lot of feeling when the tower was brought down. I remember that he had staged protests too. I had remained quiet.
I asked him what he thought having a floor dedicated to him would mean?
I’m not clear about it at all. Would I have to spend a few hours there or perhaps it’ll just have my books, and the story of my life in Mussoorie over the years?
“Am I supposed to settle down in the building, then?” he asks me with a twinkle in his eye.
Bond does believe that the tower has come up very well and that it adds to the charm of the picturesque hill station.
A floor dedicated to Ruskin Bond would indeed be a wonderful honour for the resident author of Mussoorie for the 54 long years that he has spent in the hill station. However, informing him beforehand and discussing it with him would be well in place. The many awards he has won, the innumerable books he has written and stories of his life and times in Landour can be a part of this museum.
A Little History...
The Landour Clock Tower was built in the late 1930s by Ugra Sain Verma. At the place where the clock tower was situated, a police station guarded the border of the civil area and the cantonment in 1892. The police station was shifted later and a shop of stone masonry took its place.
The council bought the place for Rs 300 as a stand for hand pulled rickshaws.
The very first clock tower of the hill station, though, was built at St. George’s College in Mussoorie. JB Joyce & Co, the famous makers of high-class Church and Turret clocks, installed the clock there. The Westminster Chimes echoed in the adjacent forest and kept the wild animals away from the school. The clock became popular and the administrators of Mussoorie suddenly had an idea that another public clock for the town would be immensely valuable, especially as very few people had wrist watches in those days.
Back in the day, it also served the English soldiers on their way to various churches in the town.
(Dr Jaskiran Chopra is a senior journalist and author based in Dehra Dun. She also teaches university students.)
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