On our way to Landour, during this past summer vacation, we stopped in Mussoorie for a few hours. The primary reason for this break was to visit the famous Cambridge Book Depot.
Cambridge Book Depot is a local institution. It might seem like any other bookshop from the outside, but inside, there are hundreds of books piled on top of one another in every direction. Although neatly stacked, sometimes it becomes a challenge to pick out books from the bottom.
If you have a backpack, you can forget about moving around in the bookshop without toppling over the stacks. The staff at Cambridge, thankfully, is accommodating, and if you cannot find a book, they will get it for you.
The bookshop has an iconic status in Mussoorie for another reason. The famed author Ruskin Bond visits here almost every Saturday. His visits are one of the few highlights for book lovers in the region, especially for fans of his books.
A banner outside the shop advertises the meeting with Ruskin Bond. He typically arrives at 3:30 PM and signs books for an hour. The event is extremely popular, and if you want to be among the first few people, start lining up by 2:00 PM.
Obviously, all his books are avaiable for sale at the bookshop. You can carry your own copies to get them signed, but it’s a better idea to buy them in advance from the bookshop instead. We all need to support indipendent bookshops, after all. However, if you are buying the books from Cambridge Book Depot, get them in advance, as it helps keep things moving when the author arrives.
We were lucky to arrive early and thus were among the first few people in the line to meet Ruskin Bond. When I looked back after a while, I realized that the line was already double in length, and it continued to grow with time.
Surrounded by people who love Ruskin Bond, waiting for him was an exciting moment where we all got together and engaged in a little conversation, discussing our favorite books.
After an hour, finally, we got to a glimpse of Mr. Bond as he stepped out of his car. There was a sudden rush of energy that ran past all the fans who were by now feeling a little tired, hot, and sweaty.
The cameras were out, and I could hear photo clicks from every direction. Once Mr. Bond settled down, we were invited inside the bookshop to meet him, one by one.
The event is very well organized, with only one family/person allowed to mingle with Ruskin Bond at a time. We finally got the opportunity to have a quick chat with the author and take some photos with him. The pictures from that day remain some of my most cherished memories.
It’s really great that the owners of the bookshop organize this event. It allows fans to meet with one of the most loved authors of our country. And of course, thanks to Mr. Bond for taking the time to come down from Landour every Saturday (well, almost every Saturday).
An interesting bit of fact, I discovered when speaking with the bookseller, is that in the early days Ruskin Bond would sign books for hours at the bookshop. Due to his age and health issues, the time slot now is limited to an hour.
I especially loved how Ruskin Bond took the time to talk to me and was very courteous and pleasant. Unfortunately, due to several people waiting, it was impossible to have a long and hearty chat with him. I did manage to get a bunch of his books signed by him, so that was good.
Meeting Mr. Bond is one of my most memorable moments from not just my summer holiday, but the entire year.