Question: What do you get when you stir into a pot - a heady mixture of magic, time travel, a foodie, historical figures, real-life places and the larger than life personae of Ruskin Bond?
Answer: A pot boiler, of course!
Set in the hill-town of Mussoorie, now famous as the home of Ruskin Bond, writer Atul Sethi and comic-book illustrator, Vikas Upadhyay, come together to stir in these diverse elements in which fact meets fiction, magic meets humdrum and adventure meets fantasy, to serve up this unique offering that, as Mr Bond says in his foreword to the book, “will thrill comic-book enthusiasts of all ages, including yours truly.”
During a holiday Nakul Sahej and his foodie friend, Kuku, stumble upon a magical book that transports them back in time to the Mussoorie of a century ago where historical events are being unfolded. They get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes political games of the British overlords vis-à-vis Maharaja Duleep Singh, ruler of Punjab. They meet Sir George Everest and Sikdar Babu, the first man to estimate with near accuracy the height of Mount Everest; and get embroiled in the conspiracies surrounding them.
A satisfying read, the comic-book format of this adventure story is sure to draw in even the reluctant reader, simmering as it is with some exotic ingredients, rajas, tigers, magic, a whacky cricket match and the much loved writer, Ruskin Bond! However, I wonder whether youngsters will be drawn to the mystical elements in the book, such as, the theory expounded by a lama, of the ever-flowing continuum of time and the countless dimensions that exist in the universe. Maybe. Maybe not.
That said, I, for one, am ready to romp with Nakul Sahej and Kuku on future magical adventures in the Garhwal Himalayas!