Travel Reads: Cambridge Book Depot, Mussoorie

Let’s cut to the chase. You are a Ruskin Bond fan and want to meet him. What do you do? 

Reach Dehradun, rent a two-wheeler (INR 500-800/a day), take the two-hour drive to Mussoorie, and get to Cambridge Book Depot (CBD). 
When? Bond used to come down to CBD between 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. 
The catch? Bond hasn’t been to the store since the pandemic struck in late-March 2020. 
I was in Mussoorie on January 3rd, 2022 and followed the modus operandi detailed above. 
The scooter ride to Mussoorie from Dehradun was wonderful, as I gained height the air got colder, the vertical sights of the famed hill station gradually appeared on the left. 
Boo! Crowded!
I found Mussoorie to be no longer the scenic, quiet, nature-rich refuge as described in Bond’s books. My first thought as I parked the scooter – Tourist hell. Instead of the planned overnight stay, decided to make the trip short with a visit to CBD, followed by lunch, and some snooping around.  
Cambridge Book Depot is on Mall Road, one steep section may be a tough walk for some, the book store can be seen at the right, little pocket of a place, featuring Ruskin Bond’s profile cutouts, his books featuring prominently on the store display. 
Cosy, cosy, snuggle, snuggle 
The store’s owner Sunil Arora was polite and helpful as I picked up a selection of Bond’s works. Inside, books are stacked to the right, left, and middle, that there are two narrow passages for the visitors to explore the titles. This is not a sprawling place, more of a cosy, snuggly reader’s haven. 
Several interesting titles apart from Indian writers adorn the store. Books featuring Landour’s famous birds and trees, and chronicling Mussoorie’s history caught my eye. 
Ruskin Bond lives at walking distance from CBD, but it didn’t seem right at pandemic time to intrude his privacy and peace. So be it. So it was.  
There are some great eateries near CBD for lunch, and those who don’t mind crowds can probably set base at Mussoorie and explore. 
I may yet, revisit CBD another time, and hopefully Bond, presently 87, will still be around for a short conversation, book signing and may yet adopt me (bloated childhood fantasy). 
(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

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