When Ruskin Bond Was Asked To Pay 'Foreigner Fee' At Konark Sun Temple
When Ruskin Bond Was Asked To Pay 'Foreigner Fee' At Konark Sun Temple
Most Indian monuments have different ticket prices for Indian nationals and foreigners.

Ruskin Bond is one of the most beloved children’s writers in India. Over the decades he has penned more than 60 books for children, many of which are added as essential readings in Indian schools. Thanks to his contribution to Indian literature, he is the recipient of prestigious civilian awards like Padma Shri in 1999 and Padma Bhushan in 2014. One hardly questions the credentials of Bond as an Indian national. However, those unfamiliar with his work often mistake him for a foreigner because of his British descent.

Bond turned 90 years old on May 19, last Sunday. In an interview with PTI, he looked back at many instances from his life. The Susanna’s Seven Husbands writer revealed that one time he was asked to pay the foreigner fee at the famous Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha. Bond recalled, “They charge extra from foreigners for entering Konark. I said, ‘I am not a foreigner, I am an Indian’, but then to avoid an argument I paid extra. And behind me came a Sardar ji, he had a British passport but they let him in. He wasn’t charged extra because he didn’t look like a foreigner.” After 2008, Indian nationals have to pay Rs 40 at the Konark Sun Temple, while foreigners have to pay Rs 600.

Bond was born on May 19, 1934, to British parents Aubrey Alexander Bond and Edith Clarke in Kasauli. Today, he is one of the few Anglo-Indians remaining in India. After high school in India, Bond spent some years in London, where he published his first book The Room on the Roof. It won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1957. However, despite the success of his debut novel, Ruskin Bond returned to India in his mid-20s and made the country of his birth his home.

Today Bond lives with his Indian adoptive family in the small town of Landour in Uttarakhand. Talking about his adoptive family, Bond told PTI, “When I was in London, I did have a very close relationship with a Vietnamese girl. It didn’t come to anything. Time passed by and I never really felt that I could, in those days at least, have a family life. I was very much a lone ranger on my own until my present family became part of my life. Now, I am a family man without getting married.”

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