CRAZY TIMES WITH UNCLE KEN
By Ruskin Bond;
Puffin Books, Rs 175
When you see the cover of Crazy Times with Uncle Ken, you will know that youíre in for adventure. A man wearing a red striped blazer, being chased by wasps, isnít the typical uncle. This book is a collection of short stories about Ruskin Bondís Uncle Ken. And it isnít just the uncle who is interesting ó the other family members all bring loads of laughter to the reader.
Uncle Ken is more like a friend than an uncle to Bond. He may be older in years but Uncle Ken is like a little boy. Bond doesnít hesitate to tease him about his constant state of unemployment or the words used by others to describe him, like ďeccentricĒ. He is on a constant search for mischief and doesnít seem worried that he cannot hold a job for more than two months.
His mother, Bondís grandmother, is the familyís pillar. She cooks nice meals for Bond during his holidays, takes care of the pets, and continues to take care of Uncle Ken because she has no other choice. She has accepted her sonís eccentric nature. Then there is Grandfather, who buys a monkey and carries a tortoise in his pocket. The monkey, Tutu, is very much a part of this eccentric household. She helps out in the kitchen, grins at a ticket collector, sits on the goatís back while the latter looks around for grass, and even accompanies Bondís aunt to her honeymoon! Oh, and the family has a pet dog called Crazy.
Uncle Kenís adventures will keep you glued to the book, as each crazy incident will make you wonder how far he can go. Like the time he pretends to be a famous cricketer and actually plays the game. Or when he takes little Bond to a lunatic asylum where all the patients believe they are royalty. Even when he does find a job that will require him to work minimal hours ó as he would like to work as little as possible ó he manages to lose it. Then there is the time when he suddenly starts to love the same crows that he hated before.
Throughout the book, the author has included non-human characters who play a significant role in the stories. Besides Tutu and Crazy, there are white mice, a small tortoise, a goat, and other animals. A particular crow that feels like he has some sort of bond with Bondís family has an entire chapter dedicated to his thoughts and ranting. He tells us about his feelings towards the family members and how he and his fellow crows act in groups. There is conversation between the crows and one even tells Crazy to ďgo catch a catĒ.
This book will have you wishing for an uncle like Uncle Ken. Life would be hilarious then!