My article was recently published in the special Railway issue of the unique magazine called One India One People.
MARRIED TO THE RAILWAYS…ER, RAILWAY MAN!
By Shail Raghuvanshi
When I religiously and playfully took my rides in the toy train of Cubbon Park ages ago in Bangalore week after week and, enjoyed it thoroughly, I did not really understand the significance of railways as a medium of travel and transportation. Again, when my family headed north for our annual winter vacations and I loved every moment of our train journeys in the non-AC compartments, I knew not how the Indian Railways was becoming ingrained in my mindset so to say.
Everything fell into place (as far as the railway part of my life was concerned) when I got married to a railway man! It was as if the last jigsaw puzzle had finally fallen into place in my life. Though the importance of it did not strike me then, over the years, being part of the huge railway fraternity has made my life complete! And, when the realization dawned only then, did I realize that I wasn’t just married to a railway man, but like a newly married woman who doesn’t just marry her husband but his entire family, I was being absorbed into the entire railway family!
For a civilian who’s only connection with railways had been toy train rides and the yearly train journeys to Calcutta, Varanasi and Delhi where my relatives resided, this sudden surge of railway ambiance gushing into my life was albeit initially unwelcome! Honestly, I hadn’t taken into account the vast legacy left behind by the British to chug into my life without my permission. To top it all, my husband turned out to be one who lived, and loved the Railways. He practically breathed railways! If the smell of perfume aroused me, it was the smell of heavy metal (pun intended) that energized him. Watching a steam engine chugging into a station gave him a kind of joy that I just could not fathom. Train, tracks, passing scenery – all made my husband become philosophical about life. My childhood train rides came nowhere near the ecstasy that my husband felt while going ‘on duty’ (‘on line’ in railway parlance) every other week.
Train accidents which had been viewed as unfortunate accidents by me in the past now began being seen by me in a completely different perspective only because I now belonged to the railway family. Added to this was the fact that my husband’s role in the railways involved procuring a first-hand account of such incidents. So, compared to the time when my view was more objective and less personal, I was now slowly and steadily forming subjective and personal opinions about the railways.
I remember the time when I almost lost my husband in a railway accident in the year 2001. The train in which my husband was travelling on duty had plunged into a river bed crashing through the Kadalundi Bridge somewhere near Calicut. The seriousness of the incident dawned on me only when I saw the images on television while I sat huddled with my 3 year old son. Fortunately, my husband survived the accident and except for the call that he made to me sitting below the broken bridge asking me to not worry, I did not hear from him for an entire week. The fact that he was also a railway officer seemed to overrule the reality that he was a victim of an accident too. So, because he was miraculously alive he had to assist the rescue operations too! When he returned home (clad in the same dress for an entire week) he was in a real mess. After having heard wails of families, of seeing bodies of children, women and men he was like, “Good Lord! Why should such a tragedy take place? How had I survived this disaster while the next compartment passenger had plunged to his death caught between metal and water?” It took my husband a long time to overcome the inner conflicts and the nightmares of the accident.
So, did this unnerve my railway husband? If I had been in his place it certainly would have brought me down to my knees. And, I would have switched jobs. But, railway men are made of sterner stuff I discovered just like the innumerable ones working in the railways all over the country. For somebody who vaguely believed in the law of karma and hardly knew anything about mass karma, this accident was indeed an eye-opener.
There have been times when I have wondered as to how life would have possibly been had I not been connected to the railways. Well! Lots of images popped up in my mind but nothing equalled the joy of being part of such a unique system, an institution in itself. It is not as if all is hunky dory in the railways. There are times when professional dissatisfaction does seep into family life leaving the inmates of a railway household as unhappy as the railway man himself. But then, that is part of any job!
All I can say is that my knowledge of railways that had been limited to treating it as merely a medium of travel and transportation has today, been transformed into a more humane perspective to the extent that I have become biased. Unlike before I got married, now I can judge or sympathise both, railway travellers and railway employees in the same manner. Suddenly, the T.T.E. looking smart in his railway coat, the tea vendor on the platform, the porter – all speak of stories waiting to be told. Train drivers, guards, clerks, peons, officers – all breathe, live and love their railway journeys as I become an unseen spectator in their everyday lives.For good or for bad, the railway is part of their lives and they carry this emotion into their graves. Each one’s experience is a saga in itself.Yesterday, I would not have even given it a thought but today, because I am married to a railway man, it makes one hell of a difference!
The intricacies of railway life, work and culture can push you or bend you and sometimes can even break you. But there is no running away from it as I realise that I am not just married to a railwayman – I am married to the railway in him as well!
PLUCK OUT THE HEART An anthology of a different kind
Have regular tales of love, valour and adventure begun to get on to your nerves?
Then, get ready for this unconventional anthology of horror stories that don’t just make your hair rise on the nape of your neck but, almost PLUCK OUT your heart!
So, who are these HORROR writers?
There are five of them actually, transcending different professions, crisscrossing varied ages, having got together to bring for you a powerful collection of dark horror tales.
Each tale is a genre in itself. Each story is written to unnerve you.
Some writers are seasoned ones while many others are foraying into the field of story telling for the first time thus, providing an innate charm to the anthology.
Sagher Manchanda, Nalini Srivastava, Nikhil Katkar, Shail Raghuvanshi and Neelam Saxena Chandra are out there to haunt you with their tales of horror!
If I write any more I shall be giving away the plot. So, enough said for now.
The book, published by Airavat Publishing is going to be launched on 15th April at 6pm at Kitab Khana, Fort, Mumbai.
For those it is possible, please do make it. I shall be there and will be delighted to meet you in person!
For those it is difficult, do purchase the book once it is available online and in stores in your city.
It is Valentine’s Day and what a lovely day to announce on my blog that a love story of mine is part of a beautiful collection of 14 (yes, Feb 14) authors, talented all of them, including that of dear friend, superb writer and successful marketing man Faraaz Kazi who is responsible for the creation, compilation, publication and marketing of the book, LOVE which when expanded reads, LOTS OF VOLATILE EMOTIONS!
Wishing all friends a very happy Valentine’s Day and a fantastic time reading the stories of beautiful writers.
God bless you all with love. Always.
The most vivid choice that I made in life was when I thwarted a fiftyish man from trying to grope me from behind. I yelled out at him in the bus I was travelling. I was a school going kid, a teenager and felt utterly violated when I found a man old enough to be my father getting too close for comfort. I could not muster up enough guts to slap him but I gave him a lecture of my life right there in the bus that I am sure he never forgot.
I walked into my house from the bus stop, rushed to my room and burst out crying.
I learnt two valuable lessons that day.
One, to never keep quiet when exploited.
And two, I discovered that I had suddenly become a fantastic elocutionist. It was after this incident that I began taking part in elocutions and debates and I always won!
I had made a choice then. And, I was to make many more choices later on in life. Mom wanted me to become a teacher. Dad wanted me to become an I.A.S. Officer. I wanted to become none of them. So, off I ran to a Career Guidance Centre and got a test done and presented the report to my parents. The report stated Journalism.
Nothing doing, I was told. The Career Guidance folks called up my father and asked him to meet them. He did and discovered the scientific methods used in tracking my field of interest and abilities.
And today, they both are proud of my literary acumen.
I could have kept silent and suffered a probable molestation.
I could have opted for I.A.S. or B.Ed and stayed unhappy my entire life.
But, I chose to make a difference, and one hell of a difference it has been!
Journey from ‘OR’ to ‘AND’
Your story of how you took charge of life and made a choice, not a compromise. When you refused to choose one thing OR the other, and instead followed your heart.
“Memories are the best gift we can give our children. Sometimes, despite our efforts, certain memories fade away while the ones that we least expected stay. All we can do is to help the children to remember the good ones. After that, their minds take over.”
My mother passed away about 8 years back. My memories of her are clear as pure water. But, I can’t say the same for my son. He was barely 7 years old when she passed away. So, though he feels her warmth and remembers certain words of hers, his recollection is hazy. When he first told me this, plagued with guilt, I was angry.
“How can you not remember Nani?” I had asked him.
“She was the one who used to chop the papaya and feed it to you lovingly with a fork.”
“She was the one who used to massage you.”
“She was the one who used to chat for hours with you.”
“She was the one who used to play ‘ghugua ghoon’ with you.”
So I rattled on and on. I had every right to be furious…..
My mother, my son’s only grandmother who doted on him had become just a hazy memory for my son! What had happened to all the warmth and love that she enveloped him with? Had he forgotten it all? How could he?
Want to read rest of the article? Then do visit Parentous.com where my article has appeared.
Have a nice day!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
The wind was young, her heart fertile and she could feel those strange yearnings rise in her heart and soul. She sat on the dewy grass beside the beautiful lake near her house. Looking at her reflection in the cool, clear water of the lake she felt like drowning in the waters of the pool.
‘At least, they will welcome me in their embrace,’ she thought ‘without any discrimination of colour, caste or creed.’
Born in a community that fished the waters for their living, she was the darkest of the lot. While her other siblings were not exactly pretty or fair, they still had a complexion that did not make people tease them,
‘There goes Miss Charcoal
In full or in whole.’
So much did Janani’s presence mar the surroundings for her relatives and friends that they preferred it if she was away from family functions or temple celebrations. At such times, she would be found scrubbing the vessels, washing dishes or sitting beside the lake as she was now.
Something in the transparent water, the clear sky, the affectionate shady trees made her feel wanted and blessed.
The scorning and the discriminating attitude of even her parents and friends would make her rush to the forest in tears but amazingly the unconditional love of Ma Nature transformed her woes into blessings. Many a time, she would be found with eyes closed, deep in thought, one with nature, oblivious to all sound.
The ravages of time spared no one. It wore out everyone and yet, Janani remained her usual self. Over the years, a kind of glow had added to her persona. Amidst the dark skin arose a fair, glowing soul that permeated all over. The tears that used to threaten to throw her into the lake of glowing water now no longer appeared in her eyes. Instead, they transformed into drops of pearls as she connected with a world beyond- a world that knew no hurt, no expectation, just a heart opened to receive the blessings that she richly deserved.
Finding her thus one day, girls who lived nearby, giggling with the vibrations of teenage infatuation would descend upon her, pulling her away, from her-self chosen solitude.
“Janani, Oh Janani?” they would exclaim.
“Why do you hide here while the boys long for us out there? Don’t you desire for their attention?”
Irked by her smile, another girl cruelly commented, “Oh Leave her alone. What would she know of love, of desire? She is but charcoal, ready to be used for fire.”
And, they would go away. Their comments had over the years become like dried leaves that fell upon her for she knew that if her friends knew about the intensity of her desire, they would not know what to do. The love that she felt was not for flesh but for thought, not for material objects but for the unconditional warmth of the One Above- His flute playing eternally in her ears…
Title: The Purple Moon
Poet: Neelam Saxena Chandra
Publication: First Step Publishing
Price: Paperback: Rs200, E-Book: Rs50
Writing a love poem might seem an easy task to many.
“All you have to do is write a few lines about emotions, about yearning and longing. And bingo! There, you have a poem on love” they say.
Not that easy folks! Firstly, one needs to have felt the emotion called love – in whatever form – for the lover, husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, nature, pet or the Lord. Secondly, poetry is no child’s play. Not everyone has the knack for it. Neelam Saxena Chandra has it!
The poetry collection begins with the poem, ‘The Purple Moon’ which is the title of the book.
‘The moon appears purple
Since I have met you’
‘In love as well as in the purple moon
There is mysticism and magic
And both are as charming as ever.’
The anthology also uniquely ends with a poem titled, ‘Visit To The Purple Moon’ which talks about love that drowns one in it completely, very close to the feeling of divinity.
Writing a collection of poems on the different shades of love is not an easy task. Again, it is difficult to write not one, five or ten poems but 100 poems on love. Well! Neelam has done it and successfully so.
For example, in the poem, ‘On Life And Living’ she beautifully writes,
‘The azure of the sky
Refused to colour my being
And I lay
With murky hues
Obviously, in a collection of 100 poems, there will be some favourites. To the extent of leaving out innumerable lovely poems from this review (after all, you have to read them from the book too?) I shall mention a few.
In ‘My Ink’ Neelam writes:
Shall freeze one day,
Or it may lose
And while words get written
They may remain invisible.’
‘It could even be
That the hands quiver
And refuse to deliver
What the mind says,
Or the eyes just can’t read
The written words.’
‘Will you be by my side–
Reading to me,
Writing for me
And give my ink
‘Do You’ is another favourite of mine, written simply and emotionally.
‘I shall soon be asleep
In a world
Where pain does not matter
Where nothing hurts
Where even stinging words
Carry no meaning
Where the duality in natures
Won’t upset me.
When I sleep thus,
You come and tell me
That you loved me-
It won’t matter anymore.
If you do,
Why not show me before I sleep?’
The book is special to me because I won it as Prize for writing a poem on The Purple Moon.
For a person wanting to read a poetry collection for the first time, I will definitely recommend Neelam Saxena Chandra’s book, The Purple Moon. The imagery is beautiful and the language simple, so much so that even a non-literary person can identify with several of the emotions mentioned in the poems.
Neelam Saxena Chandra, an Engineer by profession, works for the Indian Railways. She shares a world of word fantasy thanks to her incurable passion of writing poetry and fiction. Around six hundred of her stories/poems have been published in various leading Indian as well as international magazines, anthologies and journals. She has many books to her credit which include novels, poetry anthologies and children’s books.Her stories/poems have been transmitted by Akashwani (Radio) also. Neelam has been nominated by Forbes India Magazine among the 100 most well known authors.
Just because it is a terror attack in Pakistan, it does not make the pain any lesser. It hurts to see children dying for no fault of theirs. It pains immensely to live in an age when terrorists brutally and insensitively destroy beautiful buds that were yet to bloom. No holy book, no faith calls for a mass destruction of lives. Vengeance is God’s right, not ours, not the so called followers’ who insult the pure and holy doctrine of Islam.
Terror has no double meaning.
It means just one thing,
In all languages, religions and thoughts –
‘Poisoned minds spewing hurt and disdain.
Faithless fervour destroying innocence
In the name of God, Belief and the Law.’
No form of the Almighty advocates destruction-
Of vulnerable souls.
No inflicted wound demands vengeance
Of naive minds.
If tit for tat was the ethical way
Then, nobody would be unhappy, lost and harmed.
Easy to become judgemental
For a nation thrusting hatred and terrorism
In the name of freedom.
What is lost now is not a natural consequence
Of cruel deeds done, of borders stealthily crossed.
It is the murder of non-territorial humanity across the shores of humane existence!
“If there is any truth in what you are saying, there are too many balls in the air. It could be anything. Muslim fanatics in Af-Pak, Hindu fundamentalists in India, Sri Lankan rebels fighting the government for Tamil liberation, Iranian extremists, Iraqis owing allegiance to Saddam. It could be anything. Where do we begin?’
Title: GOD IS A GAMER
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Price: Rs 299
Ravi Subramanian was one author who I was wanting to read but kept bidding my time. Now, why would I, a person not even remotely connected with the world of bank, business and accounts wish to read books read by a banker? Well, I had read all kinds of books with varied backgrounds, some even so fascinating that I could not even identify 0.1% of my life with them. Good Lord! Did I just mention a number? Well, you can attribute that to my reading of Ravi Subramanian’s book, God Is A Gamer!
The book’s title attracted me. I quite believe that God Is indeed a Gamer because He might be just watching all of humanity playing their games, with the ignorant and arrogant humans not realizing that the main game is being played somewhere else.
What happens when you cross gamer, banker, politician and terrorist with virtual money?
From the bestselling author of If God Was A Banker comes the first ever bitcoin thriller. God Is a Gamer is a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villains, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.
Moving from Washington’s Congress to Delhi’s finance ministry, the beaches of Goa to the corporate boardrooms of Mumbai, this is Ravi Subramanian’s most gripping novel yet.
Bitcoins was a word I had vaguely heard of but had not understood much. I understood it in its entirety in the novel. Dealing with the virtual world every day I had not realized that there could be something as interesting, mysterious and sensational as virtual money. Adding to this concept a gripping tale of finance, politics, greed and banking makes the entire plot a varied and sensational one.
When I had commenced reading the book, I was sceptical because I wasn’t sure whether the author would be able to capture the imagination of a reader not even vaguely interested in a novel with banking and finance as the backdrop. Yeah! Me. But, the author put all my doubts to rest as I found myself wanting to know more as the plot advanced.
So, we have Aditya who runs a gaming company Indiscape and eTIOS, his son Varun (who is also into drugs and all) who turns around the world of gaming and brings the kind of success that his father always wanted (though, not exactly in the way he wanted it).
A phishing scam unexpectedly affects innumerable customers of NYIB (New York International Bank) a place where Aditya had once worked. This is followed by the death of the chairman of NYIB, Malvika Sehgal. Accusations and counter accusations follow where even the Finance Minister is placed under suspicion. Her daughter Tanya gets closer to Varun trying to come to terms with the sudden death of her mother. But, are things really the way they appear to be?
Elsewhere, a US government official Gillian Tan is assassinated in a bomb explosion in Washington. During the course of the investigation a cotton trail website is discovered which sells illegal items via a free network called the TOR (Onion Router). What makes the investigation difficult is that the website uses bitcoins as payment. This brings the investigations officers to India. What happens after that? Is the murder solved? Is the ATM heist connected to this?
All at once, the net doesn’t appear a safe place anymore with illegal transactions like drugs, money and sex exchanging hands and disrupting lives all over the world.
If you are into thrillers, then, this book is for you. It is the chill-kill kind of thriller. And, I am glad that I got to read the book. Ravi has done a fine job with the story plot and the novel.
Ravi Subramanian is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and has spent two decades in the world of global banking in India. His debut novel, If God Was a Banker won the Golden Quill reader’s Choice Award in the year 2008. He won the Economist Crossword Book Award in 2012 for The Incredible Banker and the Crossword Book Award in 2013 for The Bankster. His most recent novel is Bankerupt. He lives in Mumbai with his wife and daughter.
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