A book for Train Lovers – Railonama

Railonama by Anupama Sharma
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


We have all grown up with the quintessential experience of travelling with the great Indian Railways. However for a lot of us now, who can afford, they have become a secondary choice of travel with the increasing air connectivity. In the need to save time some of us have almost foregone the rituals which used to come along with a train travel. Therefore, the title Railonama had attracted me, someone who has as a child was fascinated by trains.

A visual of a train

The book is a collection of stories told by people like us, as they recollect their moments or journeys on Indian railways which have left a mark on them. These stories sometimes make you chuckle and smile while some of them leave you pondering. However in all of them you do reminisce about bits and pieces which you have experienced yourself. The ritual of buying comics from the Wheeler’s stall, watching the scene outside for hours through your coveted window seat, rushing out to get the “Platform waali Chai“, small children in some unknown village getting excited and waving you good bye, changing sceneries and of course the packed food for long journey. It is all there in our own archives of train travel. So as you read through these carefully selected accounts, flashes of your own time spent on these trains keep coming back and a slight nostalgia does take over.

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In these stories are some very well articulated quotes which define what train travel really is to our people.

Here are some of them which do sum up the experience that is “Indian Railways

Whenever I think I need a reality check or want to understand the “whys of life”, I always turn to a railway station.

Malini Mathini Vathanan – Journey Full of Lessons

An amazing thing I’ve learnt while travelling in trains in India is how personal questions are considered absolutely acceptable. In most social situations, in most countries, they would evoke discomfort. But not in India, not on trains.

Anindita Deo – Elsewhere

It is probably the fact that, when on a train, we never sit and wait for our destination to arrive. We just continue with our lives, while the train unassumingly takes us there.

Nikhil Narayanan – Between Trains

You could witness the most amazing scenery on one hand and the most heartbreaking scenarios on the other.

Francois Juneau – A train trip in the land of extremes

Looking back, I reflect that my train journey was an opportunity of a lifetime to soak up a microcosm of Indian culture with all the beautiful scenery, contrasted with a peek into the harsh conditions that many people live in, and the wonderful range of flavors in the food that tickle the palate…

Francois Juneau – A train trip in the land of extremes

In the Western world, the trains are cleaner and faster and high-tech. But every passenger is an individual with no ties, whatsoever, with his or her fellow passengers. I even remember being reprimanded for having a brief conversation on my cell phone in one of the “Quiet” compartments on a train from Oxford to Paddington. What a contrast that was to the chatter that filled my years of travel between Pune and Bombay.

Varsha Halabe -My Love affair on Wheels


A good and easy read for the train lover in you !



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