Railonama is a collection of short stories put together by Anupama
Sharma. The stories are warm and poignant, and anyone who has traveled by train
in India can relate to the experiences narrated in this book. Short stories
with their quick narratives are always interesting, and this book was no
Anupama Sharma has done a commendable job curating the stories – it must
have been a mountainous task sifting through the submissions, because these
were memories of not just anything, they were memories of the Indian Railways
touching the lives of people from all walks of life! The variety and humor,
insights and lessons, even romance had me hooked, sometimes eliciting smiles, other
times leaving me with a sense of wonder or with tears in my eyes!
Most of the stories were well-written, and in every story, I was able to
catch the essence of the emotion or event. Barring a few typos and grammatical
errors in a couple of stories (I am presuming they might have been last minute
inclusions that couldn't be edited as thoroughly as the others), the
presentation is brilliant! I am amazed that Sharma has managed to put 45
stories into this collection, and it’s a job very well done indeed!
I think I loved the food stories best, because food is an integral part
of my train journeys, every time! While fellow-blogger Roshan Radhakrishnan’s
story about the boy with the chocolate éclairs made me smile indulgently,
Sharada Balasubramanian’s “From Chennai to Punjab” spoke about the intrinsically
Indian virtue of sharing food with strangers. Anupama Sharma’s “A slice of
apple” tells the story about the selfless Indian who didn't look too well off.
He had just one apple, but he cut it into as many slices as he could so as to
feed his co-passengers in a stranded train.
Most stories have either good or bad endings, but you will love the mixed endings
in “The castaway” by Vibha Batra and “Blue Hawai Chappals” by Yogesh Sharma! All
good books need an element of romance, and the beautiful love stories that
originated because of train journeys like “Jab we Met” by Rohit Khanduri, and “The Romance of the
Mountain Railway” by Susmita Bhattacharya are beautiful and true love stories.
Would I recommend this book to you? Absolutely, especially if you
are embarking on a train journey soon! I enjoyed this book thoroughly, but to
read it when actually traveling in a train – my, that would be grand! I think
this is a book that has found a place in my Christmas gifting list quite easily!
As Sharada Balasubramanian says in this very book, “The experience of
traveling in Indian trains is unique in itself. You lose sense of time, place,
language, and yet you are never alienated. The friends you make take care of
that!” I think she has nailed it! This is the essence of train travel in India,
and you will find it in each story in this lovely book!
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Labels: Book Review, christmas, India, Indian, travel