The Great Train Journey by Ruskin Bond is a collection of fourteen short stories. The theme of the book is to find back ‘Time to Stand and Stare’. The author says that once there used to be plenty of time when children would spend their time around trains and railway tracks and railway stations. Well, nowadays this all seems a thing of difficulty because people of today hardly have any time to stand and stare anything that fascinates them.
This collection is marvelous in its form because all fourteen stories in this book are about trains i.e. train watching, traveling on train, walking on the tracks, and so on. The author has compiled short stories in some way or the other that they revolve around the trains and railway stations of small-town India. The stories are so powerful and engaging that they will take you back to a time when life was not so full of care and there was time to stand and stare. But not for too long, or the train would leave without you!
The title story – The Great Train Journey – is about a boy named Suraj. The tone and mentioning of other characters suggest that the story is staged against in and around Dehradun. Suraj has nothing to do in his summer holidays. He wanders all day here and there, especially at the railway station and on the tracks.
One day he waves at a passing by train, and then he starts walking on the railway track. After some time, he finds a side line and a goods train halted there for no specific reason. He looks at the closed carriages and tries to push open the door. One by one, he reaches the end of the train and to his surprise the last carriage’s door opens up. He gets into the musty and dark coach. It is full of crates and straw is littered around him. As curiosity gets better of him, he tries to open up the crates to see the inside material. He tries and succeeds with one, he presses his fingers and pulls open up one crate. To his surprise, it’s full of red apples. He picks up one apple and moves to the door. Well, before he can understand anything, he sees that trees are passing the train. He feels the jolt and realizes that the train has started…it is going somewhere. He doesn’t know it and as he gets to jump out of the train, he loses his balance and falls on the floor. The train gets speed, he is trapped inside.
This is the first story in the collection; well there are more stories about trains and people in it. As you read on, you will get to know that some of his very famous train stories like The Tunnel, The Night Train at Deoli, Eyes Have it have been included in this collection. Love trains…read it and have fun.
Among all Ruskin Bond books, this one is special as it contains only railway and train related stories. Those who spent childhood in travelling trains or lingering around railway stations will love this collection.
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