Skip to main content

Book Review: Halt Station India by Rajendra B Aklekar

If we ever talk about the history of railways in India, we are to revolve anywhere around Mumbai, as common people we are to only understand that the first train ran between Mumbai and Thane in 1853, but we have so far failed to explore within Mumbai of how the railway expanded within Mumbai or how did the iconic structures such as the Victoria Terminus came into existence or the importance of the history behind the stations within Mumbai beyond their contribution to the suburban system of Mumbai. This is where the book Halt Station India by Rajendra B Aklekar plays a very important role in helping us fill the gap left behind by various authors when trying reconstruct the history of Indian Railways.

The book has been systematically stitched to understand the people and the challenges behind the expansion of India’s railway and how the rail line was constructed and the periodic intervention of pictures and account excerpts of men who were actively involved in the construction. But what forms the fascinating part of the book is detailed description of the stations that fall within the suburban lines. It is not very abruptly described, which means that the while reading through the stations, the very words, “as the train moves” makes one feel as they are really moving through stations and as the train is slowing down at the station and one taking a stroll station for the time as one reads the story of the station involved in the reading.

It is more of a train journey that takes you through the stations through the harbour Line of Mumbai or be it in the historic period of BB&CI (A private railway company under the guarantee system of railways).

But the reading is not completely passive. The author also keeps the readers aware about the contemporary developments along the stations which are today’s lifeline for the suburban railway, thus linking the nostalgic history and the ruthless contemporary development, which is slowly diluting the essence of once iconic stations. The very important observation in the book is while reading the book, one at times feel that the very reading has become slow, but it is the slow-paced reading what makes the reader involved and helps grasp the information, though the very volume of information is slowly absorbed through multiple readings, it escalates the interest in readers with every reading.

Mr. Rajendra did a commendable job of conveying the history through simple, concise and lucid language, making history accessible to even people who might hold little or no interest in the field of railways. The book is an instrument to arousing interest in the railways and evoking the awareness in people on the rich history that the railways share alongside also reflecting on the dynamism of railways.

Thus, at the end of the reading, the reader takes alongside a rich culture, history and an enhanced understanding of the dramatic tale of India’s first railway line. Mr. Rajendra’s research and narrative style is highly commendable on a subject as unique and complex as that of India’s first railway line which goes beyond Mumbai and Thane.

Contributed by Chitresh Shrivastva


Popular posts from this blog

Poem Summary: Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Poem by Rabindranath Tagore: Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls Where words come out from the depth of truth Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. Short Summary: This poem is written by Rabindranath Tagore during pre-independence days, when India was a colony of the British. The underlying theme of the poem is absolute freedom; the poet wants the citizens of his country to be living in a free state. According to the poem, we see that the poet is expressing his views there should be a country, like where people live without any sort of fear and with pure dignity…they should

Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

Among all Ruskin Bond books, The Blue Umbrella has, so far, gathered immense applaud from readers and critics alike.  This is a short novel, but the kind of moral lessons it teaches to us are simply overwhelming. This is a story of Binya, a poor little girl living with her mother and an elder brother, Bijju, in a small hilly village of Garhwal. One day while herding her two cows back home, she stumbles upon some city people enjoying the picnic in the valley. She is enthralled to see them well-groomed and rich. She craves to be one like them and among many other things of their, a blue frilly umbrella catches her attention. She begins craving for it. On the other hand, the city people get attracted by her innocent beauty and the pendant in her neck. The pendant consists of leopard’s claw – which is considered a mascot widely in the hills. Binya trades her pendant off with the blue umbrella. The blue umbrella is so much beautiful that soon it becomes a topic of conversation fo

Poem Summary: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias is a short poem of fourteen lines written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The concurrent theme of the poem is that nothing remains intact and same forever in this world. Even the brightest of metal, one day decays with passage of time. The throne name of Egyptian King Ramesses is Ozymandias. It was his dearest desire to preserve himself forever by building a huge statue that he thought would never tumble down. Stanza 1: I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; Summary: The poet narrates the poem through the eyes of a traveler who seems to have come back from a remote and far-away land, referring to Egypt. The traveler r