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The Station Master by Indranil Mukherjee
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2019, india, fiction

The Indian Railways often makes news for the wrong reasons when major accidents happen. Complaints about trains running late or with pathetic service no longer make news as the shrill middle classes have switched, by and large, to travel by air or road instead of railways.

Yet, it is no exaggeration to say that given the scale of its operations and the number of passengers, besides goods, that it ferries every year, it does a super job within its constraints. It is one the largest railways in the world, employing over a million and carrying over 23 million passengers daily.

However, till I read Indranil Mukherjee's “The Station Master”, I did not really appreciate the human factor of the Indian Railways that works around the clock to keep the mammoth operations going. It involves not only using technology but also a great deal of human interaction, manage the routine operations while also dealing with irate passengers, loitering vagabonds and local mafias.

“The Station Master” is a simply written collection of short stories from the point of view of a young station master Manab Banerjee posted in various railway stations in Bihar. So true to life are the stories that had I not known Indranil as a colleague in the IT industry, I would have imagined this to be an autobiographical account.

The stories are about the characters in the railways stations and what seemingly look like ordinary events. Indranil’s style is straightforward, his words are precise and economical. It can be tempting to bring out irony in writing for dramatic effect, but the writer seems to have consciously avoided it choosing instead to focus on the humane aspects and endowing his characters with empathy. The closest comparison I can think of is RK Narayan’s style that recounts the daily life of ordinary people going about their ordinary lives.

The stories in this book transform the daily drudgery of those who deal with the ground realities of running the railways into a page turner. That Indranil manages to sustain the interest of the reader with more or less the same set of characters in more or less the same setting, is a tribute to his masterly skills as a writer.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 3, 2019 – Shelved
January 3, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
January 3, 2019 – Shelved as: india
January 3, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction
January 3, 2019 – Finished Reading

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