Stories of Thousand Wheels on the Steel Track

I was born on 16th June in one nondescript town of Maharashtra bordering Madhya Pradesh. Even today, not many people will recognize the name. But, if you share a connection with the labyrinth of steel tracks spread all over India, you know know this place. There is no special tourist attraction, no big industrial estate, but for Indian Railways, this place is important one. On one of the important lines of Central Railways, my birthplace, a quiet town of Bhusawal is located. My nanaji (maternal grandpa) worked in the railways and it had taken him to Bhusawal back then. This is the story of my connection to Indian Railways.

However, The Great Train Journey is the collection stories which revolve around the trains, tracks and small nondescript stations along those track. India’s favorite Bond, Ruskin Bond has written these stories at different times during his writing career and compiled in this one volume sharing a common theme.

What to expect from this?

While introducing this collection of fourteen train stories with different flavors, he says
“… I leave you to read these, with the promise 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.”
I am a fan of Ruskin Bond stories because of his style of storytelling. He always paints a picture of beautiful places in the foothills of Himalaya, where most of his stories take place. His language is always simple and ordinary. This collection is not an exception to this quality. The way he has described the scene in ‘Dragon in the Tunnel’ and ‘Tiger in the Tunnel’, it paints the picture of those old steam engines pulling train out of the mysterious dark tunnel. ‘Time Stops At Shamli’. ‘The Eyes Have It’, ‘Night Train to Deoli’, are my favorite stories from this book.

Even though I am a ‘fan’ of Mr. Bond, I will not put this book in ‘Best stories by Ruskin Bond’ category. These stories are quite ordinary and yet they are not boring. There’s a bit of a reputation when it comes to settings in which stories happen. The reason behind, I think, is the theme which has a common setting of railways. Yet the stories I mentioned above touched the heart and were worth reading it.

From the blurb

‘The first time I saw a train, I was standing on a wooded slope outside a tunnel, not far from Kalka. Suddenly, with a shrill whistle and great burst of steam, a green and black engine came snorting out of the blackness.. “A dragon!” I shouted. “There’s a dragon coming out of its cave!”’The charm of travelling by a train as it speeds its way out of a tunnel or a jungle and passes through nondescript villages and towns is unmatched. There also exists a joyful curiosity in unfolding the mysterious lives and destinations of its passengers.Ruskin Bond has been writing tales about the hinterland for decades, but this is the first time his stories revolving around trains and railway stations of small-town India have been brought together in a single collection. Classics such as ‘The Eyes Have It’ and ‘The Night Train at Deoli’ rub shoulders with tales of big cats taking refuge in railway tunnels and strangers who strike up a friendship while waiting at a platform.So, hop on and allow one of India’s greatest storytellers to steer you through the Great Train Journey.

About the book

  • Book Name: The Great Train Journey
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications
  • Published on: 20 August 2018
  • ISBN 10: 9353041511
  • ISBN 13: 978-9353041519
  • Length: 136 pages
  • MRP: ₹ 195.00

My Ratings

Stories: 2.5/5
Writing Style: 3.5/5
Cover Design: 4/5

Overall Rating: 3/5

Where to get your copy

Should you read it?

If you are already a fan or admirer of Mr. Bond’s work, you can finish this one quickly and move on to the next one. As I said earlier, not the best of his works but it’s still enjoyable.

But if you haven’t read anything written by him, I would recommend do not start with this one. It won’t be fair to his fantastic writing if you feel disappointed in the first book.


This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023. For more about my views on books, click here.

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