The night train at deoli and other stories – A nostalgic collection of short stories by Ruskin Bond

Book Title – The night train at deoli and other stories
Author – Ruskin Bond
Genre – Fiction/Children’s stories
Year of Publication – 1989

night-train-deoli

Life is not just achieving sales targets, shouldering family’s responsibilities and facing heart-breaking disappointments at every instance. It’s much more. But we are so much involved in the complexities of life that we forget have got only one life to live which we haven’t lived to the fullest. The night train at deoli and other stories is a beautiful collection of short stories by Ruskin Bond which is based in hilly areas of Dehra, Kasauli and Deoli. What really fascinated me about the book is the front cover image of a moving train. Though it is moving on the tracks, its speed is not hurrying, but slow and calm. Far from the madding crowd of the world, this night train at deoli takes you on a nostalgic journey of love.

Though I haven’t visited Mussoorie, Shimla, Dehradun, Kasauli or Deoli, but this book gave me scenic view of the places described in the short stories. The stories have been written with such a sheer sincerity and simplicity that you are ought to connect with it. Often in our life, we bond with people so much that this bonding lasts for a lifetime. This story is about bonding, unrequited love, affection, happiness and the nostalgic childhood moments we lived in the affectionate presence of our grandparents and friends. As I read these stories, it took me behind the timeline – my childhood. The childhood moments that I spent with my grandparents, uncle, school friends and my first school crush. I remember the moments I spent with my closed ones. Though my grandparents & uncle are no longer in this world, but the moments keep appearing like nostalgic visuals in my mind like a rerun of an old movie on TV. Though every short story has touch of simplicity, each story is sure to give you a nostalgic goose bump. Especially the short story ‘Night train at Deoli’ in this anthology will remind you of long lost love.

A sketch of author Ruskin Bond

A sketch of author Ruskin Bond

This anthology is about everyone – beggars, flower selling girl, an aging wrestler, writer, labour and every ordinary person. The simplicity in writing of Ruskin Bond is haunting, nostalgic and magical. This book is a relief for those readers who are stressed up by day to day struggles, heart breaking disappointments and financial worries. Just start reading the pages to discover the magic and escape into a different world where you will smell the aroma of hill side tea, travel in old age trains, visit the valley girls, ride a bicycle and encounter ghosts. When it comes to reading short stories, R.K.Narayan and Ruskin Bond have always been my favorite authors. If Malgudi days was about rural life in South India, ‘The night train at Deoli’ captured the beauty of hill side life. Once you start reading this book, you will definitely be eager to catch the first train to Deoli.

Lonely in times of Whatsapp age

Have social networking activities connected us to world or it has made us really lonely? Today telecom companies like Airtel, Reliance, and Idea are coming up with 3G and 4G plans for mobile subscribers. 4G speed facility is at the finger tip of every smart phone user. What next? Despite having 2000 friends on Facebook and 1000 followers on Twitter, so why there is sense of loneliness in the heart?

loneliness

Though I have 200 friends on Facebook and 100 followers on twitter, none of them are really active to communicate when I really need some soul to talk. This is not just my sad plight but everyone who is connected online. Whatsapp has enabled us to video chat, message freely anytime and anywhere with any friend we want. But still there is always a sense of melancholy in mind. There is difference between the virtual and real world.

We assume the virtual friends to be close to us when we want to talk freely. But that is not the case. In fact, no one has time for no one. There may be time when the person may be busy, sick or disconnected online. Majority of times, people like to communicate but only for short period. If you expect them to keep their work aside and understand your feelings, then you are heading for a stressful disappointment.

smartphone

In verge of attracting online friends, we have disconnected from real friends who don’t have smart phones. Is smart phone really an essential commodity in our life? The presence of smartphone is very essential but the excessive usage of online networking has really disconnected us from real happiness. Instead of connecting with friends in personal, we keep searching for friends virtually. Result!! We end up getting depressive and melancholic. Next time when you feel lonely, join a library, club, gym or bond with old friends in person. Smartphones, Tablets are gadgets to keep us communicated, but they can’t offer you the warmth of friendship that you will get from your real friends. There is nothing harm in having online friends. It is up to us to keep a balance between the real and the virtual world. Let us bring together our hands to pray, write, play and offer a support to the needy ones. The enjoyment of life lies in utilizing our hands for noble purpose than burning our fingers on gadgets. Life is too short to be little. Let us not waste it on being insecure, lonely and depressed. There is more to explore in life apart from gadgets.

Why was Peshwa Bajirao overshadowed by historians?

This still remains a question to date on Bajirao’s valor which was overshadowed by his emotions and love for Mastani. Equally brave as Napoleon and Alexander, Bajirao shook the Mughal empire and took the maratha empire to great heights.

bajirao-amar-chitra

A true successor of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Bajirao retained the Maratha Empire which had lost its power after the brutal slaying of Chattrapati Sambhaji. After the demise of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath, Bajirao stepped in the shoes of Peshwa to complete the tasks which were left incomplete by his father Vishwanath. Under the guidance of his father Balaji Vishwanath, Bajirao had rigorously trained himself in every skill – politics, warfare, horse riding, sword fighting, and economics. Bajirao entered the battle scene at age of 20 when the roots of Mughal supremacy were weakening. He not only had to fight with the crafty Nizam-Ul-Mulk, Portuguese, Siddis but also had to wage a war against his internal enemies.

The popular marathi novel - Rau is based on Peshwa Bajirao's relationship with Mastani

The popular marathi novel – Rau is based on Peshwa Bajirao’s relationship with Mastani

Popular Marathi Novelist N.S.Inamdar took the literary world by storm when his historical novel – Rau was published. Based on Bajirao’s relationship with Mastani, ‘Rau’ highlighted the struggles that Bajirao had to face with his own family – especially his mother Radhabai who strongly opposed his relation with Mastani. History says that Bajirao had won 41 battles which were against the enemies of Maratha supremacy. Despite leading so many military campaigns for his nation none of his efforts have been recorded with honour by historians. His only fault was that he obeyed his heart by loving his mistress – Mastani. His relationship with Mastani was even opposed by Brahmins to such an extent that they even plotted conspiracies to get Mastani killed. Not a single family member supported his relationship or understood his emotions. The family pressure and internal conflict took such a depressive toll on Bajirao’s health that he got unexpectedly sick due to heat stroke and breathed his last in a camp, isolated by his loved ones and separated by his true love – Mastani. This valiant Maratha was cremated on 28th April 1740 at Raverkhedi. Irony is that this brave Peshwa who had struggled so hard for Maratha supremacy died a quiet death leaving his legacy in hands of his children – Nanasaheb Peshwa and Raghunath Rao.

statue of Peshwa Bajirao

statue of Peshwa Bajirao

The Shaniwarwada palace built by Bajirao ironically never give any peace to his family and his successors. Bajirao didn’t spend a single day of happiness in Shaniwarwada. His successors – Madhavrao and Narayanrao died untimely death. Though his successors rose to post of Peshwa none of them was able to carry the legacy that Bajirao possessed. Only Madhavrao, his grandson had those qualities to continue that legacy which he couldn’t carry due to his death from tuberculosis.

Author E.Jaiwant Paul has succeeded to record every event of Bajirao’s military campaigns as well as his personal life in the book – Bajirao: The warrior Peshwa. This book by E.Jaiwant Paul is a reliable reference for those who want to read extensively on Peshwa Bajirao. Author Ram Sivasankaran has breathed a new life into forgotten history of Peshwa with his novel – The Peshwa: Lion and the stallion which is a thrilling historical story on rise of Peshwa Bajirao and his daring military campaigns.

the-peshwa

Even though historians only recorded his infamous relationship with Mastani, they couldn’t ignore his daring military campaigns which crumbled down the mighty Mughal Empire. Bajirao was a born warrior whose entire life was spent in army camps and even in his last moments, he was planning military strategies in his camp.

peshwa_baji_rao_i_riding_horse

“He died as he lived, in camp, under canvas among his men and he is remembered among the Marathas as the fighting Peshwa, as the incarnation of Hindu energy.” – Quote by S.R.Temple in praise of Peshwa Bajirao

Are Indian Comics slowly getting extinct?

The fresh flutter of comic pages simply made me crazy in my childhood times. For me, comics’ books were everything. I read, enjoyed, lived and breathed comics. From Diamond Comics, DC to Raj, Manoj, Tulsi and Pawan comics I have read all sorts of comic books. My fondness for comic books started with Indrajal comics which were published by Times of India publication.

Indrajal comics were highly popular among kids in 80's

Indrajal comics were highly popular among kids in 80’s

In 60, 70 and 80’s foreign comics were in full swing – DC and Marvel. Though the foreign comics were available in India, the craze for foreign super heroes wasn’t that in full swing. At that moment, Indrajal comics were selling in large numbers because Indian readers were glad to read about Phantom, Mandrake, Bahadur, Flash Gordon, Rip Kirby, Garth etc. I was a huge fan of Phantom and Mandrake comics. These two heroes were creation of Lee Falk who had succeeded to make his fan base in India through his characters. In that same year, Diamond comics uplifted the comics market with its comic books on Chacha Chaudhary, Billo, Pinki, Raman, Fauladi Singh, Mahabali Shaka, Ankur, Piklu etc. The books were huge bestsellers in 80’s and 90’s time. I had the complete collection of Chacha Chaudhary comics and relished on the stories during summer and Diwali holidays. It was my maternal uncle who used to bring lots of comics for me to read during my childhood days. He encouraged me to take on reading as a hobby which I still cherish. Unfortunately his demise had really left me in tears because it was he who introduced me to world of books. Today I still carry on the legacy of reading which was passed on to me by my uncle. Whenever I am traveling or simply lazing around, books are always with me.

The arrival of Diamond Comics was a fresh book to Indian comics Industry

The arrival of Diamond Comics was a fresh book to Indian comics Industry

From Indrajal comics to today’s Campfire comics, comics industry has seen lots of rise and fall. In early 90’s Raj comics and Manoj comics entered in the market with their own super heroes – Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruva, Ram-Rahim, Mahabali Shera etc. These comics were popular among readers in Northern sides. Even Tulsi comics were strong contenders in comics industry. Slowly with the times, Times of India stopped its publication of Indrajal comics in early 90’s which was the beginning of end for Indian comics. Later in early 2000, all the Indian publications – Diamond, Raj, Manoj and Tulsi decreased the publication of new comics. Presently, whenever I go to Bombay VT to buy comics, not a single comic book of Diamond is available in market.

raj-comics

Though new comic books like Vimanika and Campfire are available online as well in book stalls, the price of the books are too expensive to buy for a middle class reader. Earlier Indrajal comics, Diamond comics priced around 8 to 20 bucks which was economical for every reader. Sadly, nowadays even Indian comics are priced around 200 to 300 bucks. The emergence of social networking, Whatsapp, mobile technology, Kindle has really sunk the Indian comics Industry. In this tough competition, only Amar Chitra Katha books have managed to survive the market. Whenever I visit some libraries or old book stalls, I do see some old copies of Diamond comics and Raj comics. In a fit of nostalgia, I buy the old copies of these comic books which once ruled the comics Industry. India is a non-reading country where people are crazy about only two things – movies and cricket. Comics are the first step towards reading and encouraging young minds towards books. Can Kindle rekindle the hobby of reading? It is high time that more and more Indian publications should come up to bring up Indian comics back in book stalls.

Pink – The new colour of courage

If a stylishly attired girl joins a gang of boys for drinks does it means she is of low morale? If a woman is in live in relationship with a man does it mean she is degraded? Mingling freely with boys doesn’t indicate that she is ready for any sinful act. The 2016 motion picture – Pink highlights the cynical mindset of masculine gender towards female race. Pink is not just a colour representing femininity, it is the symbol of undying spirit of feminine courage. Through movie ‘Pink’, we see the ugly picture of today’s western minded society which only sees female as weak species on whom they can pounce anytime and satisfy their sexual hunger. The backdrop of movie Pink is based in our nation’s capital – Delhi which is unsafe place especially for women. Not to forget the horrifying incident of Nirbhaya in 2012 which has questioned the safety of women in India. Three young working women join a gang of boys for a drink at a private resort. Little do they realize that one of the boys seeks an opportunity to forcibly get intimate with one of the girls. The girl protests against this forced assault and fatally wounds the boy. The three girls escape from the resort.

The 2016 motion picture Pink is a courtroom drama that raises more questions than the issues addressed

The 2016 motion picture Pink is a courtroom drama that raises more questions than the issues addressed

The next day, all the three girls are wrongly framed as prostitutes by the wounded boy who turns out be a son of a high profile politician. Minal Arora, one of the girls who had fatally wounded the politician’s son is brutally molested and imprisoned in jail for attempt of murder. No lawyer is ready to defend their case until a retired lawyer Deepak Sehgal (played brilliantly by Amitabh Bachchan) takes the case and fights a war of words in the court that questions the modesty and character of three innocent girls. The three girls are brought to tears and emotional outrage by the opposition lawyer and they are even questioned on personal front – caste, relationship and abilities.

The court room scenes in Pink compel to sit up and take notice of today’s westernized youngsters especially boys who have a wrong impression that if a girl can mingle with them, then she can even sex with them. If boy sports a stylish outfit he is a dude, but if a girl wears a short skirt, she is low character. Many a times, a girl in fashionable skirt becomes a topic of hot discussion among the boys who gaze at her lustily. Who is to blame? The girl in short skirt or the boys with lusty mindset. If a girl refuses to forceable advances of a guy, then the ‘no’ is ‘no’. No one even force a call girl for sexual desires if she is not willing. Sadly for today’s sexually charged men, women are just objects of desires. In such instances, a girl should never join boys for a treat or drink. She should never talk freely with men. If a man has flirtatious relationships with several women then he is a stud and if a woman has couple of male colleagues then she is regarded as a care free slut.

The movie ‘Pink’ raises more questions than the issues addressed. Though the three girls win the case in the climax, the emotional trauma that they undergo for being a woman becomes the biggest fault. Be it a school, home or a corporate office, a woman is lustily looked down as sexual object by relatives, neighbors, friends or a boss. Majority of sexual violence happen behind the closed doors of home. The so-called white collared relatives are the notorious culprit who sexually assault on teenage girls. Even the popular talk show host Ophray Winfrey had admitted that she was a victim of molestation. For those who think Pink is just a weak color, then it is time to change the mindset of the sick society and show them that any woman – be a corporate working person, servant, labour or a sweeper has rights to live her life as per terms. She is ‘Mardaani’ – the brave successor of feminine courage. Pink is now the new color of courage.