Tracking down railway memories

Anglo Indians were entrusted with the task of building the railways and managing the system. One may often hear the refrain “Those were the days of the Anglo-Indian train drivers who ensured that the train ran on time and as per schedule.”

Published: 10th October 2013 09:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th October 2013 09:03 AM   |  A+A-

Noel-Thomas

Anglo Indians were entrusted with the task of building the railways and managing the system. One may often hear the refrain “Those were the days of the Anglo-Indian train drivers who ensured that the train ran on time and as per schedule.”

As an ode to the railway memories and of the community that has been identified with its inception and running, Footprints On The Track, Anglo-Indian Railway Memories published by Anglo-Ink was launched here on Monday. The book has been penned by a group of writers in the community.

Edited by Vizag-based Noel Thomas, retired Divisional Mechanical Engineer who worked with both the Eastern Railway and South-Eastern Railway, the book is a collection of stories that have the railway lines as the metaphor.

About the book, Thomas says, “These are a collection of true stories about the hardworking railway population. In fact, the Anglo-Indians who were employed with the railways were proud of their identity. Many referred to us as the railway caste and we were fine with it.”

Thomas adds that since the community is a largely dwindling population, it has become more imperative to celebrate their stories.

He says, “There are lots of misconceptions about us. We worked hard and we played hard. The railway stories are about the colonies along railway yards, the sense of belonging and the camaraderie in the community. It is about the soldierly sense of duty that we had and a few tales about Anglo-Indians who even gave their lives for fulfilling their railway duties.”

However, after a mammoth contribution to railways and a domineering presence in the field, the Anglo-Indians lost their forte over time, after the 60s. Moreover, the subsequent generations branched out to other vocations.

“The generational shift was bound to happen. The book is a reminder of the glorious days of our railway history,” he says.

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