Train Spot­ting

Man­age­ment pro­fes­sional Deepak Sapra’s de­but novel is all about the chaotic beauty of train jour­neys in In­dia

India Today - - FEATURE - By Mona Ramavat

en­gag­ing prose, the book con­tains sev­eral in­ter­est­ing and colourful anec­dotes from Sapra’s days in the rail­ways. His work in­volved be­ing posted to re­mote sta­tions like An­dal or Bur­dawan in West Ben­gal. “Life in most of these small towns was of­ten cen­tered around the rail­way sta­tion; a setup that can lead to in­ter­est­ing sit­u­a­tions,” says Sapra, who on miss­ing his train to Dhan­bad for a wed­ding once, had to share a space with cat­tle on a goods train, while be­ing for­mally dressed for the do.

The best thing about train jour­neys, says Sapra, is that they con­nect peo­ple. “At any given point, at least 23-24 mil­lion peo­ple in In­dia are on trains, which is per­haps the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of Aus­tralia. The op­por­tu­nity to meet and in­ter­act with dif­fer­ent kinds of peo­ple is price­less. Swap­ping sto­ries can be deeply en­rich­ing and some of these sto­ries are in­cred­i­ble. It helps you look at life from many other per­spec­tives,” he says.

Over time, these in­ter­ac­tions have made Sapra more of a peo­ple’s per­son, a sig­nif­i­cant tem­per­a­ment shift that now comes into play in his cur­rent po­si­tion work­ing as a vice pres­i­dent at Dr Reddy's Lab­o­ra­to­ries, after an MBA from IIM Ban­ga­lore in 2002. Sapra does not miss an op­por­tu­nity to travel by train even now, “de­spite the ease of air travel.” His next book, a story in­spired from his par­ents’ dis­place­ment from Pak­istan dur­ing the par­ti­tion, was also con­ceived and shaped over another in­ter­est­ing jour­ney.

“When I was five, I used to tell every­one that I wanted to grow up to be an engine driver, and by the time I turned 10, I had the en­tire rail­way timetable of Kolkata mem­o­rised,” shares Deepak Sapra, 43. His love for trains went be­yond the usual win­dow seat ex­pe­ri­ence as a child, for he even­tu­ally ended up be­com­ing a rail­way en­gi­neer. Sapra loved ev­ery­thing about trains, and his re­cently launched novel The Boy Who Loved

Trains cap­tures some of the “vi­brant chaos” associated with them. Writ­ten in sim­ple and


Au­tor and man­age­ment pro­fes­sional Deepak Sapra

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