MY DERAILMENTS WITH TRUTH – a book by Ateesh Singh

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‘My Derailments With Truth’ showcases the laughter laden ludicrous professional journey of Ravina Shekhar, a beauty-with-brains civil servant in the Department of Railway. Laced with incredible stories of infighting, one upmanship and gauche behaviourism, it is a rib-tickler.  And there are actual pictures to confirm the Railway waggery. Read it. It’s fun.

In her professional life, as a goalkeeper of truth and a drag flicker of fear, she bully-offs in the corridors of power and runs along with the ball almost striking the post in her first move. But the dumbstricken defenders of hierarchies and the brassy benders of rules ram into her tearing trajectory, throwing her into the orbit just like the spinning beneficiary of a Sunny Deol punch. Not one to be cowed down, she wipes off the sweat, shakes away the mud and charges back into the bull of this China shop. She has them on the hop again but the bulwarks of babudom, the THODs and PHODs, choke her audacious locomotion causing one derailment after another. Derailment of the system, by the bureaucracy, for the bosses.

In her personal life, Karma precedes kismet is a philosophy she understands. It keeps her going. It keeps her thinking. But the canonical  custodians of societal norms and the whining wheel of fortune crash into her idiomatic integrity, forcing her to doubt her own faith and taunt the Almighty just like Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Aaj khush to bahut hoge tum ’gibe. Not one to slow down, she collects all her chopping logic and turns off the worldwide volume button and throws the gauntlet at the mocking masters. She is pulling it off till her own timing and equations turn the tables on her. She is impetuously married off. True love can take a hike. BFFs ,Aadhira and Radha Mam, face painful derailments in their life paths, despite being partners in crime on the philosophy construct. Relatives feel relieved and fulfilled. Was kismet preloading karma?

Ravina Shekhar is left baffled and bemused. Bill Hicks is a teaser.

The author starts off by introducing the protagonist, Ravina Shekhar, as one who loves adversity and its appendages. Her career in the railway starts off telephonically with Khari Boli Englis greetings from the GM Res when she enters into a Station Master’s office without line clear. She is bewildered at the fancy designations of the railway hierarchy just as much the reader. But once you have cleared the first block section, it may not sound so intimidating. Ravina Shekhar runs through her first block section using just one grapnel, chop-logic.

The Control Office is the principal battlefield where the protagonist encounters one derailment after another as she trudges along the learning curve of her first posting in Tejpur Division. It is here where the author goes on to reveal the myriad comical animations which impact Railway working. The narrative offers a fascinating ringside view of games going on inside.  The Control Office is described as a place akin to a volcanic hotspot where one departmental plate squeezes another just to prevent its boiling magma from spilling over. It is the place of high action, 24X7, never a dull moment. In one such enthralling drama, the DOM (Distinct Operations Manager) curses a Controller by foredooming his future generation to be born with twisted genitals having unsuspected hormonal dysfunction which produced constant and continuous non chromosomatic sperm flow.

There are two chapters on the serious matter of inspections. Written in wavy wry humour laced with anecdotal elocution, these chapters offer a delightful reading into the folkways of bureaucratic methods of monitoring. The Safety Directorate is shown as the fault-finder and the defect-discoverer which constantly endeavours to invent ways and means to unscrew the unhappiness of officers. In doing so it ends up pulling out an Inspection Schedule which could keep a punctilious officer occupied for twenty days in a month, leaving the remaining ten for all other functions of railway working, be it train operations or terminal development or crowd management or manpower planning. A forty paged giant chapter on GM Inspection will have you in splits as one gorges into the sub fuscous sarcastic amusements of the God of God of Railroads.

Check it out.

‘My Derailments With Truth’ is a great entertainer. And if you have it for sarcastic wit, it is the acme point. There are many such short stories in its many such long chapters. A lot of railway working is taken to task in a satirical way, making it fun to read and yet understand the fine points of Railway administration.

There are many books on the Railway, but none as yet which provides a deep understanding into the working inside. In that sense it is one of its kinds and deserves special mention.

A word of caution though, the reader needs to get used to the salty and snappy usage of words, notwithstanding the jargon.

Excerpt

Srikapash was actually trying to shoo away the media and others as he reproached the DRC (Divisional Railway Captain) for such a rueful crowd management. All believers and non-believers were frantically trying to do their own thing with God. While the media went into frenzy with flashguns and byte-baiting, the others tried to strangulate him with garlanding till his nose and eyes got choked and blocked. Some merchants and traders flung themselves at his feet as he jumped out of his skin for cover. The Passenger Associations had already been sloganeering praises and feisty zindabads as they hoped to get new stoppages and new trains. At the same time the Trade Unions had been crying hoarse with shout-abuses and jeering murdabads as they demanded amnesty from all charge sheets and pressed for lesser working hours.  

The PHODs ( Principal Heads of Departments) got pushed and pressed as they attempted to approach the GM. It was hard but not difficult. Most made it with the help of their younger Branch Heads of the Division. The rest reached after the Gerrymandering Rail Police (GRP) and the Real Police Fauj (RPF) brought some order in this lawlessness. DRC was constantly looking at the growing uneasy in the face of the GM. He was beginning to get the feeling of despair and disgust. As the reckless Rock Show volume increased, fear gripped Browny and he got a little bit of sick in his mouth.

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