Chennai: Many take Railways for granted and are unaware of its history and heritage. But for 95-year-old S Venkatraman, it has always been a part of his life.
Having penned six books and worked for over 40 years in Indian Railways, his undying energy defies his age. He shared with News Today his passion for trains.
THE GOLDEN DAYS
“I joined Indian Railways in 1942 as a materials manager in Hubli,” says Venkatraman. “I then worked in Madras from 1944 to 1956.”
Later, he says that the Railway Ministry hired over a 100 people across India. “I applied and moved to Delhi. I worked there till 1963.”
He then spent nearly 20 years at Varanasi and retired from service in 1982. “In 2008, I decided to return to Chennai,” he adds.
ON READING AND WRITING
Venkatraman’s wife, Dr Lalitha, was a professor at Benaras Hindu University. “I read the books she taught and even wrote articles for Railway magazine,” he says. “An editor told me to write books about our railways.”
Soon, he wrote his first book, Indian Railways at a Glance. It is a treasure chest of information on major Railway divisions, train engines, types of wagon, to name a few. “I was encouraged to write more books,” he adds.
ABOUT HIS RESEARCH
Venkatraman visited many libraries, took over a 1,000 photos and travelled across India to research for his books. “My health was affected but I continued as I love writing. I spent a lot at the National Archives in Delhi. It’s an excellent place to get any information.” His books have myriad compilations of splendid facts.
KEEP TRAINS CLEAN
When asked about his opinion about Indian Railways, he says, “I feel Southern Railway is the best. The Northern Rail divisions are good too but they still have some minor drawbacks in their system.” He adds that passengers should take efforts to keep the trains clean.
He aims to write a book on rail locomotives in the coming months. “I will be presenting my seventh book, Nilgiris Railway to Railway Board Chairman, Ashwani Lohani,” says Venkatraman.
“I have dedicated my book to him as he always appreciates my works,” he said.
He will also present the book to BBC journalist, Mark Tully, in Delhi.
Venkatraman adds, “I am happy to give free copies of my books for students preparing for Railway exams.”
Call him at 9444444865 and wish him.