Train journeys can be fun and enriching at the same time and software engineer-cum-social innovator Anupama Sharma who has traveled the length and breadth of the country through the railways, can vouch for it. The 29-year-old is so charmed by her rail experiences that she decided to launch Railonama to record not just her train stories but stories of several others.
“My father was part of the Indian Railways Accounts Services (IRAS) and every year, he would get free railway passes. Whenever a chance arose, he would take us to a new place in India. Over the years, I saw so many places that I cannot even remember some of their names.
Train journeys took me to places in India I can never forget; introduced me to different cultures, different people and languages. My train travels taught me a lot and have given me many fond memories. Some time last year I decided to write my stories and publish them in a book.
That’s when it occurred to me that if I had such unforgettable experiences imagine the experiences of other passengers? So I decided to open the book to everyone and launched a website, Railonama, where anyone can submit their stories,” says Sharma.
She rues the fact that with faster air flights, people have started discounting train journeys. Thus, through Railonama, she wants to capture stories before they are lost.
“The railways transport more than 24 million passengers everyday (more than the entire Australian population) and play an important part in the lives of many Indians. We should record at least some of the most unforgettable moments that passengers have experienced through the Indian Railway over all these years,” she maintains.
The book is aiming for a November release and stories will be selected based on the content. Stories could be simple, funny, emotionally engaging, inspiring, or with a moral teaching. Stories could also describe events during the train journey itself or at the destination. Sharma plans to select 50 to 100 stories, depending on the volume of submissions.
“We prefer to see stories that are between 750 and about 5,000 words in length. Poems have no minimum word count. Those whose story gets accepted will get a printed copy of the book. An e-book version might also be released,” shares Sharma, while stressing that the story submitted should be exclusive and should have not been published anywhere online or offline.
Last date of submission May 31
Log on to www.railonama.com