Off the rails

A ticket examiner captures the beauty of Indian Railways in these colourful paintings

An Indian railways ticket examiner has created beautiful art work capturing life around trains, platforms and stations.

Apart from being the largest employer in the country, Indian Railways has often been an inspiration to many a creative pursuit, ranging from travelogues to odes on the sights, sounds and romance associated with train travel. Celebrated authors from Rudyard Kipling and Intizar Husain to Ruskin Bond and Satyajit Ray have rhapsodised on the charms of the railways.

One would imagine that those who work in the railways would, however, be immune to these sights and sounds, but it's not the case with Bijaya Biswal, Train Ticket Examiner in Nagpur division of the Indian Railways. Biswal, known for his brush strokes that have in the past painted wondrous portraits of men and the world, has now turned his attention to the railways. In a series of water colour paintings, he has brought out the hidden charms and beauty of a railway junction and the lives that revolve around it.

Shared by the Salem Division of Southern Railways on their Facebook page, his art work quickly went viral, with people hailing him as a genius and some even suggesting that "he should be running his own art gallery and teaching art" rather than examining tickets for a living.

Biswal, though, says that his art is different from his work and the railways continue to motivate him to create more.

"I don't think I need to get away from my job to pursue art," he said. "My job allows me to travel and observe the platforms, trains, employment of people around it and so many other things which I try to capture in my art work."

Biswal has been working with the Railways for the past 25 years, but he he started painting much earlier and has only started getting recognition now. "I have been painting with charcoal, pens, water colours etc since the very young age of five or six," he said. "The paintings on Indian Railways aren't new either. I made them sometime ago but it's only now that they have started to get popular and people are discovering them, so there's praise but I have no plans of leaving work to pursue art. I am already pursuing it."

Here's a snapshot of his recent works where he captures the beauty of Indian Railways:









All images used with the prior permission of the artist. 



Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.

Play

The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon Prime Video and not by the Scroll editorial team.