October 30, 2010

Aladdin and the lamp


What is common between Aladdin and an archaeologist? Nothing much except that if you are a railway archaeologist, as Raj is, you are going to come up with an interesting assortment of mechanical gadgets dug up during the course of research, maybe even an antique brass lamp that cast its orange warmth on a station master’s desk a century ago.
.
It would be superfluous to introduce Shri Rajendra Aklekar here. He is already known to readers of this website. Besides being a Special Correspondent with the Hindustan Times, he is a steam train enthusiast, a DHR fan, and a railway archaeologist who has done the impossible task of trudging all the way along Bombay’s rail tracks researching station buildings and trackside looking for artefacts of a bygone age left behind by those two giants of old—the GIP and the BBCI Railways.
.
If there is anyone here who secretly feels this is a silly preoccupation, he needs to think again before forming an opinion. Rajendra has come up with some extraordinary discoveries; his findings along the BBCI route have been published in a supplement of Shri Anoop Jhingron’s Western Railway: Heritage, Traditions and Legend. And that’s no mean feat.
.
The pictures you see here show an antique lamp discovered by Raj at Masjid Bunder station, which now is now on display in the musuem at Bombay VT station. See the close-up below : this lamp was manufactured as far back as in 1857 by Turner & Allen of London.
.
Pictures courtesy of Rajendra Aklekar