ABOUT THE BOOKSet in Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus, today the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, this story takes its readers on a wild ride with a lively bunch of animals taken from the sculptures on the station’s walls who spring to life every night to chat, run races and even a foil a robbery! At the heart of the book is a missing jewel, a grandfather, his grandchildren, and the fabulous city of Mumbai. This fantastical tale introduces readers to one of India’s most beautiful buildings, and one of its most exciting cities
- Treasure at the Train Station: An Adventure in Mumbai is an engagingly narrated story set in Bombay. The story begins in 1967, in Victoria Terminus, when Neelkamal, who is transporting a rare emerald from the court of the Maharaja of Mundhol to the office of his employer Heeralal, has a small accident and manages to lose the precious stone. The book follows the story of what happens to the stone, while parallelly moving forward into Neelkamal’s future, where he is walking around Bombay with his grandchildren Nirvan and Araya. As the story unfolds, many separate storylines come together to create a delightful adventure.
- The book has a very clever and original storyline that seamlessly weaves together elements of mystery, fantasy, and history. The plot, and the desire to know what happens to Neelkamal and the stone will keep readers riveted, but the ingenious use of historical and social detailing – for instance, we learn about Angadias, messengers who are employed to transport precious stones by hiding them on their person – makes the book a surprisingly informative read as well.
- The narrative features lots of evocative descriptions of the things that make Bombay what it is. But these descriptive passages are not dense and boring! Instead, the writer makes them rich and immediate, by drawing on the now-elderly Neelkamal’s nostalgic love of the city and helping the readers see it through his eyes. Colaba, the Gateway of India, and Horniman Circle Garden are all brought alive through the author’s heartfelt descriptions. As a bonus, the book is filled with imagery of yummy Bombay treats like bhutta, roasted peanuts, bun-maska and chai, that are sure to make readers’ mouths water.
- The book’s vivid and detailed illustrations are as captivating as the story itself. Some pages are particularly striking: the excellent Bombay maps at the beginning and end of the book help readers get a sense of the geography in which the book is set, while the charming panels featuring the sights and sounds of Bombay evoke an equally strong sense of place. The use of different illustrators to work on the day and night scenes works well too. The illustrators’ widely varied colour palette and generous detailing make their pictures a pleasure to look at.
- The book is as much about Bombay and its heritage as it is about its story. For the curious and historically-inclined reader, a thoughtful section at the end of the book provides some Victoria Terminus trivia and gives a quick glimpse into its history and architecture. Some of Neelkamal’s stories, embedded within the narrative itself, are also peppered with historical detail – for example, we learn that Colaba was once an island, that used to be accessed from the mainland by boat!