Dorabji’s Story – Railways of the Raj

MY FATHER’S OLDER BROTHER, Dorabji M. Damania, after having passed his SSC from the Parsi Orphanage at Lalbaug, Mumbai, found work as a clerk for a Parsi businessman who had a general store (hardware & provisions) in Lahore (now in Pakistan) around 1910s. He must be in his mid-20s. He was not happy with his salary and the treatment from the store-owner with whom he had many quarrels. One day a British gentleman walked in to the store to buy something and Dorabji made friends with him. During conversation the British man let out that he was actually a superintendent in the Northern Railway based at Delhi and gave Dorabji his official calling card. He was so impressed with Dorabji that he said that “If ever you are in need of help contact me.” A few months later Dorabji had another quarrel with his boss the store-owner and left the job in a huff carrying only a single small suitcase in his hand and a few rupees in this pocket. He arrived at Delhi and sought out the British gentleman, presented himself at his office and said “Sir, you told me that if ever I needed help I should contact you. Here I am.” The British gentleman, whose name I do not recollect, said “Very well, Dorabji. Report tomorrow to the station-master at the Delhi railway station with this note I am giving you”. Dorabji was employed in the railways the very next day as “Ticket Collector” even before a railway uniform could be stitched for him. After a few years as ticket collector at Delhi he took some training and was promoted to a Guard on the goods trains of the Northern Railways (steam traction at that time).

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Courtesy : Jehangir Bisney

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