The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Funny tales of Iron Sherpa

Siliguri, Nov. 3: It is the love for the “funny little things it (Darjeeling Himalayan Railway) does” that inspired Terry Martin to write what is called the “Bible for anyone interested in Darjeeling and its remarkable history”.

So he told The Telegraph during his recent visit to the region, less than 10 days after the release of The Iron Sherpa — Darjeeling and its Remarkable Railway, Volume 1 — the History.

“The way it stops, then goes back and again climbs up — it’s all so beautiful, unique and charming!” said the retired British civil servant, who quit his job to pursue his love for the steam wonder.

The author of Halfway to Heaven, his earlier book on the DHR, was here with an eight-member team to shoot a video, to be added as a complimentary gift to the second volume of The Iron Sherpa, to be released next year.

“I put in six years of intensive research for The Iron Sherpa,” Martin said.

What can be called the most exhaustive work on Darjeeling’s history, the 368-page book, priced at a whopping £ 49 (Rs 4,100), tells the history of the region, little of which has ever been published before. There are 360 illustrations and 18 maps, drawn exclusively for this book by Gordon Rushton, a former general manager of UK’s Ffestiniog Railway, who also came here for the shoot.

Betty Shaw, to whom the book is dedicated, was the wife of Jimmy Shaw, the general manager of DHR (1944-48). “She was here during World War II, at a time when the DHR was under threat. She told us fantastic stories of that period,” Martin said.

Stories of her stay at Elysia Building, which has recently been renovated to house the DHR museum, have found place in the book. “In the video, Betty Shaw (now 93) will do the voice over,” Rushton said.

Martin also tracked down James Sinclair, whose ancestors, according to The Iron Sherpa, founded Kishanganj in Bihar. “I was interested in Kishanganj because a leg of the DHR used to go till that town earlier,” he said.

Both the books and the film are non-commercial ventures of people who can rightly be called DHR-fanatics.

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