41 years later, motormen’s mentor applies brakes

MUMBAI: Malayil George John (M.J.JOHN) called it a day on Wednesday after dedicating 41 years of his life to the Indian Railways.

For over four long decades, this Senior Loco Inspector (Training) has tutored thousands of motormen at Motorman’s Training Center in the Kurla car shed__so much so that there is probably not a single motorman on the Central Railway (CR) suburban line who hasn’t benefited from John’s skill and wisdom. So, it’s not surprising that on his last day, he is surrounded by colleagues, motormen and relatives as they bid him farewell at a function in CST.

One needs to be "god fearing” to be a good motorman, insists John. "As a motorman, who has the lives of thousands of commuters in his hands, he should abstain from drinking, smoking and other vices and he should rest adequately. If one is god fearing, all these qualities will fall into place,” he said. One of the thumb rules of this veteran trainer is that a motorman should stay back home if he has had a particularly nasty fight and feeling disturbed and edgy.

John’s wife, Aleyamma looks on proudly at him, as he talks to his colleagues on his last day at work. "The only problem being married to a man in this profession is the erratic hours,” she says. "He would always be either in the control room or the institute. There were days when we did not meet each other, but with time, we adjusted to the fact that this was how life would be like. We needed to survive in this city.”

Colleague and close friend, senior loco inspector (suburban), Merywn Desa says though the institute will miss John sorely, he has done his job so thoroughly that other trainers will not face much difficulty in making up for his loss. "He trained the others so well that they will take off where he left without many hitches,” says Desa.

Motormen, who have been trained in technical, operational and trouble-shooting issues, remember John as a dedicated and emotional man. Motorman Rajesh Pillai says John was particular about keeping records. "He would take the register home if he could not complete it during work hours,” he says. "He also had a great relationship with his students.”

John credits his job for making him "a perfect man”, dedicated to family and duty. In his four-decade long stint with the railways, John has had 14 run-over cases. "The first two or three times, I felt so bad that I took two days’ leave after each accident. But later, I realised that it’s a job hazard and we are compelled by duty,” he says. And that’s what he tells the young men and the odd young woman whom he trains. "It’s a job, do it as you are compelled by it.”

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