love love love it read and re read it a million times and it always makes me laugh It was a good book I started reading this before I read Under the Jam Fruit Tree but found no issue in following the book and its characters The book ends not important to the plot with the main characters leaving Sri Lanka for the UK which I suppose comes with the mass exodus of burghers during that period but fails to address this event with any great detail The ending seemed rushed and gave me little closure on what was otherwise a good book. Yakada Yaka Is The Second Part Of The Burgher Trilogy That Began With The Jam Fruit TreeWhen The Conquering British Roll Out The First Railway Steam Driven Locomotive In Sri Lanka, It Causes Quite A Stir The Smoke Spewing, Banshee Wailing, Fearsome Black Thing Hisses Like A Thousand Cobras And The Villagers Declare That This Thing Is An Iron Demon A Yakada YakaThe Burghers Who Drive These Iron Demons Have A Penchant For Challenging Authority And Courting Trouble, Sometimes Just To Liven Things Up In The Railway Outposts And So It Is That Sonnaboy And Meerwald Chase A Large Group Of Villagers All Across Anuradhapura, Mother Naked But Not Much Bothered By It, Ben Godlieb Conjures Up A Corpse In His Cowcatcher, Dickie Byrd Single Handedly Demolishes A Pentecostal Mission And Is Hailed As The Messiah Of The Railway Fraternity, And Basil Van Der Smaght Filches A Human Heart And Feeds It To The Nawalapitiya Railway Staff And To Cap It All, Sonnaboy Takes French Leave To Act In The Bridge On The River Kwai 3.5 5 It s now tennish, the colony where I stay is dark and quiet as I sit before my PC thinking about the Von Bloss and his brood.I think of all my anglo Indian friends from school and college and wonder are they hapy, contented.Carl Muller is a teller of tales. Mighty funny.couldnt put this book down..had me in splits all the time.a big fan now.plan to read the rest of his burgher trilogy there are apparently 5 books now.and he has a series on sri lankan history much like the Alexander series by Valerio Massimo Manfredi..got to give that a go too. Hilarious A funny bawdy tale that allows us to glimpse the lives of the lower class Burghers of Colombo This is well worth a read to understand the intermingling of the Sri Lankan people. It is universally known that the railway is a watering hole for the mentally deficient Carl Muller on the railways in early 20th Century CeylonYakada Yaka which literally means Iron Demon is the name given by the locals to the loud coal fired trains that belched black smoke as they wound their way around 20th Century Ceylon The book is a continuation of Carl Muller s Burgher Trilogy and compared to the first Novel in the Series The Jam Fruit Tree Click for the Review , the novel is narrow in its focus and deals almost exclusively with the Burgher communities experience as part of the Ceylon Railway Service where they primarily served as engine drivers The experience of such communities tends to be neglected by other histories detailing the experiences of the Burgher Community where they nevertheless made a significant contribution to the development of the plantation economy in Ceylon where crops such as tea gained world fame during the British era Carl Muller whose own father was a Railway driver probably drew on alot from his own experiences growing up as part of the railway community which lends the novel a particularly authentic feel to it A man who did not take kindly to discipline A vastly lovable man, true, but a pain in the ass to pompous authority On the character of Sonnaboy The novel primarily follows the exploits of Sonnaboy Von Bloss as he staggers from the footplate from one train engine to another and details his experience as a railway driver Sonnaboy s hot headed nature which is quick to take offense and who prefers to resolve situations with his fists involves a significant part of the humour of the novel From blackening the British Club Gala anniversary by releasing a volcano of smoke while driving a wood fueled train to beating up Mr Ceylon who was badgering him for a fight, the novel is packed with many such humourous incidents However, the novel goes beyond this archetype of Sonnaboy that was built up in the first book and the story reveals the sentimental and emotional side of Sonnaboy where he is devastated by the accidental loss of lives that occur which is part an parcel being an engine driver Throughout the novel, we also meet a cast of Burgher railway drivers that are equally colourful as Sonnaboy and add colour to the novel The railway attracted personalities Like Dickie Byrd who fell upon a Pentecostal meeting like Satan due to the Cacophony of sound it was creating as it was adjacent to the railway bungalow thus disturbing his rest Other colourful characters include the food connoisseur Van Der Smaught pilfering and eating a human heart which was bound for the general hospital in Colombo thinking it was ox heart and even Von Haght who was hailed as a model Burgher, in a moment of annoyance told the M.P from Vavuniya to go and put a J U M P asking Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Rita, Saint Sebastian,Saint John, Saint Christopher, can do miracles if want no So i told them This is last warning If you won t stop the rain out you go Took the cane and beat them also Mavis Kelaart and her collection of religious statues The novel is also interspersed with humourous moments such as the above which highlights life amongst the Burghers in Colombo and also touches on the trials and tribulations of Beryl s Sonnaboy s wife as she brings up their ever expanding brood of boys and girls.Like the first novel, Yakada Yaka also touches on some serious issues taking place at the time In the post World War I period, the rising Nationalism amongst the Singhalese and Tamil Communities is touched upon The Burgher s while staying out of the political discourse of the time increasingly came into contact with the other communities In the case of the railway s while the Burgher s were content with their lot of being engine Drivers Singhalese and Tamils with the benefit of English Education were jockeying for administrative roles within the railway which put them at times at loggerheads with the Burghers The novel exploits these situations superbly for comedic effect which is well illustrated from the following extract from Sonnaboy s letter to Mr Gonpala, the Sinhalese C.M.E explaining that the train was delayed due to Buffaloes.Buffaloes know the times of the normal trains so they stay in the jungle or on the side of the railway line But the train I was driving was a special Buffaloes don t know about the specials The railway pays me to drive the engine Who is going to pay me to get down and drive wild buffaloes if you think that I am going to get down and chase wild buffaloes you are a bigger buffalo than the buffaloes on the line If you enjoyed the first novel, it s well worth picking this up for a second helping of life in Colonial Ceylon. As vibrant and hilarious as The Jam Fruit Tree, but with a looser narrative structure This ribald, outrageous sequel reads like a collection of anecdotes about pre independence Sri Lankan railway life, whereas its predecessor was like a complete narrative centering on the von Blosses, a family of Burghers Eurasian Sri Lankans descended from the Dutch and Portuguese Exclamation marks pepper the narrative in overabundance, but it feels churlish to quibble over stylistic weaknesses when the novel is so alive with colourful occurrences and colloquialisms I do have some concerns about the characterisation of different ethnic divisions within the country the author clearly sympathises with the carefree, untameable Burghers than the Sinhalese or Tamil, who he describes as obsequious social climbers and insular clannish people respectively Then again it doesn t claim to be an even handed or even subtle novel, just one that memorialises a life loving people who are often overlooked in the social fabric of Sri Lanka.
- 229 pages
- Yakada Yaka (The Burgher Trilogy, Book 2)
- Carl Muller
- 17 August 2019 Carl Muller