LIFE - COLORES INFINITUM (48)
IN A RAJDHANI EXPRESS TRAIN,
IN THE MESS OF ITS PANTRY-CAR (I)
After putting curries in packets,
weights of two packets were taken to confirm if they were according to the
Indian Railways norms. The ‘observation’ based random sampling was applied for
over 100 packets cooked on-board. And the sample size was just 2!
There was no dearth of raw
material (of reputed brands). In fact, it was enough to be wasted and was being
wasted. A clear factor that puts the quality of food in trains under scanner is
hygiene and certainly, the way food was being cooked and packed there, it
The staff there, though extra
cautious, was in avoidable rush to get things done to get free soon. Putting on
gloves while using hands – I could not see it being practiced. The floor of the
pantry-car was littered with spill-over from the cooking platform. Utensils and
grills were kept below the platform, that was, again, unclean.
And above it, the supervisors,
panicked, by the increasing count of complaints in the complaint book, were
making regular visits to the pantry-car, shouting at waiters and cooks, making
them even more irregular and harsh on the ‘quality’ of the job.
Wastage – good quality raw
material for a food cooked and served with unhygienic practices – and don’t ask
about taste. Food in trains - it is simply never expected to be tasty.
Then there was another serious
issue, based on something that happened there, in fact a breach of trust, an
illegal act, for which, even lawsuits are filed - maintaining sanctity of
vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, in cooking, in packaging, and in
Though, one can never say it is
followed honestly at a place serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, it is
expected from the outlets charging you premium to maintain this sanctity, and
catering services in Rajdhani Express trains should, certainly, come under this
Vegetarian and non-vegetarian, the
cooking was on. There I saw this silly act. One of the cooks preparing the non-vegetarian
curry approached the cook preparing ‘chapatis’ (unleavened circular bread made
from wheat flour) to use his cooking stove top to roast chicken. And on the
same grill, being used to inflate chapatis, soon, the other cook was roasting
chickens. Once he was finished with his roasting stuff, the ‘chapati’ cook was
back to his work of inflating chapatis on the same grill.
For those who are strictly
vegetarian, such practices are a massive breach of trust. Even for those, who
are not strictly vegetarian (egg-eating people come in this category), they
too, will not accept chapatis cooked like this if they come to know this. I
come in this category.
I protested on this act. I said
it was a serious issue. I told them to exclude ‘chapatis’ from my plate. I
requested them to replace all the ‘chapatis’ cooked after the chicken was
roasted on the grill in the vegetarians platters. Although they said they would
do so, I knew they wouldn’t do so.
After it, I had to leave the
pantry-car for my berth.
On a day, high on complaints, when
passengers were dumping and deriding the food for its quality, they could not
have afforded another setback point – delayed delivery, and cooking chapatis
for almost 100 passengers would have taken enough time to delay it
Food quality in trains and
planes, I have had bad experiences about it. Okay, trains certainly outdo the
planes, even if you travel by a Rajdhani or a Shatabdi Express. I make it a
point to ignore pantry-car or railway station food except in emergency
situations. In flights, it is still manageable. Your options - it depends much
on the carrier and the duration of your flight.
The Rajdhani Express journey on
that day only reaffirmed my aversion to the food served in the Indian trains.
Go for it only when you are not
left with any other option (including fasting on that overnight journey)!