The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Continued from: 

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 wasn’t hygienic.

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 distribution.

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 category.

But, alas!

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 significantly.

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)! 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -