All these mobile apps, TV forecasts are hopeless. Whenever they announce Delhi’s weather, they always understate the temperature part of it. When it is evidently 48, they say 43. I am sure today it has gone beyond 50 and they say is yet to touch 44. What the hell? Is it just me or everyone else is feeling the heat?
I am roasting, blistering and boiling. Ever since I stepped out of the air-conditioned radio cab, I am boiling in this stuffy, windless, lifeless weather. And railway station is probably the worst place to be in, at this time of the day. Luckily the train has arrived already and all I need to do is to figure out my coach. AC-III tier – shouldn’t be a problem finding that out. I find it. People with a dozen suitcases each have blocked the narrow entry. The other door is even more stuffed. I decide to wait, dribbles of sweat trickle down into my eyes causing a sharp burning sensation. I rub it off and check the railway chart stuck on the train. There are just two females in the coach, one 23 and another 26 but none of them is in my compartment. I think about the dwindling female population in the country and feel sad. The last suitcase gets inside and the man grins sheepishly at me. I remain impassive. I get inside the train and am welcomed by an extremely cool compartment. I let go off my bag and do the famous “Shawshank Redemption” pose. I find my seat and crash on it. Within no time, I am dry again. Although a layer of salt accumulates on my body which I decide to scrub off later. I open a book and read half-heartedly. People around me start complaining about the system. I get jaded and sleep.
I am stirred to life again by a creepy looking man. He somehow finds me amusing and grins incessantly and all this while he mutters just 1 phrase “Veg or Non Veg”. I say Veg and he goes away. Everyone around is slightly drowsy. Those with home-made food are gobbling up food hungrily. An old man burps and then lifts his bum. I rush to the washroom before the catastrophe. On my way, I see Female 23. She is clearly 28. She looks at me, I look at her and she looks away. I scratch my head and go straight to the washroom. I gargle and wash my hands. I also wash my face. On the way to my seat, I notice that Female 28 is trying to climb onto the top berth like Spiderman. I smile. She makes a bizarre face. I look away and continue walking.
The creepy man is back with some 20 odd food trays stacked on top of each other. I admire his jugglery. He looks at me, checks my seat number and places a plate on my seat. The plate is ludicrously covered with Aluminium foil. I rip the foil open. There are three bowls inside the plate; all are covered with Aluminium foil. The first one has yellowish rice. The yellowness is unintended. There is “matar-paneer” in the other bowl. The matar is undercooked and paneer is overcooked. The gravy is grainy because of the extra spices. The third bowl has Daal which is awfully thick. It is bright yellow in colour, and looks more like a cake than lentil soup. The extra brightness of the daal is unintentional as well. There is a paper spool on the side of the tray in which three rotis are rolled neatly. I take them out. They look leathery. There is a small packet sealed firmly. That one contains mixed pickles. There is some cutlery too. The spoon has smudge marks. I rub it with a tissue which the plate thankfully has. It is all very repulsive.
I start eating. The paneer as I guessed earlier is overcooked. The gravy tastes bitter and to top it all the pea seeds are extra hard. The rice is lumpy and it is akin to chewing dried up adhesive. My salivary glands resist by not flowing their secretive juices. I decide to excite them with the rotis instead. Rotis, I realize are made up of some unbreakable material. My hands revolt hence I employ my sharp incisors to the job. They combat valiantly and I end up gobbling a morsel with the bright yellow Dal cake. My oesophagus chokes and I start hiccupping maniacally. There is no water. The bum lifter old folk hands me a bottle of water which I thankfully accept. I am angry at the quality of food served in the train but I am hungry too. I try to tear open the pickles packet. The packet is vacuum sealed, I reckon. The cover is irremovable. My nail breaks while trying to tear open the packet. I open it using my teeth again and finish two Rotis with pickles. The leather of the rotis hurts my stomach. The creepy man comes back, hands me a glass of water and asks if I wish to have some curd. I say no, he again grins at me. I try wearing the lividest look that I can, he mutters some inaudible joke laughs and goes away.
I collapse at the sleeper bed and fall asleep.
This post means nothing. This post has no hidden meanings or morals. This post just wishes to highlight the pathetic food served in Indian Railways. Dear Rail Minister, while flagging off different projects for the railways, please do take care of the food part as well. The citizens of this nation are not accustomed to eating leather instead of rotis, glue instead of rice and salty cakes instead of Daal? And what’s with the pickle packaging? You want us to grow claws before boarding a train or what?