Food – home, pantry car and local specialties
This is the devil and the deep sea of travel on Indian Railways. One side is home made delicacies by mum and friends mums, then there is the pantry car. The tomato soup, omelette and the bread cutlet with their trademark taste to make the mouth water and then finally the cultural diversity of the country in your stomach by the end of the a train journey.Be it mums fried potatoes or okra , a friends mum’s mutton biryani on the way to Leh or the Gujarati gangs theplas on the study trips. Also special mention for the Lolas by a friend who is Sindhi. All these for a quintenssial part of a train journey, making it more happening and satisfying. I remember countless occassions where I have asked my mum to make those fried potatoes at home, they just don’t taste the same. Probably eating out of a cardboard box in a moving train adds the necessary spice to it.The pantry car has some pf my favorites. The tomato soup. Its a soup make out of powder of tomato soup! But every time I go one a train journey, like a customary ritual I need to have it at least once. It only has a distinct taste and it wouldn’t even qualify as a must have but everybody I know, has had it once and longs to have it once more. My mornings begin with the cutlet in the train. My weird nature but i have started to like the dry, tomato sauce flavored cutlet.
The cultural diversity aspect now!! A train to Delhi from Mumbai typically passes through at least Maharashtra Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and the Delhi. If you google snacks that people typically have in each place combining it with what cities are famous for you are in for a culinary delight. Lets continue with the Mumbai Delhi example. When you reach Surat, the Surati dhokali comes in the train, Kota gets in the Kachori, Ratlam the Sev Poha, Pedas at Mathura.. By the time you reach Delhi which mind you is only approx 20-24 hour journey, your diet has gone for a toss and the obesity devil satisfied and drooling for more! In that so much delightful food that you are bound to miss train journeys!Card games and conversations
Little bit that I know about rummy, teen patti or other kiddish card games is all credited to train travel! Be it with friends or on a trip to a friends sisters wedding, all journeys have card games. Study trips special features included uno as well. Such is the power of card games, that fellow travelers joined, temporary friends made and long lost. A word of caution against befriending strangers as in the past there have been some unpleasant incidents with people mixing things in food and robbing. So I would say, trust your instincts and get along!
You get to meet the greatest political, economic, cricket and anything under the sun commentators. Everybody is an expert and eligible to come on news channels for debates. Sometimes you learn new things and sometimes you laugh. I met a person who suggested that earthquake because of America and china testing missiles!! You cant do anything but laugh at such comments.
I also have learnt a lot about my father, uncles and other such elderly people about their struggles, experiences, successes and failures. Interesting things to absorb and understand the depth of a person.
Check the layout of the train in the picture below. Imagine climbing up these when you are a kid. Usually your parents chuck you two hands and it was the coziest place we could be in. As kids thousands of plans for the trip were made up there based on the information we had about the hotels and places we were to visit. Conspiracy theories for back home were formulated and forgotten in matter of hours.
|Typical layout of a coach – Pic courtesy http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com|
As we grew, in study trips people started using the space for other purposes. You do get that liberty when more than half the coach is booked by your class.
Certain things that just crop up when you think Indian railways! I have been to the Eurorail, Swedish rail, various railways in United Kingdom but nothing beats the experience as a package that Indian Railways in general offers!
Would love to hear some of your stories regarding the same!