Nostalgia: Indian Railway Canteens and Meals!

Today I just happened to read a news item regarding a Mumbai railway canteen which is serving only biscuits and samosas due to policy decisions. And, suddenly all the nostalgia came surging back to me!

Call it fate or coincidence, in the late eighties and early nineties I used to miss the connecting trains on my journeys from Mumbai to Guwahati almost always getting stranded at Howrah. But during my nights at the second class waiting room floors I used to have sound sleep, Because, I always had the sumptuous thali (rice plate) at the Howrah railway cafeteria. All the varieties were there--vegetarian, fish curry plate, egg curry plate or the chicken thali. The food was homely, innocent and always tasty. To make matters ecstatic, I was ravenously hungry on all the occasions!

Not only at Howrah, all of the railway canteens anywhere in India appealed to my gastronomic mind hugely. They looked so welcoming and appetizing. It was a comfort zone, almost a home where you can barge in with all your luggage, relax and have a wholesome homely tasty meal. The service was good too. Even now I long for them. Get nostalgic about them. I have been missing them for a long long time and hope the delights are there still.

Maybe the nostalgia has a lot to do with my basic characteristics. While on long train journey I used to be very healthy and hungry. So I always enjoyed the food offered in the trains--particularly the rice plates for lunch and supper. I used to wait impatiently for them to arrive at my seat and had them immediately. When Ragini was around with me things were little tricky! She was my opposite, almost loathing the thalis. She used to just peck on it and so normally only one thali had to be ordered for the two of us. And so, with the warm attractive thali in front of me, I had to wait for her to make up her mind to finally have it or even I had to woo her telling how exciting the items looked and that it was always justice to eat while the food was still warm! You see, though my urge was overpowering, I was not so selfish to start devouring before my wife joined me!

Are you getting ready for the Indian Railway Thali or are you just plain bored?


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