While much has changed for the worse, some things have definitely changed for the better, in the last five years, in India. One of the changes I am really grateful for is to be able to book train tickets online.
Does anyone recall ye olde days of yore at the railway station, standing in a queue for 4 hours to reach the head of the line only to be told “Sold out” or “Waiting list only” or only available for the next day and other such disappointing stuff. We knew full well that half the tickets had been “reserved” to be sold in the black market later that day.
Being a frequent PUNE-BOMBAY traveler this was my weekly plight. My fate was to be jammed in with a hundred other women for “floor only” seating in the unreserved ladies compartment, time after time.
Eleven years ago all that changed. IRCTC online happened and there has been no looking back. Oh the pleasure of booking a ticket from the comfort of home rather than being inspected with infinite interest from top to toe, for an interminable four hours by bored and curious fellow queue’ ers in the grubby and smelly environs of the booking office !!
Though trips are less and less frequent, I still make the odd journey on the Deccan Queen (now rather battered by age) with its tattered blue rexine covered seats and less than spacious chairs.
However one wonderful tradition has not changed. The menu of breakfast made fresh in the pantry car......
Omelette sandwich, Cutlet sandwich, Sabudana wadas , hot chai and coffee. All dripping with oil and deliciously sinful, served with “tomato” (read pumpkin) sauce.
The waiters have a great memory, taking the order before Lonavala and coming round a couple of hours later (around Panvel), to settle the bill without aid of pen and paper.
Today the price of the breakfast snack is significantly more than the original 35 paise but worth its oily weight in gold.
When you crave the fine pleasure of spacing out on train journeys and eating gloriously unhealthy stuff, or are bitten by the nostagia for the delights of chair car travel and railway food- you can whip up the following.
Omelette Sandwich Deccan Queen Style
2 tablepoons vegetable oil or butter
2 eggs, beaten
½ onion, finely minced
/1 green chilli, finely minced
½ tomato chopped fine
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large slices white bread
1. Heat the oil and a frying pan. When hot fry the onions and chillies. When soft add the tomatoes and sauté.
2. Pour in beaten eggs and fry till set. Fold into half and then fold again into a quarter
3. Butter two slices of bread. Put the quartered omelette in between .
4. Serve hot with plenty of tomato sauce and a paper napkin to wipe a shining face later.