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Blog Entry# 2347765
Posted: Jul 09 2017 (23:07)

1 Responses
Last Response: Jul 09 2017 (23:07)
Rail News
Commentary/Human Interest
Jul 09 2017 (12:00)   Stranded and famished

rdb*^   133331 news posts
Entry# 2347765   News Entry# 307850         Tags   Past Edits
What do you do when you find yourself stuck at a railway station with a first-class ticket but no train? You eat
Well, that’s what I did. I was supposed to be on my way to Shantiniketan one fine morning, but my train had been diverted and I had to disembark barely 40 minutes into my journey. Stranded at a tiny station called Bandel, I had no idea when or how I was going to get to my destination. So instead of stressing, I resorted to eating.
It began with a flimsy bowl
of rasmalai . Soon after I’d reached Bandel, I’d noticed a middle-aged man squatting on the platform with a large aluminium vat. Inside it were three smaller vessels. The first had a pale yellow potato curry, the second carried sticky round balls doused in sugar syrup, and the third had tiny but milky rasmalais . He had a tray too, stacked with robust beige balls of chamcham .
In a matter of seconds, he was surrounded by over half a dozen men, goading him to hand over their choice of refreshment — ‘ Ekta luchi den’, ‘Chamcham koto kore?’ ‘Aye! du ta rosogullas debe’ . I soon became one with the group and asked for the first thing that came to mind — rasmalai . The tiny balls of channa doused in thick rabri were handed to me in a flimsy plastic cup. They were a little too sweet for my palate, but their texture and freshness were unlike anything I’ve ever eaten.
After having run between platforms, enquiry and ticket counters, and the stationmaster’s office, I was finally settled on a bench, waiting for the next train. With no sign of the train, I helped myself to some fresh-cut cucumber from the vendor further down the platform. Even though I wanted to resist — his methods were not most hygienic — my stomach urged me otherwise. And so, before I knew it, I was biting off a crisp, cool cucumber laced with salt and chilli powder. Clearly, that was a mistake. The cucumber acted as an appetiser and made me want ‘real food’.
But then, you are never too far from food at a railway station. ‘3 for 10’ read the sign on one of the stalls. The handwritten note hung tackily and seemed like an afterthought; the kachauris , however, were fluffy and fresh. Of course, I had to have my share of kachauri and potato curry. The kachauri was suitably flaky and the potato curry a great foil for the crisp wheat pastry.
It’s funny how stress can induce great hunger pangs. Even as I licked my fingers clean of the potato curry and wondered if I should get myself some more, I spotted a man carrying boxes of a local sweet called moa .
In my 15 years of knowing Bengali food, I had never seen something like this. I asked him for a piece. He insisted I buy the whole box, but finally relented and gave me just one. I expected the laddoo- shaped sweet to be made of milk or channa , but it turned out to be a rather interesting combination of puffed rice, date palm jaggery, and reduced milk. It was light and chewy and, unlike the rasmalai , not overtly sweet.
The food I encountered at Bandel station came as a surprise. As I chewed on the moa among the whistling engines and passing trains, I pondered on the seemingly unfortunate diversion: my sanitised air-conditioned coach would have never given me the opportunity to sample such beautiful food.
It’s funny how stress can induce hunger. As I licked potato curry from my finger I spotted a man carrying moa

1 Public Posts - Sun Jul 09, 2017

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