When It Rained Food In Swarn Shatabdi  

Nothing is static, such is the nature of the universe and you realize that from the moment your step into the executive class of this train running from Delhi to Amritsar

new delhi railway station
Early morning at New Delhi Railway Station, platform 1

Words and photographs: Ambica Gulati

Life is all about movement. So when we were invited to review Radisson Blu MBD Ludhiana, it was actually a step into a time machine. We had left that town 25 years back and there were some bittersweet memories. But curiosity to see the city now was a stronger emotion.

And the journey began with a smooth ride to the New Delhi Railway Station. But nothing could have prepared us for the food that kept coming in this four-hour journey. So the Swarn Shatbadi Executive Class has ample leg space and corridor between the two rows. With only two chairs on each row, it is probably one of the more comfortable trains to travel on.

Luckily, unlike other times, we didn’t have to fight for suitcase space on the rack above. Greeted by newspapers, we were given a two-litre water bottle. And as the train started on its forward motion, a tetra pack of Amul masala buttermilk arrived. And the time was 7.30 am.

train breakfast 1Now after about 20 minutes, the tea comes with hot water and a ‘chai samagri’ with a digestive biscuit pack. We had barely managed to finish this when the server hands us a pack of cornflakes. My sister and I looked at each other, a wry smile on our faces. We should have avoided the biscuit!

train breakfastSo we politely asked the server to put only half a bowl of milk. This demolished in about 10 minutes, the breakfast tray arrived. We had opted for a tray of veg cutlets and another with an omelette. Now it was close to 8.45 am and we had been eating since 7.30 am! So by the time it was 9 am, we were quite ready to doze off, having eaten non-stop for almost one and a half hours. And we kept wondering why we didn’t exercise our right to stop eating!

ambala station
Ambala station

The journey back was equally a foodie’s non-stop guide to dining. But this time it was 7.45 pm! The train was almost an hour late when we got on at Ludhiana. The stomach was growling and we expected a scrumptious dinner. The journey home also began with a water bottle. And then came soup, vegetable soup with hot buns and butter. I was hoping it would be tomato and looking back I found a lady had tomato soup on her makeshift table. A wry smile on my face, I turned my head and craned to see what the neighbours were eating. The seats ahead were busy sipping their veg soup. We would have like tomato, but veg wasn’t bad either.

train dinner

So while the dinner wait happened, there were about 11 people from a family who had seats in different coaches but they moved around so many people to sit in the same compartment. Even the TC was shaking his head at this. India, irrespective of who you are behaves the same; it likes to shuffle things to suit its own needs.

So while the lady kept distributing sweets, chips and packets of chaach to her family whom she had managed to collect in the same compartment, we dug into some dal, rice, paneer, roti, salad. It was a lot but then an Indian thali is about a full, fuller meal. And dessert was butterscotch ice cream by Amul! Though, it looked like a lot of food at the moment, thank god for that as we reached Delhi late after midnight.

Food might not seem like a necessity but it kind of heightens the experience of traveling in a train like Swarn Shatabadi and it saves the trouble of carrying lots of items from home.


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