Burfi, burpy, gloomy – a train food disaster

If you’ve read this blog from the beginning you might remember me talking about ordering some train food, to be delivered at Mysore station just before we left, in this post.

I spotted the eatery Comesum – hilarious right? – on platform 1, we were departing from platform 2.

The train was there way ahead of time so we got on and waiting for the food to be delivered. Just in case though we’d taken some snacks, plus there’s quite a lot of sweets in a box in a bag nearby.

Comesum knew my train number/date/time, the carriage, my seat, my name, all we had to do was wait. So we waited, and waited, and waited. With 10 minutes before departure I was looking up and down the platform, nothing, 5 minutes, nothing, zero minutes, nothing.

The train departed, we had no (real) food, and whilst it was a bit early for dinner we started to feel hungry.

The train food sellers seemed absent, so at Bangalore station I jumped off the train but failed to get anything more substantial on the platform. From Bangalore the food sellers came on so I ordered this bhaji. It was the size of a small football and had (I guess) a similar texture and flavour, but I was hungry and it didn’t last long.

A few snacks later and I was still hungry, and without any chance of any food stations appearing before bed time.

Hold on…haven’t we got some sweets?

Jane hates sweets, Amy and I on the other hand love them.

Amy drew out a chart so we could score each one. After a while we threw the chart away as everything was met with ‘I suppose it’s alright but I won’t order this again’.

First up was Chocolate Burfi, which was sweet – no kidding – slightly chocolatey and generally something we wouldn’t bother ordering again.

Whilst we were doing this the two chaps who joined us at Bangalore – see next post – refused everything we offered them. I wonder why.

I longed for another bhaji.

Like a kid in a sweetie shop – burfi, barfi, borfi

There I was, like a kid in a sweetie shop…literally. (I still have my schoolboy humour, I’m hanging on to my youth!).

I’d been meaning to try out some proper Indian sweets since our burfi snack (on the train journey on the shatabdi from Amritsar on the Monsoon Meandering trip in 2011) but the right time had never arrived. With a couple of hours to kill until our train departed from Mysore I set off to Adyar Ananda Bhavan Sweets which we passed just before arriving at the station.

This place was huge and the array of sweets mind-boggling, plus being a restaurant it was really busy.

The server asked me what I wanted, I had no clue, what were all these beauties in front of me, what charms awaited – see the next post – and realistically how much should I buy?

I’d only really tried Burfi before, twice in fact, once in Alwar in 2009 on the Big Cats and Holy Ghats trip, and once on that shatabdi train in 2011. It was obvious that I’d have to get a couple of pieces of different burfis, but what else?

What would you order if presented with this?

train-mazing bookings

For those who’ve travelled on UK railways it’s hard to comprehend just how massive, busy and booked up trains in India get. Not only do trains get booked up way in advance but they also have people who book when all seats are sold out and they join a Wait List, hoping that enough cancellations will happen so that the purchaser can travel, and these waitlists have dozens of people on them.

The posher classes are often fully booked in advance, and this on trains with often 21 carriages, taking 60 odd people per carriage, which can run for 3 solid days. You can even book 120 days in advance of the date of travel, something I’ve been making full use of as I plan our journey around.

Booking is easy these days: research trains on erail.in, create an IRCTC account on irctc.co.in, book a train, pay using an international debit/credit card, print a ticket, eventually get on the train, show ticket to the inspector et voila.
Now there’s an app you can use, showing all your previous bookings and cutting out the need to print a ticket at all.

But it’s gone one stage further now…
You can pre-purchase your food.

No longer must you get on a train and hope there’s something being sold on the train you’ll feel happy eating, no, now you can pre-order for delivery to your seat when the train arrives at certain stations. There’s a great choice too, from Indian food (Southern and Northern), to Burgers, to Chicken, to Pizza.

I just couldn’t resist doing this and ordered a full meal of Indian dishes for three to be delivered to my seat where I’ll pay cash on delivery. It came to less than a tenner.

First you enter your PNR reservation number, from this they know your train, your carriage, your seat number and pretty much exactly where on the platform the door to your carriage will line up.

Then pick the station you want the food delivered at and which vendor:

Then pick what you want – it’s all pretty cheap:

Finish off the order, board your train, wait for your food to be delivered, pay the delivery guy, and eat.