It is important to understand that Puneites do not travel to Mumbai by a train. They travel on the Deccan Queen. Now, for those of you who haven’t heard of this train, I can only wish you better luck with your future endeavours.
The Deccan Queen is an institution, not a train. It is quite simply a way of life.
Passengers reach about 11 minutes before the clock reads 0710 hours. For those of you, who are clock challenged, this translates to getting there at 0659 hours. I know you are wondering why all these seemingly trivial details are being thrown at you for no fault of yours, but it is important to understand the culture and fabric of the #DQ passenger.
Now, once you are settled into your AC chair car, you will soon be enveloped by an influx of people with bags of varying sizes and shapes, who will begin to take all available space around you. Mind you, it is important to just sit back and watch this saga unfold. This will be followed by a uniformed gent with an anodised aluminium bucket stuffed with drinking water bottles. Interestingly these bottles at some point of time rested in a freezer; And it is a different matter that the dripping water from the condensation will wet your clothes even before you open the #Railneer as it is called.
I wonder why they call it that. Obviously branding isn’t their strength. We have horrid images of water on trains and the last thing on your mind is drinking from a bottle that calls itself the water of the railway! Anyway that is a brand issue and of no relevance to this matter.
The excitement begins soon after the train leaves the station ( you can set your watch to this, as it is almost always spot on time ) when this familiar face comes to you asking, if you would like breakfast and rattles off the the predictable #DQ list of cheese toast, toast omelette, omelette sandwich, chicken cutlet, veg cutlet, baked beans and cheese sandwich…
Now, this hasn’t changed in the past 20 years that I have used this train. All equally good, oily, buttery and served on plates that have more oil then paper on them. Yet, there isn’t anything like this on any train.
Unique flavours only the #DQ pantry car can serve. I yearn for it days before I take the train. It is almost orgasmic to indulge in this festivity of food. It is of course a different matter that, i will order 3 of these snacks available on the menu.
One for me, one for my greed and one for the journey.
Yet, last week when I did take the #DQ something was monumentally wrong…
At first, I was shocked to see that the #DQ wasn’t on Platform #1. Now, this is as bad as reaching your wine store only to find it a dry day.
These things are not meant to happen. Period.
For those of you who haven’t had the unique honour of seeing our station, trudging to the 5th platform necessitates the use of this invention created by man, the ramp. It is universal truth that ramps were made for wheels and not for feet. And a ramp that is visibly wet, muddy and slippery, is far from my idea of safe travel. Now, if you are at my ripe young age, walking isn’t a particularly exciting thing, leave alone walking against the forces of gravity.
Well, so be it. Some kind jerk thought it sensible. God Bless his soul. May he never invent again.
One can take all this in one’s stride ( not easy mind you! ) but getting in and being told that you won’t get toast and only plain bread instead is the last straw. It beats the principles of the universe. As I said, these things are not meant to happen.
The #DQ toaster has been sent for repairs. Now this should be making the headlines. Who really cares of what is happening in Bihar or UP. This is what Pune must know. And my media fraternity is free to make it investigative if they like-
‘Railways Cash Strapped – No Funds to buy new Toaster ‘
‘Cash Strapped Railways Seeks World Bank Funding to Invest in new toasters’
I mean, the possibilities are endless and yet, we ignore such critical matters and focus on absolute nonsense day in and day out.
Monumentally wrong, is what my fellow columnist Ashish Kulkarni would term this.
Now I know what he means. Must not happen. Period.
#The views expressed in this column are the authors.
Jd also consults in Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing, both of which are integral to his brand interventions.