Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
So the hero’s sidekick in one of those typical banal comedies of the 90s tells the air-host on a flight ‘Bhai, humari mummy ne khaana bade pyaar se bana kar diya hai, zara tave pe garam kar ke le aana’. The bemused gentleman walks off saying ‘Aap sach much bahot achha mazak karte hain’.
As cautious as I am about not making myself conspicuous in public, I don’t think I’d mind taking recourse to something on those lines, given how my insides revolt at the sight of airline food now. I am not one for extravagance but I do like worth for my money. Especially in a consumerist era like ours that believes in commodifying everything from the filth on the road to the water you drink. It is hard earned money and I think, as enlightened citizens we deserve to know exactly where every penny goes into making the product that lands up on our tables.
I travel a lot and believe me, despite not possessing the most humongous appetite you could imagine, an air or railway journey does tend to starve you. Which is why the ‘hot meals’ put me off immediately. I wouldn’t even like to imagine what it must be like for people who travel longer distances as in contrast with my 2 hour flights. Bland sandwiches with the most disconcerting fillings are your regular ‘grilled cheese toasts’, the cookies are like nuts which are hard to crack and a typical ‘hot meal’ would probably consist of fruits. The quality of keema dishes would make vegans very happy for it sure has compelled me to give up non vegetarian food altogether. All this we talk of before going into the instances of salmonella outbreaks and cases of food poisoning.
No temperature monitoring system can ever substitute for taste. It’s not like I’m not aware of the concept of budget airlines, but since food on board is paid for and purchased, I don’t see why the quality should suffer. Or even variety, for that matter. I’m fine with the fact that we don’t get free food since we paid only so much but you can’t offer us sub standard stuff after we shell out money on board. Also, why would we want to have a cup of CCD coffee when that’s pretty much what we survive on during every outing with friends?
Food on trains is hardly more inspiring- insipid pulao masquerading as biryani and veggies your mother would be horrified to even take a look at. You know your desh is truly mahaan when it comes to a few things.
We pay for what we consume. As a friend put it brilliantly, ‘You could probably sue CCD if that dessert wasn’t sinful enough’. I’m not happy about the food in airport lounges either. It’s not your favourite, local hub so you don’t enjoy going back to the two biryanis and one Zinger Curry Life and KFC offer you. What’s happening to the variety quotient? India is known for its food. Why can’t travel get a little more exciting when everything in life today is about adding frills? Why does it have to be a chore when one is forced to spend so much? Food should be a part of the comfort guaranteed.
A little more effort, I’m sure would make all the difference. Local restaurants in cities should be roped in for catering. I’d rather have Pav Bhaji from Shiv Sagar than a dessert I can buy in almost city of the country. Brand names need to be given a miss. It’s time we get experimental, which I think is the purpose of travelling in the first place. Which is why, like most areas, we need to learn to break barriers- first as consumers, then as suppliers. We need to know our money’s worth. We don’t wait a minute before asking the vegetable vendor to go take a walk when he tries to pass off stale vegetables. Why then should we accept being short changed in something as important as travel? Where are our consumer ethics?
My point remains that I do not ask budget airlines to offer more than we pay for. But we deserve worth for what we do pay for. It is part of living in a democratic society that knows its rights. Also, only enlightened consumers can produce responsible suppliers. So the ball is in our court.
Because trust me, as much as I know I’d love the food, boarding with my mother’s khaana in a steel dabba in hand will be extremely cumbersome.