TIRUCHY: The hot Pongal (a rice dish) served with Sambar is one of the favourite breakfast dishes for most of the South Indians. This would be the reason for Indian Railways to include a Ready To Eat (RTE) version of this cuisine in its trains plying through Tamil Nadu during the pandemic. But, a video of a Pallavan Express passenger arguing with an IRCTC catering staff for charging Rs 80 for 50 grams of the Pongal put the railway officials in trouble.
The video, which went viral on Sunday, received criticisms from various quarters against the railways. Several viewers commented that the Pongal is too expensive and some of the critics even tried to link it to the privatisation of the railways.
Unfortunately, the transporter's move to please the taste buds of its customers travelling during the pandemic received brickbats from various quarters and the issue got the attention of the top brass of the Southern Railway (SR). Before things got out of hand, the SR came out with the clarification that its an RTE Pongal.
"It is ready to cook food. After opening the lid the customer has to pour hot water and wait for 8 minutes. Then, the Pongal will be ready and it would be about 220 - 230 grams," said a clarification made by the railway.
Seemingly, the passenger in the video is seen blasting out at the railways management was not aware that it was the RTE Pongal.
But, in the video, rather than explaining this fact to the customer, IRCTC catering staff was found recording the video of the angry customer. It is also unclear whether the catering staff served hot water for the customer who bought the Pongal and informed him about the process.
Thus, some officials suspect some foul play in the incident. But, the Pongal spoiled the weekend of many top officials as several people continued to blame the railways for overcharging the passengers on social media. Many of them failed to realise that it is ready to eat food as no one was saying this fact in the video and the railway officials continued to receive brickbats from various quarters.
"We have stopped serving cooked food and bedrolls on trains due to Coronavirus. But, still, we have to cater to some minimum needs of the passengers. Therefore, the IRCTC was advised to sell only ready to eat food consisting of local cuisines sourced from reputed brands. Thus they included an RTE Pongal," a source said. Unfortunately, this innovative and hygienic move of the transporter got them in trouble.