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Six Days Seven Nights – The Fourth Night
The Fourth Night – 17-Oct-2013 :
RCF was a typical nondescript station with traffic mainly being employees moving in and out of the factory moving to Jalandhar and beyond. As we deboarded the flying camel aka Firozpur DEMU a convoy of cars with SBI Kapurthala Branch executives liberally expressed their warmest greetings and quickly whisked us away to the main administrative building of RCF Kapurthala. An armed security escort & pilot was missing which could have completed the PM convoy treatment. A quick history of Kapurthala in a condensed form was displayed along the hallway as we were made to wait in the main conference room. Punjabi hospitality at its best as we were immediately served tea and refreshments and with no further delay, the GM (Yes, The General Manager himself) welcomed us and started off with a short 10-minute video of RCF and its capabilities. I have to insist that this would have put any marketing collateral and NGC documentaries to shame and one of the moments which would make you proud to be an Indian and to see what we are capable of. With the video out of our way, a constructive discussion followed and the Railfans in us came up with our curiosity and wanted to know a lot of stuff and had tons of suggestions to share. However, respect is mutual and the fact that the GM of RCF had actually earmarked close to an hour for us is not to be taken lightly and we did not intend to waste much of his time. The discussion centered mainly around augment LHB coaches production capacity, role of Rae Bareilly and ICF in the longer term. Most of the suggestions centered around CBC coupling and its asociated jerks, how LHB AC expresses have taken Rajdhani livery thereby stripping the Rajdhani’s of its exclusivity, charging points in side lower berths of LHB’s etc. As we neared the end of our discussion, the GM assigned his right and left hands to make us feel comfortable and satisfy our curiosity. We thanked the GM for his time and set forth on our mission, only this time a couple of more cars was added to the convoy.
As we entered the main shop floor, we were instructed not to click any pictures or shoot videos of any work or machinery within the premises. However we were allowed to carry our cameras and mobiles. The factory area had a fluid workflow based layout and was long enough to consume close to a kilometre and a half of your daily walk schedule. No wonder the workers seemed fit and pumped up. I do not want to detail too much on the layout and work involved for one simple reason as its been close to 20 months and I am unable to recollect in vivid detail and the lack of photographs to refresh my memory, however the workflow was very fluid and with some state of the art machines. The factory is divided into multiple divisions to handle specialized tasks. Needless to stay, it all starts with precision cutting of the outer body, floor, moulded roof and all the larger parts of a typical LHB coach. Precision laser guided computer controlled machines subsequently cut out windows, door openings, conduits for electrical circuits etc. A second division gets the undercarriage assembly prepared in parallel along with another dedicated bending machine which creates the door frames fully automated in the blink of an eye. As we move towards the end of the long 1.5 km walk the entire skeleton of a typical LHB coach is ready as bare as it could be. As we move forward the undercarriage and the wheel assembly is integrated onto the body.
We move out of the main assembly area and walk around the sand blasting section where the body is bombarded with fine sand at high speed to increase adhesion as it enters the paint job. We moved on to the painting section and looking at those freshly painted coaches was a sight which would probably remain etched for a while. Next stop furnishing & electrics. Seats, berths, Cushions, curtains, wiring , electrical fittings and everything else you see around. This is where the authorities let us have some fun. We were allowed to get into any of the finished coaches and have a look around and were allowed photgraphy with their permission. We spent a good amount of time here and the authorities let us indulge. Lots of group clicks and clicks of brand new coaches smelling of fresh paint made us forget the long walks in oppressive heat. The final section would take care of couplers, cables, hotel load pipes, brake pipes and everything else along with Zone markings as and when it gets ready to be shipped to its respective zone
The entire factory visit lasted close to a couple of hours and by then the long walks and oppressive heat had taken a toll on us. Lots of water and queestions later, we were given a tour of residential facilities within RCF and it ended with tea and refreshments again at the sprawling golf course of RCF. We thanked RCF for their exceptional treatment and promised to be in touch. However, it is not yet over. SBI now decided to take it a notch higher and wanted to prove that there is no limit to warmth and generosity of the Punjabis. They had planned a delicious buffet lunch for the entire team at their premises. A sumptuous meal followed by generic discussions and it was time to bid goodbye as we did not intend to overstay the reception. We were dropped at Kapurthala station and a late running DEMU was just in time to rescue us from the unrelenting heat. A couple of crossings and another bone rattling ride later, we were back at Jalandhar on our way to our hotel to freshen up and gear up for the next activity
After a long hot day in relentless heat, it was time to unwind, relax and move on back to The Capital. Our return to Jalandhar was delayed significantly due to a couple of crossings on a single line section. The locals on seeing such “irregular” travellers along with them on the DEMU were naturally curious and interesting conversations ensued. The one that stood out for me went something like this. The conversation was in Hindi, but I present only the subtitles in English here.
Local : Where are you going from here ?
Me : Delhi
Local : Oh, there are a couple of trains right away, you can take whichever you want.
Me : No. We have reservation for a night train.
Local (With an expression of disbelief to his friend) : Bro, looks like they have reservation and all.
Back to our rooms in the hotel, we needed something to lift our spirits up and just as you have guessed, Bingo, Punjab was bone dry as well. However, we managed what we wanted and reached the station to board the Udhampur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla AC express, which has a reputation of reaching Delhi 30 minutes before time. What we did not expect us was that the train sneaked silently onto our platform with no announcement and we just had a couple of minutes before we realized that it was our train. Before we realized what happened, tiredness took us hostage and the eyes came back to life a good 30 minutes before the scheduled arrival of our train at Delhi woken up to some high pitched screams from the coach attendant. The brain came back to life 5 minutes later.
As the southwest monsoon sets in full glory, time to revisit the beautiful Sahyadris range bhor ghat section in the western ghats.. Video shot onboard Bangalore – Mumbai Udyan Express in Khandala – Karjat section.
Almost There …
CST Bound Udyan express curving through into a tunnel. After clicking lots of entries & exits into & from the tunnels, wanted to save some honors for the rear of the train 🙂
Know Your Food – The Maggi Fiasco
The lead in Maggi and the subsequent outrage, ban, hullabulla, off the shelves drama and all that fiasco of a non existent, dysfunctional and yet another corporate greed oriented useless agency which goes by the name of FSSAI (Food Safety & Standards Authority of India) is the least of our problems. What Nestle is doing is the norm for every single packaged food and processed food industry across the world. They fool the gullible into believing that the the shit you eat is the epitome of nutrition and we have the a bunch of ignorant and overrated actors endorsing brands as long as they are paid. I still recall that Lisa Ray’s sprite ad where she emerges out of the bathtub and exclaims in a husky voice “Sprite, meri glowing thwacha ka raaz” (Sprite, the secret to my glowing skin). The ad ends with Sprite’s typical in your face sarcasm. Well, neither Lisa Ray nor Sprite are any better than the rest anyway.
Lets get to see what is in Maggi and explore the infinite goodness and well being that it gets into your daily life so much so, it is recommended by one of the overrated actors with a “Pay me and I will do whatever you want” attitude to have it as the first meal of the day after an early morning workout.
Read the labels would you ?
Before you actually go to the calories per serving, spare some time to take a look at the ingredients list. I suggest three simple rules to follow to help you make an informed decision before you purchase that healthy food with natural goodness of real vegetables
- 1. If it has a long list of ingredients (>6) don’t eat it.
This is the ingredient list of a sample healthy simple multi grain potato chips.Dehydrated potato, vegetable oil, potato starch, rice flour, seasoning, cheese solids, milk solids, yeast extract, whey, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, buttermilk, onion powder, sour cream, natural & artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, turmeric, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate,lactic acid, wheat bran, sugar, oatflour, MSG, pottasium chloride, dextrose, mono & diclycerides, citric acid, silicon dioxide, ferrous sulphate etc.Phew all that crap for just a pack of potato chips. Just slice those potatoes, fry it and eat it.
- 2.If you cannot understand what is in the ingredients list, just don’t eat it.
Cannot get any simpler.
- 3. Read the first 5 ingredients carefully.
As per international regulations, ingredients should be listed in descending order. For example, the first ingredient in the list contributed the largest amounts and the last ingredient contributed to the least amount in a processed food. So if you know sugar(s) is in the top 3, the food is loaded with sugar. The manufacturers have a way to get around this and I doubt if this is really followed except in a few countries across the world.
OK, now that we have set the context right, lets dissect Maggi starting with noodles and follow it up with the MASALA TASTEMAKER.
Wheat Flour : Simply put, it is maida. Real whole wheat flour is referred as Atta. Maida is heavily refined atta. In other words, there is very less or no nutrients with a high Glycemic Index (GI). It is a simple search to find out what high GI foods unleash in your body. You can read the details elsewhere, but in summary it messes up your insulin and pancreas in the long run and will reward you with diabetes.
Edible Vegetable Oil : Instant noodles are normally flash fried leave large traces of Edible Vegetable Oil. These contain a lot of trans fats that do not go rancid and accumulates as LDL cholesterol in our body as even our body finds it difficult to break it down into simple components. A liver can do only that much.
Salt : Well salt it is and a pack of instant noodles can supply your body close to half of the recommended dietary intake of salt. Great ! half my needs with just one pack of instant noodles? Think again.
Hydrolysed Groundnut Protein : ICING on the cake !!! (BTW, I hate that icing on the cakes .. )Whoa that is some real healthy stuff. You have extracted that healthy protein out of the groundnut. Lets look a bit close shall we ? Meanwhile, do you remember reading that “NO ADDED MSG” somewhere in Maggi. To be fair to Nestle, they did post the truth here. They have not added MSG in either the noodles or in the tastemaker, but lets take a closer look on this super healthy sounding ingredient. Glutamate is an amino acid naturally present in our human body. A derivative of glutamate called monosodium glutamate, also fondly called as MSG is formed by hydrolyzing proteins. Cooking does this to your Hydrolysed Groundnut Protein. A honest label “NO ADDED MSG”, but you still end up with that MSG ? You can also watch out for flavor enhancers or taste enhancers in the ingredients list. It is usually a 3-digit number starting with 6 and if recollect correctly it is usually in the 61x – 63x series.The packaged and processed food industry knows inside out that it is bad for you, but the profit margins, relatively long shelf life, ease of usage of these foods, the market demand , the lazy lifestyle of us consumers with a farcical demand for healthy foods has led us to this unviable and unsustainable environment. Every single health claim of packaged and processed foods are just simply lies.
No Added MSG : A claim as specific as this inevitably means that you will get MSG in your food. It just means it has not been added directly. The same goes for No Added Sugar, No Added Chemicals, No Added Salt etc.
Extra Fiber : Typically a negligible amount of fiber added artificially. It may be as small as a drop in a bucket of water. Solution – Get some real fibre eating fibre rich foods like spinach, oats etc.
Real Fruit : A drop of real fruit extract in a litre of artificially concocted chemical mixture labelled as juice. Same applies to Real Almonds, Kesar, Raisins, Cashews, Vegetables, Butter,etc. Just remember every drop of goodness has been completely extracted due to the treating and other processing that even this drop is of no nutritional value. Solution, dump this juice concept as it anyway destroys the complex carbohydrates and instead enjoy the real fruit, the way it is supposed to be.
We live in a world which is best described as alternate reality as we do not have the stomach to face the reality. The reality is every instant of our life is overloaded with toxins,radiations, toxic chemicals and complete lack of humanity. There have been multiple claims across centuries on when the great apocalypse will strike us and the world as we know it will come to an end. None of those claims make any sense as the world we are existing in right now has ended a long time ago in our quest for wealth and riches. Hope one day when all rivers dry, all the rainforests are cut, all the resources diminish, we will realize that we cannot just eat money. Eat well. Live well.