Many times, I travel from my hometown Muzaffarnagar to Lucknow by Nauchandi Express. This train runs from Saharanpur to Allahabad and is very convenient at least for the above journey. Leaving at about 6:15 p.m., it reaches Lucknow early in the morning. Thus, it is quite efficient in terms of the time taken. It has no AC first class compartment and also no pantry car. I, therefore, carry my simple packed dinner and eat it at the next stop in Meerut, where it stops for about half an hour. I also don’t bother any official of my department at Meerut mainly because I don’t want to be disturbed by them.
During one such journey, I had just finished my food when a senior officer of a particular department boarded the train at Meerut and occupied a berth just opposite to mine. Being the head of his department, a large number of local officers along with other officials had come to see him off. They all were trying to please him and had brought a lavish dinner for him from a good restaurant of the town. Since the officer knew me and my designation, he was feeling somewhat embarrassed also, particularly when there was none to take care of me. However, I was amusingly watching all this and enjoying my reading, which is my main occupation during such journeys.
As soon as the train left the Meerut station, the officer started settling down. First of all, he arranged his dinner packets properly and while doing so offered me his food, which was obviously in plenty. Since I had already had my dinner, I politely declined the offer and got engrossed in my reading. After a few minutes, he got ready to have his dinner and started opening the packets. I noticed that as he opened a packet, he immediately closed it and kept aside. He did the same with other packets also and eventually, kept all the packets beneath his berth. This created some anxiety in me and I enquired from him as to what went wrong with the food. He hesitatingly told me that all the packets contained non-vegetarian food and since it was a Tuesday, it was of no use to him. The poor fellow, therefore, had to go without dinner. May be he took some snacks at the next stop of the train.
This incident has a message in it. Firstly, simple requirements should not be made complicated. Secondly, there should be proper communication in case of personal requirements, more so, when they are made by those whom you don’t know closely. Thirdly, too much expectation from your subordinates quite often becomes troublesome. I don’t know whether the gentleman travelling with me learnt any of these or not, but my decision of carrying packed food and not bothering my subordinates unnecessarily certainly got reinforced.