Indian restaurant for the destitute

Partha sez, "Popularly known the food joint for the destitute, this 'restaurant' on railway tracks has been running for the last 51 years at the southern division of Sealdah Station in north Kolkata, India, using up the space around a couple of unused tracks, even as trains whiz past on other platforms nearby. Run today by 40-year-old Fatima Bibi, who took over the business from her mother Nur Banu at the age of 11, this joint boasts of a faithful clientele of beggars, pickpockets, platform dwellers, porters and drug addicts, who troop in for leftover and stale food at rock bottom prices."

"We hardly earn Rs.25 a day. Surely, we can't afford to spend more than Rs.5 a day on lunch and dinner. Here we can eat to the fullest for Rs.3, that's what matters. Whether the food is leftover or slightly rotting, we don't care," said Chanchal, a beggar at the station.

Some customers have just a bowlful of boiled rice water available for 50 paisa.

However, Fatima manages to make about Rs.800 a day from her "hotel". But just as there are no free lunches in this world, it seems there are no free businesses either – not a day passes without Fatima giving bribes to the railway police.

"Every day I have to pay the police personnel Rs.100 to allow me run my business peacefully. But policemen are like chameleons. On strict days they just kick my customers and me out of the tracks. However we don't give up. These tracks are ours and the next day we are back to our old place again," said Fatima.


(Thanks, Partha!)