When The Hunger Pangs Strike: Next Alternative After Jo'z?
Night canteens have been an integral part of the Campus life here at NITR, serving the populace with midnight cheat meals for a long time. As they are the only source of fighting hunger after the moon comes up, they are very popular among the NITR Junta. Given their significance, Team MM decided to review the night canteens on the basis of multiple aspects such as hygiene, quality of food, accessibility, etc.
Homi Bhabha Hall Night Canteen:
Considered the best Night canteen in the Institute, the HB hall Night canteen is a tale of good food and satisfaction. This is located in an alley beside the HB hall Cycle stand. What sets this Night canteen apart is the friendly attitude with which every student is welcomed. The owner is a very amiable person and is patient and polite with every customer. On top of this, the taste buds’ response to the food is what makes every person come back for more. The quality and quantity of the food are high, which are key factors behind its popularity. The crowd consists of students from other halls mainly. The food is also prepared in very hygienic methods right in front of the students, ensuring no doubt about the hygiene from the students. There are many dishes on offer like varieties of parathas, rolls, Maggi, packed items and hot and cold beverages. The egg-chicken paratha is said to be the most famous item on the menu, priced at a meagre 40 rupees. The facility to have a credit system is also present if you are a regular customer. But owing to the kind nature of the owner, it is quite common to see people using the credit system.
Satish Dhawan Hall Night Canteen:
The SD hall night canteen is mostly under the shadow of the SD hall day canteen. It is located under the kitchen, equidistant from both the clusters of blocks- A, B, C and E, F, G. It is not very popular amongst the boarders of other halls and the crowd is mostly from SD hall, owing to its proximity. The overall atmosphere of the place is “not very appeasing” according to multiple student opinions. The owner and workers are not very welcoming and it is confusing for a new customer to get his food on time. The wait time is also usually high, due to these confusions. The atmosphere is such that many people are working at the same time on different things and the operations seem unorganized. The menu consists of the typical Night Canteen Menu with items like Parathas, rolls, omelettes, Maggi, chicken pakora, packed items, beverages, etc. Occasionally, Biriyani is also served. There is room for improvement in the hygiene department. The quality of food can also be improved as the same amount of money can fetch you food better in quality and more in quantity from night canteens of other halls of residences.
Vikram Sarabhai Hall Night Canteen:
The Vikram Sarabhai Hall is the first hall to get two operational Night canteens with the new one being in operation from recently. The old Night canteen is housed at C block cycle stand, while the new one is located on the 2nd floor in front of the main entrance of the hall. The old night canteen has been in operation for a while now and has only 2 people working. It offers items on its menu such as Rolls, parathas, Maggi, soft drinks, Tea, Coffee, etc. The number of items is less compared to other night canteens. The rates are also standardized, but the popular opinion is that food quality can be improved. The hygiene of the preparation methods also has room for improvement. The option for credits is also available, which is a bonus for the student. The food quality has improved when compared to earlier. Even the regularity in opening the canteen has improved after a complaint on the same.
The new night canteen is a hit among the students as it has a variety of items on offer and also at a reasonable rate. It is very hygienically cooked with the workers wearing hair caps for hygiene. The menu is more or less the same, but it is more hygienic. There are 4-5 workers in the new Night Canteen at any given time. A washbasin has been constructed nearby for hygiene. Proper chairs and tables have also been provided for a comfortable eating experience. The fact that the eating area is indoor, compared to the old night canteen makes it the better choice during winters. The superior ambience and comfortable seating make it the better choice for the boarders.
While the night canteens for the boys’ hostels function during the time it should function- during the night, the girls face a problem as KMS and CVR have night canteens which close at 12:30 am. This is a very big hindrance for the boarders as they aren’t allowed to go out of their hostels and night canteens are their only source of food during the night.
KMS Hall of residence
With Mrs Lalu Behera and her two daughters working tirelessly for the last 3 years to keep the night canteen functional, it’s quite a hit amongst the students for the variety of pre-packaged snacks it holds. The service gets a little slow when there are a lot of students to cater to but it has an amicable atmosphere with an air cooler which is used to beat the hot summer hues. Maggi, Chowmein and Aloo Paratha seem to be the daily staple there, with the rest of the menu items not available on most days. Chhole Bhatore and Patties are also one of the most popularly bought items there.
Paromita Sarker, a sophomore living in KMS Hall of residence, has the following complaints regarding it:
The prices are fine and moderate but the night canteens should be open for a longer time so that we don’t have to stay up hungry when we’re studying during exams. Also, the night canteens need to be open everyday but that’s not the case during winter or the summer holidays. The kitchen should be more hygienic and maintained.
The night canteen accepts cash and online payment only through Google Pay and is operational from 6 pm to 12:30 am.
CVR Hall of residence
Chumki didi runs the night canteen with great zest and gives off a very welcoming atmosphere for students. Despite being housed in a very small place, it has a lot of eateries to provide. Like the rest of the night canteens, it has the usual food items and accepts cash and Google pay.
A boarder expressed her views:
It’s not too fancy but it’s not shabby either. It’s a respite from the terrible mess food.
The students say that the night canteen closes around 12 am but the warden of CVR Hall of residence, Prof. Poonam Singh had the following to say:
The rules laid down by the Chief Warden allows the night canteens to function till 12:30. However, we have extended the time till 1 am for the students.
DBA and MSS night canteen
These night canteens are very popular as they seem to be accessible to girls and boys alike. It is not very unlikely to find a crowd here all the time. Chicken Dosa is one of the unconventional menu items found here. Like the rest of the night canteens, it’s not very hygienic but it’s a common spot for gatherings.
The MV Night canteen has not been very functional since the winter holidays for reasons unknown to people.
A first-year was a witness to this:
The owner of the night canteen is not a good businessman and it often remains closed.
It is safe to conclude that although the night canteens give some relief from the bad mess food, it does need to get upgraded in terms of hygiene and quality of food. A few night canteens are also said to have discrimination against the foreign students as they sell food at a higher price to those unaccustomed to Rourkela. There is no denying the fact that the night canteens are providing a very good service but having a tendering process for the mess every couple of years will promote healthy competition for improvement of food quality and to keep the process in check.
The lack of alternatives in food joints
Despite the availability of more eating joints and night canteens, Hexagon and Jo’z were the only ones with a varied menu of food items at a subsidised cost. After the demolishing of Jo’z in the campus, the monopoly market has led to the decrease in quality and a decline in the service of the Hexagon restaurant due to overcrowding on most days. There have been quite a few occasions in which insects were found in food and it seems that the overall hygiene has deteriorated.
Team MM took up the issue with PIC for Campus Business, Prof. Samir K Patra, and inquired about the tendering process for setting up a food joint in the campus.
The tendering process was opened in December. The stalls which want to do business in the campus are supposed to approach us and we review them on the basis of their cost, in consultation with a few people and the accounts section. Then we put them for tender with certain conditions and then we call them for an interview. We’re looking into the matter and we’re asking for quotations and it’ll be done by the end of couple of months. Not many students are capable of affording food outside so instead of asking for more restaurants, the mess food should be bettered. We’re also trying but the students should also not negotiate with the quality of the hostel food. The problem is that it’s not easy to find good quality food at a lower price. It’s not a big city, it’s Rourkela so meeting the demands is a little difficult. We’re very fortunate to have cooperative faculty and students and we’re trying very hard. In my opinion, if the students try for an airport than a restaurant in Rourkela, it would be a bigger achievement.
Team MM hopes for better avenues for food in the future to met out the disadvantages of night canteens and promote a healthy competition for better food quality and lead to an increase in efficiency and accessibility.