With a decent menu, the food served by the prison inamtes at ‘My nation food court’ makes for a humble meal, an unforgettable experience for Hyderabad people with their expertise and interest.

Rajkumar smiles as he pours a glass of water. “Shall I get you a Maaza?” he asks. Ravi is taking orders elsewhere. Moving briefly from the table, he yells out the order near a window that leads to what looks like the kitchen. At the counter Ram Babu keeps an eye on the tables, the servers, the food and the cash as well. What’s different at this My Nation Food Court, a local interpretation of a QSR (quick service restaurant) is that it is run wholly by inmates of the prison at Chanchalguda in Hyderabad.

At ‘My Nation Food Court’ prison inmates serve you food
My Nation Food Court is an initiative of the Prison Department, government of Telangana started as a unique ‘reformative’ food chain on an experimental basis.

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This small eatery — it has two fans ; one whirring from a corner and another, a ceiling fan — sees customers walk in, eat quickly and move out. There is no menu card at My Nation Food Court; it is instead written on the wall, in big and clear letters with prices that will make us wonder when we see the generous portion, “Who serves this half plate biryani for ₹90.”

The servers who are dressed in their ‘prison uniform’ are not reticent. Even though they are not supposed to talk a lot, I coax Rajkumar and ask him about his home. In a distinct accent that makes me surmise he might be from the Godavari belt, he tells, “I am in because I was involved in a fight at home. I am allowed to work outside and it is nice to see the outside world,” he says.

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He recommends that I try the puri-sabji in the morning or the meals in the afternoon. As I shift my gaze towards Ravi as i try to speak to him as well, I wonder if the supervisor will allow us to chat. Ravi signals that it is ‘ok’ to talk.

Out little chat over, I ask for that bottle of Maza, and a bottle of water and request some curd for a friend I dragged away right from a dentist’s chair, soon after a tooth extraction. “Oh, is it paining? Should we get some ice? Suddenly the small team of prisoners working there, shifted their concern towards my friend and made sure we were comfortable.

At ‘My Nation Food Court’ prison inmates serve you food
In all this Ravi insists that I try the chicken biryani. “Everyday many people come here to eat. We start during breakfast hours and shut in the evening. Food isn’t prepared here but we keep it warm. A limited quantity of food is prepared and brought here, to avoid wastage,” informs Ram Babu.

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As I wash my hand in the wash basin behind me, a family walks in. The lady in the burkha settles for a veg meal, the child for ice cream and the man asks for some phulkas and chicken curry.

“Our inmates are trained to meet people, talk to them and take orders. Those who exhibit good behaviour are put on the job. This also boosts their morale and makes them look forward to the day to do something,” says DSP, Prisons, Chanchalguda, D Srinivas.

Adjacent to the eatery is a inmate-run store for handloom products made by the prisoners. The sturdy handwoven 100% cotton bedsheets do not run colour. Bath and face towels are good too. The products are all pocket-friendly.#KhabarLive


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A senior journalist, aged 54, having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe. A multi-lingual personality with multi-tasking skills on his work. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. WHO AM I An award-winning, qualified, experienced, cutting-edge and result-oriented Entrepreneur and Journalist (with a side of 'Philosophy of Happiness'...real course I promise!), my career began in India reviewing & marketing news reporting, editing and research writing. Since then, I have immersed myself in creative industry and written about everything from shamanic healing to garden conservatories, from plumbing technologies to six star retreats, and from human trafficking to the best Cronuts. Now I spend my days blending powerful language & beautiful visuals, to help brands narrate who they are, what they do and why they do it.

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