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The Truth about Prison Food

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
June 2014
The Truth about Prison Food

How much does food cost in an Indian prison? One lakh a month, if you’re a rich Indian businessman and want it delivered.

That’s one of the striking revelations in a compelling profile of Saravana Bhavan founder P. Rajagopal. The restaurant chain serves South Indian vegetarian food from 80 locations around the world, including about 10 in North America and 33 in India. Twenty of the restaurants are scattered around Chennai, the hometown of 66-yearold Rajagopal.

Rollo Romig, a freelance writer in Turkey, recently profiled Rajagopal in a New York Times Magazine piece titled “Masala Dosa to Die For.” He describes not only how Rajagopal built his restaurant empire, but also how he managed to serve only 11 months of a life sentence for ordering the murder of a man whose wife Rajagopal was wooing to become his third wife.

During one of his interviews with Rajagopal, Romig asked about a rumor that the restaurateur had improved meals in the prison canteen while serving time. “You can’t change anything there,” Rajagopal said. “I had to spend one lakh every month in order to get home food delivered to me.”

“Don’t tell him about this,” a friend named Ganapathi Iyer said to Rajagopal. “Do we have to talk about the corruption?”

“They should know how corrupt we are,” Rajagopal said. “We can’t just keep bragging that we are good all the time. The truth has to be told.”

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge. 
[Comments? Contributions? Please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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