Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are you being served?

what is the bloody matter with our hospitality industry? it seems to me that most of its minions are treading the thin line between extreme apathy towards the customer and downright stalking.

don't believe me? walk into any restaurant and you will meet two kinds of servers. for the statistical record, these two species make up about 99.653436 % of the fauna - the rest ( do the math, will ya!) belong to that near extinct species of "normal/ satisfactory" (and that once-in-a lifetime-GREAT) category and so are, well, extremely rare, as you might have (in)correctly tabulated. sightings are few and far between.

so, the first kind is obsequious to the point of resembling Lalita Pawar's bent-over Manthara from Mr Sagar's telly-Ramayana. faced with such colonial servitude, i often make it a point to switch to Hindi. why, you might ask? besides the fact that i find that this often puts them at instant ease, it also helps to dispel lingering doubts - just in case they are labouring under the misconception that i'm firang and expecting a larger-than-my-weekly-salary tip! i have found that this usually bores away the pretenders to the "customer-is God" throne. but, scarily enough, that leaves me with the real McCoy: the STALKER.

this specimen rushes to fill your glass every time you take a mini-sip (even if it is just to make over-the-rim eye contact with the hottie at the next table, a move that is effectively blocked out by the eager-beaver); jumps in with unsolicited information about the specials (our chef does a mean chilly chicken, madam!); or launches into a paean for the kind of grapes trampled into the house wine (usually the sullied Sula, the grovelling Grover or the revolting Riviera).

during the course of the meal, he keeps rushing over to serve you, like an over- enthusiastic Punjoo hostess, right up to the last babycorn from the misspelt, yet unpronounceable, recommendation that is really just a giant veggie cauldron of unrecognisable stuff; and continues to hover expectantly, as if ever-alert to help you complete even that naughty li'l thought you might have about the partially eclipsed hottie! frankly, by the end of the meal, when he comes up, for the umpteenth time, to ask me if he can get me anything else at all, i am all too ready to scream: "how about a restraining order, buddy? do you think you could manage to procure that in the amount of time it took you to get me a chilled beer?"

frankly, by the end of this extremely harrowing performance, i am already missing the snooty, apathetic, bored-since-i haven't seen-you-on-page-three, th(r)ong left behind by the fleeing British. for this is the second species, that exalted and exclusive set that epitomise 'fine dining' in our great nation. signs (not an exhaustive list) to know that you've hit the reigning hotspot include servers that:
  • don't give a damn if you get your menus (you tryin' to tell me you need a menu to order a bundle's worth of buttery lentils, chicken tika masala, assorted Indian bread and saffron rice, lady?);
  • keep pretending not to see you, as if you're the super-hot girl who laminated and prominently displayed their misspelt v-day card, for the world to see, in the fifth grade (for the record, i never did that. would've adored the vocab-challenged bugger! and nor was i super-hot);
  • silently damn you with the unmistakable arching of their supercilious brows for requesting 'regular' water over its sparkling or still bottled avatar and (horror of horrors!) to share a dish (never mind if you have just come from Mrs. Chadha's great-grandson's mundan and poolside chaat-party);
  • with relief writ large on their faces, place a long bill that includes a hefty service charge, well-knowing that you know, and also knowing that you know that they know that you ain't gonna pay a penny beyond the bottomline. hah! gotcha, cheapskate :)
  • to add a final insult to the injury, frown at your silver credit card. "don't believe in platinum, madam? oh, and would you like the giant half-eaten naan to go? for the mongrel at home, of course?"
that's it! i'm ordering in. that's a personal pan pizza, yes, just for one. no, i don't want the weekend jumbo special. what? you don't deliver under 500 Swiss francs? or over 200 metres? uh, well, thanks for nothing, pal!

hi, Ma! yeah, for how long do you boil those orange lentils to turn them into yellow dal?

No comments:

Post a Comment