Wednesday, January 4, 2012

sometimes it rains.. and sometimes.. it pours!

a good labourious day was comin to an end.. and three of us surgical residents, mohit, aniket and i were in an awesome mood. we'd pulled off smoothly a superheavy list.. a list full of major cases that are gonna start early in the morning, and can either end predictably, or go on till eternity. n ot list is like a house of cards.. if one case takes too long.. the staff, instruments, residents.. and most importantly an OR (operating room) stays occupied.
so when the onslaught was successfully over.. we guys walked outta the institute heads held high. and as luck would have it, it was a cloudy, overcast evening and winds blowin across our face.. a pleasant drizzle soothing our brows.
three tired guys. weather like that. obvious conclusion- we hit the bar.. this place, a terrace restraunt, serves really good starters and is open on the sides.. kinda ideal for a evening of this sort.
superhungry from missin lunch, we placed the order of our usual starters right away.. salted peanuts, paneer saute, chicken tandoori and ofcourse, kanda bhajia. conversation was flowing well.. jokes, incidents, backslaps and high fives flying all over the place. and hungry wolves inside our tummies were on a happy drumroll.. savouring the scent of the meal to come.. like the one in the movie 300.
but the drumroll kept going on and on... like the bunny of the energizer battery.

it was an hour already, but there was no sign of starters. and we had already reminded the "captain" once... captain being common parlance for the head waiter who takes the orders. what sucked was we guys were new to this guy. and this guy was new to us. so the exchanges were somewhat formal, n not the usual banter we gave our regular "captain". so at the hours end we reminded him again.
as hunger, fatigue and anticipation began to creep in, the conversation moved on from jokes and banter to nostalgia, and how we, as kids.. we used to love being dished out hot bhajjia on rainy evenings after playing all day in vacations.
from the eager beaver early bird customers, slowly we were subconsciously submitting into the role of supplicants.. praying that the food would be here soon.
finally.. when the meal did arrive, i had to step back and wonder if we guys were on gods candid camera. the paneer saute was cold. not warm. not room temperature. OUTRIGHT COLD. as if it had been lying there for an hour.. while we guys were waiting for it right here, barely 15 feet away.
the tandoor was barely passable, but not really well marinated.
and then we saw THE KANDA BHAJJI
for the un-ordained.. kanda bhajjia refers to irregular clumps of onion rings that are coated with besan (gram flour) and deep fried. basic tenets of kanda bhajjia dictate that these are crisp, a little salty and 'oniony', and served HOT.
kanda bhajjia is probably the easiest snack to cook.. detangle the damned onion rings, mix it with wet semisolid besan and fry it. trust me, if done with a little attention to detail, it can win you fans for life. literally.
and what we were dished out was big thick slices of onion, coated in besan.
you guys would call us wimps.. call it desperation or submissiveness.. conversation abruptly stopped and we guys jumped at the three dishes we were, for so long, fantasizing about.
NOW imagine the disgust when you find out that saute is soo damn salty, it'd freakin sink in dead sea.
the chicken is burnt on the surface and yet raw n fibrous deep within.
and the goddamned kanda bhajjia.. which a rookie cook like ME with limited artillery of omlette, maggi and coffee can cook well, were practically screwed up.
so for the third time.. we call the captain.
and his highness walks to us with the disdain of PHD mathematician forced to teach arithmetic to first graders.
Mohit is the guy who always likes his things perfect. naturally mohit had had enough.. and assuming that this guy was "THE CAPTAIN", mohit politely tried to explain the situation to him.
(part of his politeness also comes from the fear of cooks spitting into your food if you are mean to them. damn that guy watches too many english movies!)
we realise the captain is not really keen on listening;
and this is when aniket.. the "mard maratha" joins the fray.
aniket is known to take things straight to the task. aniket offers this guy to taste whats been served.
captain refuses to taste. he is confident that the food is right.
imagine the cheek, he doesnt accept a single mistake, let alone apologise, doesnt even offer to taste, and begins to argue with HIS basic reasons..
1. anywhere in india, kanda bhajjia is served exactly the way it was served. if we wanted it to be "kekda bhajjia" style.. we wouldnt get it anywhere except in "mumbai".
2. chicken was not burnt on the outside. its supposed to be black when its tandoori.
3. Saute is a salty dish. the reason why it tastes so salty is because tongue doesnt appreciate the taste when food is served hot. items taste saltier when they are cold.
4. reason why it took so long is, we had placed the order for three items together.
so it was only "manners" that he served all three dishes together. obviously one of the dishes is expected to get cold. EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT.
now this guy was shooting us down with a mindblowing ammo of reasons. did he seem to forget that we have been having food everyday of our life? naturally our combined experience with taste beats his experience with silencing noisy or irate customers?
the reason why i am slow to anger is i always analyse everybody's point of view. and also in part because i dont like me when i am angry.
the only logical explanation about the attitude of this shiny new "captain" was probably he was worried that we guys were doin this for escaping bill payment.
so i thought i would help matters by ensuring him that we guys are regulars here. we have had these same dishes on this same table. so we know what we are talking about. and we will pay in full, provided he accepts his mistakes and gets these dishes changed.
i think THAT pretty much kicked his ego. cuz by now the waiters were hinting him to step away.
and THEN, his reply to us was.. he could get everyting made a hundred times.. IF WE COULD AFFORD THAT.. and still, each dish would be exactly the same.
till now, me and my friends, a trio of 26 year olds, were being polite to what was a middle aged 'captain'. but now, matters were seriously getting out of hand.
screw modesty i felt. i am a lean and short guy, and my frame is not intimidating by the farthest stretch of imagination.
time to pull the ace up the sleeve, i thought. so while my friends were still arguing for what seemed a lost cause, i stepped away and made a call.
then i came back at our table. and i gave him a piece of my mind.. "you are obviously new to this place, which is why you lack the basic etiquettes of the hospitality bussiness. not only do you forget orders, but you lack the intelligence to cover up your mistakes with a smile. i have had excellent service from your regular waiters, who seem far younger and inexperienced than you are. but the most important thing that you have forgot is while we are being polite, calling you "aap" and "uncle", you are treating us like we work here for you. so now i am going to treat you exactly like a waiter.. and i am going to show you exactly what is your position (the word i used was hindi.. main tumhe tumhari auukad dikhaata hu") 've just placed a call to mr. X and he is on his way here."
i realised that the only three other tables that were occupied had gotten silent and listening to us. my voice, kinda deep, and my tone, from being a surgeon, nothing short of authoritative, had effectively delivered a powerful monologue.. too bad there was no cheering at the end of it.
this guy, finally realising he was out of his depth, handed over our service to some other guy, and dishes were fished out in a jiffy.
and within next ten minutes, two things arrived simaltaneously.
our familiar trio of favourite starters.
and mr. X. a well behaved, cheerful middle aged man
who doubled up as a former patient.
and tripled up as the owner of this restraunt.
needless to say, since the last two years, i still hop on to that place once in a while. and the service.. is, now, better than five star :D
but yeah, since then, i always inspect the food well, before i take it to my mouth.
damned euro trip n other movies like that.


  1. :D well sorry i cant stop giggling.
    But some people don't know hospitality n just come to earn u did rite..

  2. I have a feeling that it was the captain who had cooked those culinary gems :p

  3. @roohani : trust me, given that this place was a bar, i had to think twice before giving him a piece of my mind.. i was risking being mislabelled as noisy drunkard.. but "uncle-ji" was apparently hell bent on showing us some "prison hospitality"..
    n about the "you cant stop giggling" part.. makes me happy.. it was meant to make you giggle

    @purba : trust me, i've often wondered if one of my friends or me reminded him someone he hates.. like a bully from school or the guy who eloped with his daughter :)

  4. :) :D well for ur thoughts abt u being mislabelled,it cannot happen n not for this. sometimes we have to let go respect when they forget their limits.

  5. Restaurants these days!! Money money money baby!! And even if the service is good, the food will turn out to be not worth the money.
    I am sorry! But I laughed at ur expense :P

  6. @red honestly girl.. whats the point in telling a story if it doesnt make you laugh :)
    but yeah, service vs food is often a freakin trade off these days, but thinkin about it, back in the 90s, when we were growin up, eating out in hotels itself was barely once a month affair.. to celebrate a birthday, or promotion or stuff like that.
    n here we are, lookin for options.. thai, italian, pizzas, chinese.. every damn weekend.
    times ve changed. thats for sure.

  7. Oops.....silly captain...messing with hungry Orthopods

    I like the maths PhD analogy... made me giggle :)

    I can imagine how irritated you guys must have been...but I managed to chuckle in your narration...its nice :)

  8. @varsha yeah orthopods, n that too hungry ones.. not to be messed with :) i jus hope moderators at the KFC contest share your compassion towards keepin us orthopods well fed ;)
    as for your giggles, it was exactly what i was gunning for :P
    thanks a lot for stopping by!