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A taste of goodness

A taste of goodness

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Sumit Paul

HOTELS and restaurants offer a wide array of experiences. More often than not, one enters their premises expecting the unexpected. In 2009, I stayed in Jaipur for about a month at a lodge off Mirza Ismail Road. One day, I went to a nearby restaurant and asked for the menu. It was like a slim magazine with innumerable dishes. ‘Chhole bhature hain?’ I asked. ‘Nahin, sahib,’ the waiter replied. ‘Matar-paneer?’ I enquired. ‘Paneer hai par matar nahin,’ he said. ‘Okay then, aloo ka parantha la deejiye,’ I said with resignation. ‘Paranthe wala cook ghar chala gaya, sahib,’ he informed me. Exasperated, I called the manager and asked whether he had a lock. Baffled, he said ‘yes’. I told him to lock up the restaurant since it had nothing to offer. However, he did not take offence at my caustic remark. I left in a huff and went to another eatery, where I ate to my heart’s content.

I left Jaipur after a few days and came back to Pune. The incident was soon forgotten. A few years later, I visited a restaurant in Gurugram and asked the waiter, ‘Huzoor, kya hai?’ (what have you got?). ‘Taale ke ilawa sab kuchh hai’ (except for a lock, we have got everything),’ said someone. Flabbergasted, I turned back and was surprised to see the manager whom I had met in Jaipur. He had opened his own restaurant in Gurugram. That day, he had everything that was mentioned in the menu, and the food was scrumptious. We recalled the episode and laughed heartily. The cherry on the cake was that it was a free treat from him. I thanked him profusely and am still in touch with him.

Once, I ordered a vegetarian dish at a swanky restaurant in Lucknow. It was full of chillies. I called the waiter and told him, ‘Shorba kuchh zyada hi teekha hai’ (this dish is too spicy). The manager immediately came and tasted it. He apologised and served another dish in a jiffy. It was perfect and delicious. What’s more, he did not charge me anything and again regretted that the restaurant had served a ‘below par’ item. I was touched and realised that it was not for nothing that Lucknow was called Shahar-e-tahzeeb (the city of etiquette).

Alas, these heart-warming gestures are a rarity nowadays. Maybe the times have changed. And so have the people and their values.


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