Wednesday, 20 May 2015

3 things you should avoid doing in a restaurant

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I wonder whether the restaurant "Danapani" still exists in Malviyanagar of Jaipur in India. Living up to its name, it used to be a perfect joint to have your bellies and tongues satisfied. I was a regular at the place and my friends used to invite me to dine with them much often. The sole reason was a waiter in the restaurant who was very near to me. Whenever I accompanied them, they were sure to get a bigger portion of each ordered item. In addition to that we used to get royal treatment, being regulars.

One day I was alone and not many seats were occupied. After placing my orders, I was waiting for the food to arrive. Then suddenly there was a loud brouhaha about the food, few tables away from mine. The waiter serving the food was the same guy I had known for years.   

As he came near me, I enquired him about the brawl. He said that the man had demanded the same dish thrice. At first he had complained about too much salt in the chicken, secondly he had complained about the taste and nearly slapped the waiter. He got scolding in front of regular customers.

It was obvious, the waiter was humiliated. He always took me as a well-wisher, so he whispered in my ear, "Do you know what I did?"

"I spat on the third serving. And you can see, the man is enjoying the food," he shared his crime with pride. I was taken aback by his gusto.

After that I fear eating in that restaurant. And above all I learned one important lesson, 'never to enter into a fracas with a waiter'. You have the right to complain, but do it in a dignified manner.

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I am a food lover and I love the street food. In particular, the food at roadside Dhaba, the Punjabi owned eateries are real delights to my taste buds.

Once I was travelling to Delhi from Jaipur in a Roadways bus (state owned bus service). The Roadways buses generally stop at Dhabas that offer delicious food. I knew that and when the bus stopped for food at the midway, I occupied a table and asked for the menu.

A thin guy in his late teens came to me handing a menu in tatters. I glanced through it and ordered a parantha and aaloo dum. I didn’t bother to look at the price as the place looked local and cheap. However, after a satisfying meal when I went to pay, the price that I had to pay was ten times more than normal. I was dumbfounded but could not nag much as it was my fault.

The worse part was, I had a limited budget to travel back to Nepal from Delhi and I had spent the major chunk on a roadside lunch.

Nowadays, I never place an order before verifying the price.  

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In Nepal, there are some exciting places famous for fish. One of them is Malekhu, about two hours’ ride away from Kathmandu. Eateries on both sides of the highway serve fish, claiming [the fish] to be from the nearby river. Another such place is Babai on the way to Surkhet from Nepalgunj.

If you live in big city and are used to eating frozen fish, you will love the taste. However, if you are a fish connoisseur you will notice the difference. The fish are not from the local river. They are outsourced from water sources including ponds of neighbouring districts.

I never believed when my friends said that the fish was not from the river.

Once I was travelling from Kohlapur to Surkhet. The bus was jam-packed. People were stacked inside like sardines. There was, however, a big black drum near the door. Sitting next to it, I asked a man standing near the door to sit on the drum. But as he sat on the drum, a fat man standing nearby yelled at him, “Don’t you see the tiny hole on the lid?” “If you sit on it, my fish will suffocate to death.”

Then only I realised that the container was for transporting fish. When the bus stopped for tea and snacks at Babai, the fat man got down the drum from the bus. While I was drinking tea the man was distributing the fish to the hotel owners. And they would sell them as “fish from Babai”!

I remember my friend cracking joke while we were having fish and rice. The shopkeeper had told that the fish was from Babai. He had said, “Does Babai have enough water to hold this big fish?”

It was summer and the river had dried down to a narrow stream. The fish was exceptionally big. And for sure, it came from a pond in the neighbouring Bardia district!

Moral of the story: Never follow a brand blindly.   

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