A friend recently remarked that this blog had been missing its usual gossipy feel for some time. Well, I perhaps have one of the more bizarre incidents I can recall in recent times. And yes a first person account!
I went with 3 other friends (2 had been once before) to a restaurant in Chicago, which claims to be the oldest Indian food place in the Chicago area. The owner recognized the 2 (who had been before), greeted and we got a table. The place offered an Indian Buffet which we decided to order. (Of course how these Indian food buffets in Chicago remind me of the late 80s early 90s catered from a tent house food at Indian weddings is another story). Naan was the only bread included in the buffet.
Wanting to have a conversation with other Desis, the owner himself decided to take our order:
Harsh: Can I have roti instead of the Naan
Server: No! Because it takes a separate dough …………..blah blah…but you can order it separately
Harsh looks into the menu for the price …..
Server: Are you a PhD student?
Server: I knew it… that’s why you are analyzing so much! ..
At this stage I lost my cool somewhat..
Harsh: I am analyzing if this is my last visit to the restaurant
Harsh: Most places are able to make this accommodation. I am surprised why you are so inflexible
Server: Well ! Ok if you so insist I can do it a special favor for you
Harsh: I don’t want favors. I will go with what you offer. Just perhaps won’t come here again
A lady came to wait at our table. He asked her if he could have a word with her, and said he would be back with us in a minute.
Server ( to Harsh): I have made a decision. You are not allowed in my restaurant.
Harsh: Thank you, I am happy to leave.
Server: I can serve the other 3 gentleman
Harsh: Absolutely, it’s their choice if they still want to be here
The four of us get up and leave
Server: I have never been so humiliated in life, that too by educated people. I go to Booth (school of Business) to teach ………………
As I said somewhat embarrasing, but highly tellable. Raised a lot of concerns with me. I must mention that at no stage was the tone of voice harsh or the pitch elevated. Also what prompted that “this is my last time’ reaction from me was that he ‘judged me’ by asking if I was a PhD student and he thought so because I was being analytical about the menu.I thought he had crossed his boundary as a client and as a customer I had the privilege of space which he did not allow me.
Anyway I just laugh when I reflect on the whole incident. I wish the restaurant all the best.