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Archive for June 2010

Living alone in Chennai, one usually frequents hotels that have built quite the reputation for themselves as those who have crossed over. Crossing over not necessarily out of the borders of the state but to North India and the whole wide world.

Such an example is Hotel Saravana Bhavan. They have crossed over to North India and locations in UAE, America, UK, SE Asia and many more. As it happens with the outreach, the traditional idli-dosai-meals menu now has a smattering of North Indian dishes as well.

What follows is multilogue between a bunch of North Indians who arrived to one such restaurant in Chennai for their lunch (I was sharing a table with them munching on a rather over crisp Bhatura).

NI 1 – “What should we have for lunch, bhai log?

NI 2 – “What else but some Idli / dosas? I guess they wouldn’t have any roti-subzi.”

NI 3 – “Or we could have a bhatoora (glancing sideways to my plate).”

By this time the menu cards arrive and the guests promptly start searching for the Bhatoora entry in the menu with no success.

NI 1 / 2 – “I guess they would not call it Bhatoora here. I am damn sure they must be calling it some weird name that the local janta can understand. Anyways if we can’t get it we will have something else.”

NI 3 – <Smug laugh>

Once the waiter comes to get the order and this happens –

NI 1 – “Chole Bhatoore” (In a rather sub sonic voice)

Waiter – <Pause> (Apparently waiting for the guest to tell the number of plates they would like to have)

NI 2 / 3 – “It seems that they don’t have it, let us go for something else”

The guest order some other dish and go on with it.

The interesting takeaway from this incident is three fold –

The guests are saying, without pointing out, that Chole Bhatoore though visible as a dish cannot be found in the menu card.

Also, despite both the parties knowing that what they want exists / can be delivered, they miss out on an opportunity to eat it / serve it.

Misinterpretation of silence is dangerous. While the guests thought that indeed their suspicions were true, they waiter stood there counting for the next input, in the form of number of portions, to be communicated.

The guests ate whatever they did not want to eat and went away. However they went away forming an opinion / an image that indeed this restaurant does not have North Indian dishes at all.

The irony of it all being, I was sitting there eating what they wanted. At one point the guests pointed at an entry in the menu card labelled “Chana poori” and remarking – “Probably this is what they call Bhatoora here”, followed by a guffaw of laughs.

And ahoy, we are not dead. -egghead

For the record –