Monday, February 13, 2006

Indian restaurants

The Philadelphia suburb that is my workplace contains very few eating joints. I never bring a tiffin, so I eat out everyday. There's a Subway, a Wendy's and finally, a Mexican restaurant. The Mexican place has got okay food. As in, you can get by if you don't try out any bizarre menu items, for example, the Fajita sandwich. I had it once and it was like biting into a live cow, which it probably was. That place is owned by an Indian guy. Now I have no problems with an Indian guy owning a Mexican restaurant. But the problem is, the restaurant kitchen is adjacent to the parking lot, and the moment you park your car and get out, you are treated to hideously loud Bollywood fillum music. And you can imagine the cooks inside doing the Ganpati kite-flying dance to Anu Malik and telling each other sardarji jokes as they roll up a Burrito Grande. Not very authentic Mexican, this image. But the food, as I said, is okay.

Then there's this other place, also Indian-owned. This joint is entirely Indian inside-out, as it is not only Indian owned, but also has Indian food. In fact, it might be the best place to get Indian food in or around Philadelphia. But as is to be expected, it suffers from poor Indian management. These poor Indian management techniques can be summarized in four words : "The customer is never right".

I used to go to this place very often, like once every week. And I used to order take-out on the phone, so that it would be ready by the time I got there. They had these "lunch specials", consisting of a veg / non veg menu item + paratha + rice + dal makhani, all this for about 8 bucks. If you bought the same menu item at regular price, it would cost you 16 bucks or so. So, naturally, I used to get the lunch special, enunciating it clearly during order-giving time so as not to cause any confusion.

So one day, I ordered the lamb roganjosh lunch special on the phone as usual, and then after 10 minutes, I drove there to pick it up. The bill said 16 bucks. "Hello", I said to the manager, "This says 16 bucks. I ordered the lunch special, which is 8 bucks".

The manager blinked at me. "No, you didn't, you ordered from the regular menu", he said.
"Well, I didn't", I said. "In fact, you can ask whoever it is who took the order and he will tell you that I ordered the lunch special."
"I took the order", he said, "And I'm telling you that you didn't."

Fuck, I thought. What a pain in the ass. I wasn't about to pay 8 bucks more 'cause the guy's deaf. I persisted on.

"Ok, lets think about this for a second", I said. "Why in God's name would I order from the dinner menu if I could get the same damn thing for a smaller price as a lunch special, especially since it also happens to be lunchtime right about now?"

"Well, I don't know but you didn't order the lunch special", he said. It was like his brain was stuck in an intergalactic wormhole. I tried a different angle. It was high time I tried a different angle because the place was filling up with waiters who were pushing and jostling, everyone trying to get a front-row seat for the argument.

"Ok now let me put it to you this way : Would it make better business sense for you, if I paid you extra today for the lamb, got pissed off and never came back here again, or...." The manager interrupted, his ego having just shoved a cattle prod up his butt.

He yelled, "Yes, yes, you go away..." This time I interrupted him.

"Hold on, let me finish what I'm saying. So would it make better business sense for you to piss me off today so that I never come back, or would it be better if you just gave me my lunch special today and I kept coming back every thursday as I usually do? What would make more sense for you financially?"

I had him there. He had no reply for me. Finally, with a weary look of defeat, so deliciously piteous that I could barely restrain myself from going over and licking it off his face with my tongue, he said to the waiter nearest him, "Go, get this guy his lunch special".

Fuck, it was an awesome victory. And the food was all the more tasty, laced as it was, with half an hour's worth of acrimonious debate.


Sujatha Bagal said...

That would be five words CG.

gawker said...

You know, I actually wrote "three words", then counted it, then wrote "four words". Somewhere I didn't carry over or something.

Vee Cee said...

I find this extremely hard to believe - that this dumb schmuck actually understood your point, realised the financial implications to his business and gave in to you.

R. said... do you know the thatthe food was not just laced with acrimony but with something else too?

Never piss of waiters or managers if you can help

Anurag said...

The question is: did you use that argument for the selfish purpose of getting one cheap meal, or did you really go back on ensuing Thursdays? I hope it was the former. :)

Anonymous said...

Rolling a burrito while doing ganpati kite-flying dance is not physically possible, i think. :)

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

As some guy mentioned on his blog, they are everywhere. Morons, that is. Light a votive candle in thanks for finding a moron who saw sense. You know where you can shove the (lighted) candle if he goes back to being a moron!

gawker said...

vc : maybe he was just tired of arguing, but who cares as long as I got my lunch special.

patrix, rabin : I did think of that possibility, but again, the taste of victory was strong enough to hide any other tastes, say urine, snot, faeces or menstrual blood that might have been added to the food.

anurag : I actually did continue to go there every thursday, mainly because its the best indian place around.

nobody : i agree and no other menu item depicts this better than tandoori chicken where the indian joints here paint the chicken red instead of applying actual spices to it in order not to create cutlet sized ulcers in Americas' stomachs

anjali : It is possible. You just take turns holding the kite and rolling the burrito.

arthur : The presence of morons is what make non-morons so special, doesnt it?

Amardeep Singh said...

Great story -- I would be curious to know which restaurant this was, as I live in the Philly suburbs and have been to a lot of them over the past few months.

(Maybe email to me offline -- amardeep at gmail dot com)

shakester said...

ha this sounds so familiar- and aargh i was getting infuriated just reading it!
well done anyhow