Papaji ka Waiter
Papaji ka Dhaba is one of the famous restaurants in the city. For some reason people sing praises about it, but for me it’s a just-about-average eatery. Numerous unsatisfactory outings to the place have re-enforced my opinion about the place. For some or the other reason, though, we keep going there.
Today, however, was different. The following, minutely fictionalised, account of the interaction with the waiter who served us (a mild-faced, young fellow called Ram) will tell you why:
We were 6 of us (3 veggies and 3 non-veggies), so had to join two tables. Now one table was being serviced by another waiter, which was a put off for our dude. He wanted the whole tip you see. I could see it on his face that he wasn’t happy. Exactly how unhappy he was, we discovered only later. (Note: Some sentences have been translated into English).
First thing we ordered: Tandoori Chicken. Full. Terribly hungry we were. “Time lagega, minimum 15 minute”, he said. “No probs. We’ll wait”, I said.
“Do you have masala papad?”
“Masala Papad?”, he asked with a what-the-eff-is-that look on his face. “We have roasted papad.”
With neither the intention nor the energy of explaining to him what a masala papad was, we ordered for two roasted papads. And got them pretty soon.
The papad went well with the tamarind chutney they serve. So we ordered for some more chutney. “Abhi laata hoon”, he retorted and disappeared. Came back after five minutes. Empty handed.
“Laa raha hoon”, he snapped back. Only to disappear and reappear again. Without the chutney. We gave up.
“Tandoori chicken kahaan hai? You said it’ll take fifteen minutes. It’s already more than that.”
“Kya baat kar rahe hain? It’s not yet fifteen minutes. Abhi toh order diya aapne.” This, after we had brought to his attention the fact that our veggie companions were already onto their main course.
His tone was sharp. Confidence, high. We were hungry and helpless. He piled on the misery. “You ordered for a ‘dry’ item, it takes time. Had you ordered for a ‘wet’ one I’d have placed it in front of you in no time.”
We looked at each other and kept quite.
The Tandoori Chicken finally appeared after a few agonisingly slow minutes. It was badly cooked and rubbery. But we were desperate and hungry. So, we munched away.
Next up, main course.
“Ek Butter Chicken, small”, I said having referred to the menu card that seemed to give different rates for ‘full’ and ‘small’ portions.
“Small? Small vall kuch nahi hota. Ek plate hota hai, laun?” Again, his confidence was overwhelming.
“Achcha theek hai.”
“With bones ya boneless?”
“Boneless”, we said balefully.
“Saath mein 3+3 Butter Roti bhi lana.” His face seemed to cringe at the utterance of the words “Butter Roti”. But thankfully he did not say anyhing.
He came back with the curry and what appeared to be more than 3 rotis, placed the items on our table and moved to the next table without serving us. After a brief wait, we decided to help ourselves. A closer look at the curry resulted in the realisation that it wasn’t the boneless version we had ordered. And, His Benevolent Self had brought along 2 exrta rotis, as we had suspected.
“Arre bhaiyya, ye to boneless nahi hai! We orderd for a boneless butter chicken!”
“What are you talking? You ordered for a ‘with bones’ curry and I got it. There’s a difference between the two and that’s why I asked you while taking the order. And you said with bones!” We were flabbergasted.
Just to reconfirm our innocence, we asked our veggie neighbours, who were by now laughing their asses off at our plight, and they concurred that we indeed ordered for a boneless curry.
Then, the second set of Rotis came along. They were half baked, so I showed him the uncooked portions.
“Theek se paka nahi hai ye”
“Kya baat kar rahe hain? It’s perfectly baked, and you say it’s not cooked?” he said, banishing me as if I had accused him of murder, and walked away. By now we felt so miserable, we were laughing at ourselves.
We then ordered for some rice and were contemplating whether to go for the dessert or not, when Ram, sensing that we were unhappy about something, said “aaramse baithiye, aap boliye aur hum leke aaenge”
“Two by three lassi.”
He came back with 2 full glasses of lassi and 1 empty glass and then proceeded to divide the contents into 3 equal portions. But something went wrong, one of the glasses seemed to have got a lesser portion.
“The middle one. Add some to it,” I intervened without permission and was promptly ignored. More laughter ensued. We were now enjoying it.
Done with the dessert, we asked him for the bill.
“Ek bill leke aao, boneless,” I said. He walked away grinning sheepishly.
“Kahaan ke ho aap?”
“Oho, from the land of Dhoni!”
“Yeah, Dhoni,” he said, with pride.
I tipped him ten bucks for making a rather tasteless meal so memorable and started walking away.
“I’ll get you boneless butter chicken the next time you come!”
Not sure if I am going back though. Err, should I?