Sunday, May 27, 2007
Scene 1 :
It's lunch time and I am hungry. It is also very hot.I am on my way back to office after a branch visit and I decide to for a change eat healthy and opt for a salad from a joint on Sarat Bose Road, instead I take a wrong turn and I end up on Wood burn Park . A few steps down the pavement and I find myself facing this sign :
Having never visited a Subway Outlet before (yes it's true), I decide to try my luck. I walk in and I find the whole place empty (that should have set the alarm bells ringing but I was to taken up with the idea of "eating healthy"). So I walk up to the counter and naively ask for a sandwich, a dude who has the words "Sandwich Artist' proudly emblazoned on his T-shirt wordlessly hands over a menu card to me.
I opt for a meatball sandwich and then my troubles begin...which bread madam....and madam is confused ....any bread that tastes good is my naive reply ....no madam please tell me ...we have "x" 'y" and "z" ...I am fumbling and Mr. Sandwich artist looks at me as I am something that the cat dragged in. After fumbling my way, I manage to get a sandwich and I am asked to shell out 112 bucks which I do.
The sandwich surprisingly for all my ignorance on breads and dressing, tastes good but it makes me thirsty. So i once again humbly go up to the counter and ask if I may be blessed enough to get some water. Mr. Sandwich artist tells me that I may buy a bottle of mineral water which they sell and I ask, "But don't you have any normal water from a dispenser ?" . Mr. Sandwich artist feels that he has a loser on his hands, and I am told that if I want to , I may drink water from the tap...and no they would not be able to give me a glass.
Now I know why this "famous" outlet was empty even during lunch time !!!
Scene 2 :
It is a hot Saturday afternoon. I am hot and thirsty. I am to sweaty to feel hungry. So I walk up to this small outlet which sells rolls at the beginning of Park Street and ask if they could give me some water. There is a man who is taking the orders , he takes one look at my miserable face and yells to the doorman of the restaurant next to his outlet, " Madam ke liye jaldi pani la". I am given a tall glass of cold water and asked as to whether I feel better. I am touched by this act of kindness...after all I had not bought anything from this shop and the man behind the counter was no "Sandwich Artist" in a glitzy outlet and yet he had the heart to be kind to me.
This is where the true spirit of Kolkata resides...in the hearts of the people who have lived and run their businesses long before it became fashionable to do so. They are the ones who care about their fellow Kolkatans...not some fancy people with fancy get-ups and broken English in a johny-come-lately set up.