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Personalised Service and Sweet American Peas.

by Vimala Ramu
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)

In South India, when the restaurants were small, the owner who would normally sit at the cash counter would come round and have a word or two with the customers, especially if the latter happened to be regular ones. A sort of homely connection would exist between the two.


But now, with the hotels burgeoning into chain ones catering to a larger clientele, we never get to see the owners let alone have a chat with them. The cashier takes cash and efficiently issues coupons, the waiters serve the food efficiently, the cleaning staff mops up the dining area efficiently and we walk out of the restaurant.

When we visited the United States, one thing I noticed was the personalized service tendered by the owner cum cook in some of the places. Once, when the lady of the restaurant came to know that I was a strict vegetarian, she cooked an egg plant (big, round brinjal) with her own spices specially for me. She not only served it to me herself but came and sat by my side to see if I liked it!

We had a funny sort of experience in the ‘Indian restaurant’. Though in US and UK most of the ‘Indian’ restaurants are owned by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, this particular restaurant was owned and run by a Punjabi couple.

When our son suggested we drive to Modesto, CA to have an Indian meal at this place, we agreed enthusiastically. Journeying from Merced, we were quite hungry when we reached the restaurant.
The lady served our order and sauntered over to chat with us.
“Namaste, you are from India?”
“Yes”
“From which part?”
“From South India, Bangalore”
“How do you like it here, I mean the vegetables? Don’t you find the peas too sweet?”

I did not know what to say. For us South Indians, compared to our smaller local variety of flavorful, non sweet peas, even the North Indian peas (Shimla muttar) is too sweet. In fact the older ladies have never included it in their cuisine though we now have a local version ‘Ooty batani’.

This being the case I did not know what to say. I just mumbled something in reply.

Since our stay in Merced was a rather long one, we made a repeat trip to the Indian restaurant in Modesto a couple of weeks later.
As we entered the restaurant, the same lady appeared at our side.
She asked,
“Namaste, you are from India?”
“Yes”
“From which part?”
“From South India, Bangalore”
“How do you like it here, I mean the vegetables? Don’t you find the peas too sweet?”

Next time my son suggested going to Modesto, we preferred to eat elsewhere and opted for an Italian place rather than hear the same discussion about the American peas being too sweet.


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Dec 19, 2013
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fake
by: vimala ramu

No Kiran, I felt sorry for the woman for her limited knowledge and let go. Thanks for visiting my site.

Dec 18, 2013
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Good joke
by: Kiran Jhamb

Why do people think that others cannot distinguish between the fake and the genuine. I hope you confronted her.

Dec 04, 2013
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peas
by: vimala ramu

Thank you, Irene.

Dec 04, 2013
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peas
by: vimala ramu

Thank you Seetharam for your 'comment on site'.

Dec 04, 2013
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peas
by: vimala ramu

Shimla muttar is peas from hills, extra big and extra sweet like the ooty peas we get in south.Doesn't go much with south indian dishes but is excellent for north indian curry.

Dec 04, 2013
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ah
by: Sneha

What is shimla matar, Vimala? Heard of it for the first time ... your writes make me smile always. :)

Dec 04, 2013
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Sweet Peas
by: Seetharam

I don't blame the lady in the restaurant.
Her son or daughter should have taught her another sentence to greet the customers !

Dec 04, 2013
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Nice
by: Irene

Nice and funny:) and so right about the American personal touch!

Dec 01, 2013
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Thanks
by: vimala ramu

Thank you Pankaja for your prompt response.

Dec 01, 2013
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Good
by: nuggehallipankaja

Nice reading

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