India Uncut

This blog has moved to its own domain. Please visit for the all-new India Uncut and bookmark it. The new site has much more content and some new sections, and you can read about them here and here. You can subscribe to full RSS feeds of all the sections from here. This blogspot site will no longer be updated, except in case of emergencies, if the main site suffers a prolonged outage. Thanks - Amit.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The servant culture

Nilu complains that there are too many people employed in Indian establishments, including restaurants. MadMan, the owner of the magnificent Shiok, explains why that is so. He writes:
Take the American (or most Westerners really), for example. His idea of good service is a courteous waiter, menus presented on time, food brought out and placed on his table in reasonable time, and his glass filled from time to time. The American actually gets annoyed by the "fawning" service offered in so many Indian restaurants, where the waiters (mistakenly) believe that the gora sahib wants to be given extra attention and be waited on hand and foot. He tries his best to provide this service and ends up having exactly the opposite effect - he pisses the Westerner off.

In my training, we teach staff how to handle the Westerners differently - be polite, efficient, and don't serve them food like servants. They prefer to do that themselves. They want to be left alone much of the time.

The Indian, on the other hand, has completely different expectations. We live in a "servant" culture. When my Indian customer walks into a fine dining restaurant, he expects to be waited on hand and foot. To him (risking stereotyping here, but largely true), the waiters are like servants who are there to satisfy his every wish. That's what he's paying for, damn it! This means that he expects to be served when the food gets to the table, and served again when the rice on his plate is running out, and for the waiter to show up by his side the moment he raises his finger. If he has to say "excuse me", it's bad service. I've seen far too many people treat waiters like dirt. This might be why I always get treated like a king at my regular haunts. I treat them like humans and talk to them.

Read the full thing.
amit varma, 5:13 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

I recommend: