Friday, November 16, 2018

How to destroy a waiter. My two bit psychology lesson.

In psychological research, an important facet is observational methods, by which, human behavior is observed.

A question often asked is what is the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists. Very broadly, psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, they can prescribe medications. Psychiatrists spend much of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment.

On the other hand, psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioral intervention. One step before treatment is observation, which is critical in assessing a person’s mental state.

I have been a psychologist for years. I observe, and reach conclusion.  I observe behavioral patterns of individuals in different situations like, cafeterias, restaurants, airport and hospital waiting rooms. I must hastily confess, I hardly ever treat any patient. Often quickly, sometimes instantly, I can tell that a person has severe emotional and mental suffering and deficiencies. I immediately pronounce them “mad”. There are literally hundreds of numbskulls around.
In this post, I will write about some of my observations. These have been conducted by me in restaurants. In a subsequent post, I will write about my observation in airports, airplanes and hospitals.

Here goes.

Let’s start at the beginning. This is what I have repeatedly observed when dining with pals at a restaurant.

I am sure you have been to a restaurant, reasonable fine dine – say, Indigo Deli or Copper Chimney or Gaylord or even O Pedro – with a few dear friends. 4 couples, 4 men, 4 women. No children in my observations, as, frankly, I rarely dine with children in restaurants. I would rather slit my wrists. You sit down at the table offered and the first thing that happens is that the waiter comes along and asks “mineral water or ordinary filter water”. This is where the fun starts. At your table, your guests will systematically proceed to mentally destroy the waiter. He will be given at least the following responses.

Bisleri cold, but not very cold, let me touch it first and, no ice
Bisleri with ice
Bisleri room temperature
Filter room temperature
Filter no ice
Filter ice

So, in the very first interaction you have reduced the waiter to quivering jelly. Now he will proceed to serve each person the incorrect water leading to a few more minutes of mayhem. Of course, cross conversations will be going on leading to more merriment as incorrect water is dispensed.

Next, is order taking time. This is where you have the chance to totally fuck with the restaurant Captain’s mind. I am not even getting into the types of non-vegetarian that there are. The broad types, Jain, Veg, Non-Veg simply don’t work anymore. I am sure you would have read jokes on WhatsApp which read something like this:

Pure Vegetarian
Can eat eggs but not chicken
Can eat cake (which has egg) but not omelette or boiled egg.
Can eat the gravy but not pieces
Can only eat meat outside the house, not inside
Eat meat only while drinking. When not drinking are vegetarian
Eat meat only when forced by someone to do so
Pure vegetarian on Monday, Tuesday & Saturday. Can eat meat on Wednesday, Friday & Sunday

That is old hat. I am not even getting into that. To some extent, our vegetarian fetishes are much like the “allergic” fetishes you have in the Western world. But, as I have said, leave that aside.

The 8 of you can seriously mangle the Captain’s mind only with the order for “Roti”. A few observations, which I am restricting to only Naan and not extending this over the myriad types of Roti available. Let’s assume this is a restricted menu.

Plain Naan
Butter Naan
Butter Naan but not too much butter
Naan, but make it crispy
Naan crispy but not burnt
I want a second Naan, but don’t make it as crispy as last time. Last time it was burnt.

I must tell you that ordering a “Roti Ki Tokri” or “Bread Basket” will also not work. You will have your 7 friends voicing their dissatisfaction with the butter or lack of it or the garlic or its absence.

The fun and games would continue as the hapless waiter who has been told to serve will proceed to dish out the incorrect Naan. I mean seriously, it a bloody Naan, with just flour and water and salt to which heat is applied. Its not a cancer drug which will give you nausea for a month and make your hair fall out. Eat the bloody thing.

I have observed that this gaiety continues throughout the meal. Each of your 7 companions will do his or her best to be as big an asshole as possible. Main courses are similarly madly ordered with different specifications and ridiculous questions

make it spicy,
is it sweet?
Is it white gravy?
Jain please!
Can I get it boneless?

You would think that your dining companions are white British having the first “curry” of their lives never having eaten bog standard North Indian restaurant fare before.

If you are in a restaurant with “Desi Khanna” I have observed diners damaging the waiter by randomly and sporadically asking for

Onion slices
Cocktail/pickled onion
Green Chilly

If you are in a “Conti” restaurant I have seen mutilation of the waiter by your companions erratically asking for

Garlic bread
Tomato ketchup
Chilly flakes
Pizza herbs

If you are in a Chinese restaurant my investigations have revealed maiming of the Nepali or Gharwali waiter by haphazardly demanding

Soya Sauce
Chilies in vinegar
Red Chili Sauce
Szechwan Sauce

I honestly ask, what is wrong with us? Way, really why are we so demanding, impatient and believe that our food needs saucing or spicing. Why are we so demanding about something as mundane as water? Warm water and fridge cold water have no biological or chemical difference. Why are we so paranoid about getting a “sardi khokla” if we drink cold water and not when we drink a cold beer or whiskey soda? I am always mystified. Why is a Naan served by a responsible restaurant unacceptable in standard form?

Is it just that we are overly pampered, too much – to use a Marathi work – “Kautook” or are we simply bonkers and unreasonable. Why do we have such a sense of entitlement or self-importance that we have to impose our foibles on a blasted Naan.

Is this the reason why real fine dine, with plated food fails in India? We simply cannot eat standard plated food. If the food is served family style with dishes being placed in the center of the table from which we have to serve ourselves, we seem happier. So much more to play around with and order the waiters to do.

I have no answers. I do hope that after reading this, you realise how utterly mad we are in a restaurant, and, I hope, that at some point we reform.

A fond hope, but, hope nonetheless.

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