service, continued

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that the service is very good indeed here, at least when you’re at good hotels and restaurants. I’ll amend that slightly – it is indeed very good but in some ways is somewhat stressful. I think it’s because it’s almost like going back in time to having like a servant class. Here’s an example:

Last night Bob (another manager who is here to hire people) and I went out for dinner to a place which had been highly recommended as having very good Indian coastal cuisine. It really was damn good – I had Goan fish curry which was outstandingly delicious. When we got there we saw the outdoor patio which was surrounded by palm trees, banana plants and tons of other plants which back home you only see in conservatories or greenhouses. Very nice. However the fumigator guys were out with their smoke/chemical machines getting rid of mosquitos so the whole place was in a fog. We sat inside for a bit till the air cleared, then went out to have a couple of drinks and starters – also very good. When we were ready to move back in to have proper food I made the huge faux pas of carrying my own beer glass – the waiter seemed very agitated that I was doing this and fussed around me. Later Bob wanted some more rice from our rice bowl and was about to reach over to get some when I reminded him that we should have the waiter do it, so I called over the waiter so he could spoon the rice onto Bob’s place. The waiter seemed overjoyed to be of such service.

Then tonight I had to go down and sign a form for my driver to say that he was done for the night. He’s a decent seeming guy, and possibly the best driver in the world, getting us through the mad traffic. However he seems uncomfortable if we’re too friendly with him and doesn’t seem to know what to do when I say “have a good evening”. It feels a bit odd.

Yesterday at the office I was speaking with a younger guy who has been working as an admin assistant for the last few months, between finishing school and starting an MBA. He’s super-keen and does everything he can to get things right. I noticed he had a nice pendant on his necklace of Ganesh, the Hindu god who has an elephant’s head. I said that it was a cool Ganesh pendant and he was just thrilled: “Oh, Mr Andrew how do you know about Ganesh?”. I told him that I had read things, and also there are a lot of statues of Ganesh at the Prince of Wales museum in Mumbai, and in the audio tour there was a lot of information about him, including how he got his Elephant head. Vinay said “Oh Mr Andrew you are a very good man sir” which isn’t really true, but I guess I pay attention sometimes.

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