Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eating Out

I used to enjoy eating out every once in a while when I first came to America. The sheer number of cuisine choices was quite amazing and I wanted try everything at least once. Eating out in India was not quite as commonplace even a few years ago as it is today so this was a new experience for me. Once the newness wore off, I found myself growing jaded not with the endless options but with what happened once I am inside the establishment.

I realized quickly that there was a correlation between how much the meal cost me and the treatment I received from the wait-staff. If I was going to waste their time leisurely sampling a little bit of this and that to savor a new kind of food, chances are I was occupying the table which could have been given to a better spending customer. I felt rushed, slighted and generally unwelcome. Even at a twenty percent, my tip did not amount to much because the bill was too small.

If I was in a rush and wanted to grab something on the go, I had to deal with surly food preparation staff who mumbled the litany of options I could choose from and almost never gave me what I ordered. I found myself struggling between letting it go and throwing a fit as I paid up for something put together half-heartedly and not to my taste or liking. Racial prejudice has also been a recurring theme and naturally lead to indifferent or downright bad service.

Between such experiences, I have been almost completely weaned off the desire to eat out. I will go out with friends and co-workers on occasion, to a place of their choice and try to find something on the menu that I will like. Being part of a large crowd I have found is the best cover for someone like me.
Enjoying a meal cooked supposedly for your pleasure should not be this hard.


ggop said...

Restaurants are known to discriminate against the single diner. And people who order alcohol get better service :-)

ggop said...

I meant people who need a table for 1. Have you ever been pushed to the table near the "enchanted grotto"? (restroom)

Vikas Gupta said...

Thanks to my poverty (and calorie-consciousness), I have only twice eaten in restaurants (near JNU).

Even when in home, I avoid going out. I often cook my food with my microwave (boiled vegetables, pop corn, oats etc.)

I don't like the idea of tip but I have read it somewhere that it is not that bad and we should be liberal with it!

I recall reading somewhere that TIP is an acronym : To Insure Promptness!

In the campus, I often avoid sitting on benches by the dhabas which could accommodate more than one person because I have optimization in mind! I'll probably think the same when in a restaurant!

I will be very uncomfortable in a big restaurants or five-star places. I often think like ten rupees plus my microwave will get me almost one kg of Cauliflower or 300-400 gms of Broccoli (plus a lot of health) then why go and waste money! But when I have money I will probably eat like anything! Presently I don't even attend parties!

BTW, I have seen a pizza only in photos!I often overdo things and really avoid developing new tastes (also I have money in mind). I recently quit lamb momos (dumplings) for six months because I was eating it daily (@ Rs 30 per plate 8pcs which was cheap)! I have almost lost my six-pack home made body though it is very temporary!

I have also travelled very little in life. Recently I explored the JNU caves and documented it. http://jnucaves.wordpress.com

And though I do not know swimming I am leaving for Rishikesh river-rafting on the evening of 13th March for two-three days! Just bored with life!

Vikas Gupta said...

And yeah! Happy Holi! BTW, I cant' recall when I played Holi last!

Every Holi I have locked myself in the room!

But tomorrow, I may go out with my camera. I want to document JNU Holi.

Vikas Gupta said...

And after Holi, only exams till November (including a snow-trekking in late May!).

money finances said...

Interesting thoughts on eating out. When I first started to read this post I thought it might be because of the Cost of Eating Out being an issue in this economy. It is a lot cheaper to eat at home, but being treated so badly because you are not spending a lot on food is ridiculous! Thanks for the awareness.

Heartcrossings said...

ggop - Love the "enhanced grotto" :). Yes, have had that happen to me too. J is my trusty lunch or dinner companion who can be counted on to leave her food on the table and play under the table, When she has had enough of that, she will expect me to either feed or take the left-overs home.

Needless to say, she will not eat the said left-overs. I figure eating out alone with a kid is enough work without having wait-staff giving me attitude. I might as well eat at home and save my money !

vikas - Stick to the microwave and home-cooked food. Eating out is seriously over-rated ;)

money finances - In establishments that don't usually see a lot of desis, the staff often look at a desi like they had landed from another planet. It is like, "What are you doing here ? Are you sure you want to eat here and not at the Indian buffet down the street." Everything goes downhill from there.