On Saturday we had been to New Jersey for our monthly round of groceries, trip to the parlor and meeting up with friends. And once one is in Edison or thereabouts, is it possible that we leave without indulging in some good old-fashioned hogging? It had been a long time since we had our fill of idli-dosa, so we headed to a famous South-Indian specialty restaurant for an early dinner. (I won’t name the place for reasons that shall be apparent later.) One of our Edison friends joined us, another was tied up in some work and missed out on all the fun!
Dinner at this particular restaurant is an elaborate affair. The husband and his friends usually order three dishes each, while I settle for two in a lame attempt at weight-watching. And hot steaming ‘kaapi’ is the only acceptable way to end the meal, of course. The reason I am going into all these details is, yes, you guessed it right – we had all this for free on Saturday night! And no, we did not sneak away from the restaurant without paying the bill, or trick a greedy bakra à la Chunkey Pandey in Tezaab. Instead, we were given a grand escort out of the hotel to the tune of the manager’s profuse apologies.
The simple explanation for this mystery was a truant plastic lid hiding in my masala dosa. Apparently it belonged to the Parachute oil bottle that’s used in their kitchen and popped out onto the tava while they were making the dosa! It sounded funny then, and we were pleasant surprised by their ‘no-bill’ policy, but on second thoughts, it is a pretty serious issue I think. God knows what kind of plastic the lid was made up of, and how much of it dissolved into the food I was eating! The lesson I carried home that night, always chew your food before you swallow it. Something mothers tell us a thousand times, but actually sinks in only after experiences like these.
The husband was quite embarrassed by all the unnecessary attention and refused to leave without paying the bill. As a compromise he was ready to forgo paying for the errant masala dosa, but was determined to pay for the rest. But the manager was insistent, and we decided to give in gracefully before we created more of a scene. The poor man did seem genuinely troubled.
The manager’s reaction makes sense now that I think about it. We are so used to the Indian mindset, where we would probably have had to create a ruckus to get a simple apology from the staff, that this reaction seemed a tad overblown to us. But in the US, where legal problems are any business establishment’s nightmare, the man must have heaved a sigh of relief to get away with a meager fifty dollar meal. Foolish of us really, rejoicing over a good (and free) meal when we actually lost out on a million dollars that night!