Sunday, February 05, 2006

Gourmets and Gluttons

Away on a business trip and seated alone at the corner table of the swanky restaurant of the 5-star hotel, with the customary bowl of salad in front of me, I find that I am at a vantage point to observe the feeding habits of some typical representatives of the human species. There is a lavish buffet spread and there is much movement of people. hither and thither, as in Brownian motion of molecules. The place is teeming with epicures, gourmets, gourmands, gluttons and trenchermen engaged in the ritual of ensuring ‘beast-like satisfaction of their bellies”.

Over at the table near the entrance, a man has just gone off on a reconnoiter trip to check out the menu. This man is clearly a pro. Many a customer would start filling the plate with the first dish that he or she can lay the hands on, only to realize that that they had wasted valuable ‘belly space’ when more interesting items awaited them downstream. But not our entrance-table man. Having scanned the entire spectrum, he goes about the task of prioritizing and picking out those items which in his assessment would have cost the hotel more to prepare.

In the adjacent table, the waiter is asking the guest if he would prefer mineral water and the man says ‘yes’ readily. Clearly, this man must be charging this lunch to his corporate account. No sane man who is paying for the meal out of his personal income would choose to order mineral water at Rs 80/per bottle. The cost of the mineral water is disproportionate to the claimed hygiene value.

Two tables away, there is a young and boisterous lot, bent on getting its money’s worth. A woman of fairly large proportions ( “hey, round is a shape”) settles down into the chair with great difficulty, wishing that the hotel management had the foresight to provide long handle shoe horns, along with forks and knives, to tuck herself in. Or ( as Wodehouse described a character) as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say when. Her idea of a balanced diet is to carry back two equally filled, large plates, one in each hand. One of her table-mates is so engrossed in his meal that he doesn’t even pause to wish her “Bon Appetit”. Conversation at this table languishes, unless you want to count Don Martinese sounds like “chomp chomp”, “ burp burp”, etc as social banter.

In yet another table, the main course is over and the members of this pack are inspecting the debris and asking the waiter to clear the deck preparatory to the imminent launch of “Operation Dessert Storm”. As someone said, “ Inside each one of us is a thin person struggling to get out, but who can be silenced with a few pieces of chocolate cake”. Presently these dessert foxes return from their foray, plates overflowing with puddings, pastries, mousse and milk sweets. No ice creams yet. There will be an exclusive round for that.

What do I see in that table over there? The family has finally finished the meal and the members resemble beached whales in their posture and in their inability to move. Eat what you want, as Mark twain said, and let the food fight it out inside. The waiter is getting their check. What! The head of the family is paying for the meal in cash. In these enlightened times when credit cards and debit cards have liberated us from the tyranny of carrying wads of cash, who goes around with bundles of banknotes in his pockets? There can be only one explanation. This fellow is one of those corrupt Govt officials, loaded with ill-gotten cash. A meal at a 5-star hotel provides a good outlet for the booty. I wish I had my camera. Could have carried out a sting operation right here.

Kipling wrote about the jungle laws that decreed that all animals must hunt only when hungry and never to satisfy their greed. These laws obviously don’t apply to Man who is on top of the food chain, I reflect, as I leave the restaurant sipping my mineral water and asking for my bill to be debited to my company.

9 comments:

thennavan said...

That was quite hilarious. Humor comes naturally to you :-)

Shruthi said...

That was a fantastic account! :)

Raj said...

Thennavan, Shruthi : Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

Sowmya said...

Good one raj! 'Balanced Meal' had me ROTFL!

Ambar said...

"Operation Dessert Storm" ROFLOL

aniket said...

Really nice.....

Mary said...

Wow! that is so true :O

Very funny post! :D

Shruthi said...

Hey Raj, wanted to thank you for the link of Sound of Thunder, that you left on my blog - I loved reading the story!:)

anushka said...

hillarious!!slurp slurp burp burp chomp chomp !! when u see the bill dnt get disgusted and ask for mineral water unless ofcourse the company pays the bill that is!!.....after chomp chomp guess it wud be dizzy dizzy for a common man !!