Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Serving with a sigh!

Last week I went to the Princeton Club after a dubbing session for the film Paanch Adhyay in which I have a guest appearance. This film is the directorial debut project of Pratim Dasgupta.
It was an unscheduled visit to the Club as Pratim was free and so was Priyanshu, one of the lead characters in the film. Debasree Roy and few other friends also joined in later.
I reached Princeton around 6:30 pm. It was my second visit to the Club though I have been a member for quite sometime, thanks to Sushil Mohta.
Around 6:45 pm I ordered for a cup of tea. A few minutes before 7 pm another waiter came and asked me if I would like to have anything. I told him that I had already ordered for tea and that we all were waiting for it. He said he could not serve us tea as per the Club rules it could be served only till 7 pm.
I was quite surprised as I had already given the order well before 7 pm. I told him that I wanted to talk to his senior. His senior repeated the same 7-pm story and reiterated that there was no way tea could be served. He also told me that even if he wanted to serve me tea it would not be possible since the ingredients to make it weren't there.
My surprise turned to shock and set me wondering what 'ingredients' are really required to serve the most common and popular drink in the land of one billion people. I told him I wanted to set things straight I'd like to put it in writing. It was then another manager, even more senior one, who saw and recognised me stepped in and had tea served us in 10 minutes flat.
I am still at a loss to understand why such things happen in our country. `Serve with a smile' may be the buzzword of the global service industry. But in India, they `Serve with a sigh'. This not just one stray incident. I have had many such experiences across India in places big and small.
I believe that rules should be followed in word and spirit. But one should not throw the rule book at you and use it as a handle to shirk responsibilities. Somehow, we all accept what we are told and those, who serve in the service sector, know this mind set very well and play their cards accordingly.
On the National Highway to Ajmer Sharif there is a Cafe Coffee Day outlet where travellers stop by for a break. Of course the brand image of Café Coffee Day has its own pull given a certain standard of service that comes with it. This Café is located in Kishangarh on route to Ajmer.
Last month while travelling on that road I reached the Café and went to wash my hands in the washroom, I found there wasn't any soap or tissue and the washroom was filthy. I have a fair idea about their ways, how such outlets function. 
I looked behind the door for the chart where all details of services from flow of water to toilet roles are mentioned as per the time of the day. I found all the services mentioned on the chart were ticked, including the ones that was supposed to be checked by the staff later during the day. It was evident that in the morning they had just ticked all the columns for the entire day at one go and put up the chart. The actual process is to visit at different intervals, take stock of the situation and then mark out the list.
On my way back the next day, I again stopped at the Cafe and found the washroom to be even worse than the last time. Again I looked behind the door and saw the same chart with that day’s date and all services ticked in advance. Which meant that everything was okay at any point of time during the day.
I went to the reception and asked the person there, “How can you tick mark advance?”
When I told him I'll write to the authorities about this, he started to hyper ventilate and opened a cupboard next to him which was of soaps, tissues, toilet rolls etc. The cupboard, in fact, was overflowing with toiletries not made available to the customers.
Who cares a damn about service!
ess bee

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