HALF AN HOUR IN A RESTAURANT

Outline: How I went to a restaurant - remarks on the waiters - boards on the wall - restaurants bring about true national integration.

Though I occasionally patronise the school canteen, I rarely visit a public restaurant. The other day as I was returning from school, all of a sudden the sky was overcast and a heavy downpour of rain followed. I was compelled to take refuge in an Irani restaurant, which was nearby. The place was terribly crowded, though I was lucky enough to get a seat. The rain was a boon to restaurant, I thought.

There were so many people and there was such a bustle and confusion that I had no hope of being attended to. To my great surprise, a waiter promptly came to me and asked what I wanted. I ordered a cup of coffee which he brought in a jiffy. I marvelled at the alertness, promptness and efficiency of the waiters. They had a remarkable power of memory. Since they would announce, in a stentorian voice, the exact bill of each customer. Yet, their job must be extremely drudgerous and monotonous. How better, I thought, was the self - service system that was adopted in the school canteen!

As I was sipping my tea, my attention was drawn to the boards on the walls with maxims and instructions painted on them. I was amused by three boards placed in close proximity to each other. One proclaimed ‘God is Great’, the second proudly announced ‘Grade Two’, and the third instructed ‘Do not Spit’. Can there be a better example of incongruity. Incidentally, I was wondering whether the instruction on the third board was necessary when I remembered our national custom of chewing pan.

Looking around, I noticed that the majority of the customers preferred tea to anything else. Over their cups of tea some of them quietly read  newspapers and some other discussed private affairs or public issues, while the rain pattered outside. The people sitting in the restaurant belonged to different communities and religions, and spoke different languages. Such restaurants, I reflected, brought about true national integration, and in them could be seen the secular ideal in operation. What our political leaders and the legislators have been unable to achieve has been achieved by these restaurants. ‘The cup that cheers but not inebriates’.

In the meanwhile the rain stopped and, having paid my bill, I felt the restaurant.


Difficult words:
Patronize - support financially,
overcast - darkened with clouds,
refuge - shelter
stentorial - loud and strong
proximity - nearness
incongruity - oddity
secular - not making distinctions on account of religion
conformity - adherence
pattered - made a light, quick sound.
integration - unity

inebriates - intoxicates.