Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Life, what can I say, is interesting

As I am driving around the country, I landed up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. I generally would have waited to write this post till the end of the trip, but life turned so interesting today, that I had to do it now before I regained my composure.
I am staying in a no-service chain of a popular five-star hotel in the city and because of them being no service hotel, they don't have an in-house restaurant. There is another restaurant in the same building which is called Asia Kitchen.
I visited them yesterday and the food was really good quality. We were generally satisfied with the food and service. When I reached the hotel room and was generally looking at the bill, I realized that they had charged me Rs. 125/- for a bottle of water. That sounded little excessive to me because even in Bangalore five star hotels the bottled water was never that expensive. Also, this was no fancy water brand, it was regular Himalaya. Just to confirm, I looked at the water bottle, which is generally priced Rs. 20/-, was labeled Rs. 40/-.
So, when we decided to visit next evening again for dinner, we picked up a couple of water bottles from the vending machine in the hotel where it still cost Rs. 15- for half-liter bottle. Our decision made life really interesting. As we landed up at the restaurant and got a table, here is the conversation went on.

Waiter: Sir bottled water or regular water?
Me: We don't need water, we have our own.
Waiter: No sir, you either take bottled water or regular water, outside food item not allowed.
Me: What? you won't allow me to bring my own water, I can't drink regular water and your water is priced Rs. 125/-
Waiter: No sir, that is our policy
Me: Please let me know if you won't allow to drink our water, then we can leave and go somewhere else.
Waiter: (mumbles something...)
Me: Can you confirm with your manager? Let us know and we will leave if you don't want us.
Waiter: Ok.
At this time the waiter leaves and in a few minutes, the manager comes to our table.
Manager: Sir, it seems you have got the bottles from the hotel vending machine, it is Ok. 
Me: How can you recognize that these are from the hotel vending machine? I could have brought it from anywhere. How can refuse somebody to bring their own water? At this time my wife chimes in that one many have special needs for water e.g. boiled water etc. and they may bring their own water.
Manager: Sir, we are just following what the owners have decided for us.
Me: I get that, but can you give feedback to your owners that they are marking up water too high, even higher than most five-star hotels.
Manager: Ok, sir I will do that and I apologize but you should understand that we are just employees and we don't decide on prices.
Me: Ok.
At this time life suddenly turns super interesting. There is a European couple in the table next to us who joins the conversation.
European Couple Husband: I think you should leave this restaurant.
Me: Maybe I will, but that is for me to decide.
European Couple Wife: They are running a restaurant and they need to make a profit.
Me: Yes, but not by marking up packaged drinking water.
ECH: I think you should leave this restaurant.
Me: (ignores)
At this time the hotel staff is feeling very nervous, the manager is already apologizing to us and another employee goes to their table and starts apologizing to them.
ECW: I think you should never visit Europe?
Me: I am not in Europe, am I?
Now I am furious, I almost want to do some physical damage somewhere, but in the name of "Incredible India" and " Khushbu Gujarat Ki" I decide to keep quiet and not continue the conversation anymore with hotel staff or guests.

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