At your sevice

[042] ... [General]

A few years back I had been to the kind of a central hub with the line of shops on a long road and in the numerous adjacent alleys, each selling all sorts of electronic stuff and the computer related. You are sure to find anything if you have the patience and time, nothing is denied by any owner. You wait thinking the assistant is looking up among the loaded shelves in the rear, while one other goes about to obtain from some other shop. You are happy the job is done, and he too for serving you through the maze of network that only they know thoroughly.

I took a different route on return and was surprised by a small and quaint hotel, the type your father took you when still at school. Each was known for a particular dish and taste and people seemed to enjoy going around to all. They all had things in common and a similar ambience. All furniture in solid rosewood (or stained to look like) that wobbled nevertheless, stiff backed chairs and all tables topped with white marble. The waiters eager to serve rattled off the day's menu orally and never minded to serve just a coffee that came in thick walled glasses, frothing and aromatic. With a narrow billbook, a strip of three tiny ones with perforated edges in the shirt pocket, the amount, however complicated when each from the group ordered differently, was mentally calculated, scribbled with the pencil coming right out from behind the right ear where they remained tucked, and handed over with grace. Usually all paid at the high desk at the entrance where the manager sat majestically welcoming and thanking the to and fro flow of customers, promptly giving back the change out of large drawers with steel bowls holding coins of many denominations, tapping the deskbell to call a waiter or a cleaner to inquire about the status of a parcel that someone waited for. The waiters (or servers then) didn't seem used to or never expected to be tipped.

A novelty perhaps then, those models lagged behind, replaced by a different self-served, sterile and antiseptic, and all tasting alike joints, and are hardly to be seen except by chance in remote places, like in my case. It's good that a few still brave to exist, taking you back in time when going to a hotel was an event, often with family and friends, than just a routine for a gulp these days. Or may be I should make it a point to visit just for the sake, now that the C-19 syndrome that kept us away from crowded places has reasonably eased out, to venture out to find if they managed to survive...

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