A Whiff of Happiness, late at Night!
Columns, Over A Cup of Evening Tea

A Whiff of Happiness, late at Night!

July 30, 2023

By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD

Just a few days ago my family and I, as we often do, decided to go out for a late-night round of chats. This time we had with us a couple of in-house guests and we decided to take them to the newly opened, Nazarbad outlet of Pataka, a now well-known line of chat shops, owned by the Mannars Family in our city. Actually, Sampath, the progenitor of this business chain, was my classmate at the St. Philomena’s High School in the late sixties and very unfortunately, he died very young, in the year 1997.

As usual, the fare there at Pataka was up to our expectations, and our guests and we felt happy with our choice. But despite having enjoyed the snacks served there, I could not help feeling that the service could have been a little bit better than what it was.

Yes, cheerful and quick service, with personal attention to our preferences, is something I give priority to, over just good taste and ambience, whenever I go to a restaurant and I generally avoid revisiting a place where I find them missing. Yes, you can go ahead and call it one of my odd quirks and I do not mind it one bit because we all have our oddities, of one kind or the other!

We were the very last customers of the day and as we got up from our table to leave the place, I remarked to my daughter, Sarah, that while the fare was good, the waiters who served us and the two boys in particular, who prepared our chats, could have been a little more responsive and sharper in understanding our preferences. We both brushed it off as being due to their being new to their jobs, with the outlet itself being new and proceeded to leave the place, as the staff started switching of the lights.

That is when my daughter drew my attention to a signboard that was displayed right above the service counter. It said: “Valued customers, we would like to bring to your attention that we have a few employees who are specially-abled. Please be mindful and considerate when interacting with them.” That is when the realisation dawned on me why I had found the response from the staff there a little sluggish or even inattentive. It was not they but I, who should have been a little more attentive and considerate in dealing with them and having appropriately reasonable expectations from them!

I was suddenly overcome by a sense of deep remorse at my rather hasty conclusions, even as I was overwhelmed by a sense of great elation at what I was seeing there. I immediately felt that the service there was exemplary and I requested the manager to switch on the lights once again, so that I could photograph the signboard for this article!

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What a shame it was, that more and more of our business establishments did not have the kind of foresight and kindness, the management of Pataka had, in providing a dignified livelihood, even to persons with disabilities. Although I know of many large industrial establishments which reserve a few jobs for specially-abled persons, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes because it is mandated by law, it is not a common practice in smaller outfits.

It is in fact, a very small thing we can all pay attention to, as we go about our lives, without putting ourselves to any inconvenience at all. If every one of us make it a policy to do this and employ a couple of such persons, in all our business ventures, big or small, it will make a big difference to how meaningful our lives can be and how beautiful this world can become! Well done, Pataka, you have indeed set off a huge firecracker. Hats off to you!

The Sixth Bhagya!

Over the past two months, we have all been seeing a great deal of hype and euphoria over the Five Bhagyas that our State Government is in the process of doling out to a section of the voters who helped it to occupy the corridors of power in the VidhanaSoudha. Hype, among the givers and euphoria, among the receivers!

It is a different matter that the Government, after very optimistically dangling the carrot, is now finding it difficult to fulfill some of the promises it has made, especially in the matter of finding enough rice to distribute to the poor families, at the rather over-generous quantum of ten kilograms, per person, per month. Although it has to get its hands on only half this quantity, because the other half is something that the previous State Government, with its patronage from the Centre, has already been dishing out, the going has not been very easy.

This is because the Centre, that is driven by a different political ideology, has announced that its warehouses simply do not have enough rice to fulfill the demands made on them by our State Government, for its free-rice welfare scheme. Whether this is true or not, it has very expectedly and effectively thrown a spanner in the works, to stall the progress of a locomotive that is now being driven by its rivals! There’s nothing surprising in this because that is how things are in politics. When I do something, it is very good and when you do the very same thing it is very bad!

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Now, coming back to the empty rice bag, with the State Government now finding no rice of its own, to meet the expectations of the beneficiaries, has announced that it is undeterred and it will hand out the cost of the rice in cash, to them. This is what makes this decision under duress, the sixth and biggest ‘Bhagya’ that comes as an unexpected but very welcome bonus for casting their votes right.

To tell you why it is so, I have to tell you what my housemaid told me, with great elation very recently. She said that she was hoping to sell away the additional five kilos of inferior quality free rice for rupees fifteen a kilo as she was doing with the five kilos she was getting for every member of her five member household. That would have fetched her rupees seven hundred and fifty a month with which she could buy enough good quality rice for her family’s consumption.

Yes, rupees fifteen a kilo is the going price for Government rice in the black-market, where it is resold for thirty-five rupees a kilo, to almost all the hotels and eateries, for making their idli and dosa batter. Now, the sardonic joke is that these include even the best hotels, where our Government Officers, leaders and our Ministers too, regularly eat!

Now, with the Government giving her cash, at the rate of rupees thirty-five a kilo, instead of humble rice, which she simply refuses to eat, my maid and her ilk will stand to earn a full Rs. 1,750 a month. Now, where is Rs. 750 and where is Rs. 1,750, and why would anyone not welcome such a beautiful and bountiful scheme, as the Sixth Bhagya? Do think about it!

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