Part Two: In Which We Get premonitions of Customer Service:
It did strike me a bit odd that of the 3 of us who went to the gym, only I was asked by the trainer whether I wanted to do any “stretching” exercises. I am a total novice to exercising and I suspected the chap would string me to one of those vile-looking machines and stretch me and my pot-belly into shape. I politely but firmly declined the offer. He would have none of it, and commandeered me on the fresh large towel he spread on the gym floor.
As my other two colleagues watched, he proceeded to give me 20 minutes of the most rigorous and relaxing massage. “So that is what they call a ‘stretching’ exercise”, I thought to myself, “This I would welcome morning and evening!” I wondered for a moment why I was the one singled out for the special exercise but did not think much about it as we walked back to our respective rooms.
I reach the room and I realize there was something unusual since I had left it about an hour or so ago when I went to the gym. There was this large basket of flowers (in addition to the flowers already in the room- a routine feature of five star hotels). On closer examination I found a card stuck amidst the flowers. “With complements from ‘Executive Housekeeper’ ”. Just as I was registering this development, my eyes chanced upon the most gorgeous cheese platter I had ever seen. Cheeses in 4 varieties. I do not know much about cheese except that two species of this exotica are found in the ‘fridge at home: the aluminum foil wrapped cheese cubes (mostly Amul) and plastic-film wrapped thin cheese singles (mostly Britannia). Here I was, faced with elegantly cut cheeses, orange cheese sticks, pink cheese cuts, grey cheese cubes and yellow cheese wedges. Arranged elegantly around this palette of cheeses were the juiciest and the fattest grapes I had ever tasted and some dry fruits.
And then the penny dropped. These were some kind of an apology gesture from the hotel! And the gym’s stretching-exercise thing was not luck but perhaps the trainer had been alerted prior to my arrival. He would have recognized me when I signed into the gym with my room number.
I felt happy (??) that the hotel guys appeared to have taken my complaint seriously and I hoped that the service the following day would be good. Happily I picked up one of those exotic colored cheese sticks and I had just begun munching on it when the phone rang.
“Good evening, Mr Ojha. This is Chirpy speaking from room service, how are you today?” Mr Chirpy-Voice, well, chirped.
“But I have not ordered anything from the room service, maybe you have got the wrong number.”
“Actually, Mr Ojha, Mr GM has informed me that there is going to be an important meeting in your room and that I should provide refreshments.”
“Thanks a lot, but I really do not need anything. Thank you very much.”
“Please, Mr Ojha,” the words “please” and “ojha” if they would have been typed on the computer as Mr Chirpy-Voice spoke would have showed up in font size 72, bold, underlined and in italic.
Alarmed, I blurted out, “8.45 pm”
“And how many people would there be, sir?”
“Thank you, Mr Ojha.”
And Chirpy was bang on schedule. Sharp at 8.40 pm, just a few minutes after my two colleagues landed, the door bell rang. In came Chirpy’s man wheeling a large, large trolley draped with crisp linen and laden with tons of water bottles, soft drink cans, tonic water bottles, sets of glasses in different shapes and sizes, ice buckets and two large bowls of snack. The provisions on display would have hosted a large office party and here we were, only three of us. My colleagues’ jaws dropped and one of them hid with a magazine the bottle of Old Monk waiting to be devoured, scared that the guy will take away all the goodies if he realized that we were the sasta Old Monk types and not into Single Malts!
“Enjoy the evening, Mr Ojha. And I will be back after half an hour”.
“That’s OK, we will leave the trolley outside when we are done.”
“No, no, sir, it is not about clearing the room. I will come back with Chicken Takatak, and Mutton Khatakhat”. (ok, these names are made up. Maybe he said Chicken contrition and Mutton penitence. I was a little too dazed to follow what he said)
“Please sir! Please do not deny us the pleasure of serving you.” Chirpy had trained his team members as well in the art of bold, italics and underline.
“OK, then get us one chicken dish and one vegetarian dish please”. I felt a bit sheepish. But I thought the change to be practical as the two colleagues of mine are vegetarians.
“Perfectly fine sir”. Said Chirpy’s man as he closed the door behind him.
The three of us contemplated the spread before us and wondered how to best do justice to it.
Dead Silence prevailed in the room.