The Karim’s in Old Delhi has acquired a legendary status on the food map of Delhi over the past few decades. The mouth watering kebabs, delicately roasted mutton barra and, of course, the mutton raan are a few of the items that foodies from all over the world come to relish at the restaurant, despite the crowded location and lack of even basic facilities nearby.
Legend has it that the owners have kept the recipes a secret even as it has been serving a delectable array of Mughlai delicacies and the original outlet is a gastronomical delight. Once you enter the hotel through the nondescript alley next to the grand Jama Masjid, the aroma of kebabs grilled slowly on charcoal amber teases the taste buds. And then you realise it’s a heaven for those who swear by non-vegetarian food.
Its culinary art has helped the Karim’s feature on top of charts beating many a big shots operating from five stars of the capital.
But all these effusive eulogies are for food only and not the hotel staff. For, I realised, to my shock, that the hotel staff, unlike its kebabs, is not that warm when it comes to dealing with customers. As an avid fan, I have been visiting the hotel for over a decade. To celebrate every thing from my first job, friends’ job, promotions and even for regular get togethers. And yesterday was one such special occasion when I went there with my wife and one-and-a-half year old son.
As usual, the small courtyard was bustling with foodies. But it was not a weekend crowd when you have to literally jostle to grab a table.
After a few moments of wait, we were directed to sit on the first floor of one of its many enclosures. The waiter pointed a table-for-two just next to the stairs. Thinking my son would trip off from that narrow patch, I insisted for a space on the ground floor. But the waiter said we ‘can’t sit there since it was a 6-seat table.’ I told him there is no mad rush and the tables are relative free and that we can sit in any of these. But the waiter was adamant, and said – with utter disregard – he could offer only three chairs and will make others sit there. “Aap ko teen seat to de raha hoon.”
By then I had lost it. Trying to get back my composure, I walked out of the section.
Trying not to spoil the evening, we sat on another enclosure of the hotel. After finishing our dinner, I politely asked the cashier if the hotel notices the behaviour of the staff. Dismissively, he asked me what had happened. I narrated my agony. With an stoic expression, he nodded his head when I told him that behaviour of the staff will bring bad name to the hotel. I paused for a moment to hear a response from him. But it was as elusive as the recipes of the hotel. With a heavy heart and a little bit of anger, we paid our bill and left the hotel.