Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cool restaurant, cold waiters..

The buntings outside says Introductory Offer..Fish and Chips and Chicken Chop for half the price. Mariam and I thought..why not give it a shot. The restaurant looks chic.
We stepped in. The song of Pussycat Dolls floated out as we opened the glass door. Not the best kind of music to aid digestion, I thought..but nevermind. The black and white modern decore was pleasing to the eye and evoked a sense of class. The air was cool and pleasant. The greeting from the waiters ...chilly.

Nobody batted an eye lash at us. I had this sensation as if I have just snuck into a nice home, unwelcomed. We found a table we liked and made ourselves comfortable. At a corner two young malay men were sitting and chatting while eating nasi campur. It was 11 am in the morning but I guess some people prefer to have a heavy brunch. They were wearing black collared t-shirt with black trousers and had black aprons a cursived "Splendid" embroidered on their lapels. Uniform as classy as its interior. It was a good 10 minutes before an expressionless waiter presented us with the menu. “Apa yang sedap (What’s nice?)”, I asked him. His expression remained the same. "Cake ni sedap tak (Is this cake nice?)", He didn't answer. I was beginning to wonder if he just had his botox shot, or if he had some facial palsy. “Mestila awak kena kata sedap kan? Sebab awak kerja di sini (Surely you have to say it's nice, since you work here, right?) ” He gave me a half grin..ahh he CAN smile, I thought. I looked at Mariam and we smiled a private smile. We placed our order and he left.

I thought..forget the treatment, perhaps I can use this place to journal and read my book in the morning....just as that thought crossed my mind..the peaceful ambiance, flavoured by Pussycat Dolls’ songs was smashed to smitherins by a cackle of laughter and loud banterings at the cashier’s counter. The two waiters had finished eating and were teasing the girl at the counter loudly.

Classy decore, beautiful ambiance..all that for what..I am sure the restaurant owner had invested a hefty amount to garnish it with everything pleasing to the eyes, yet I wonder how much was spent to spruce up the most important element; the human factor. Did he take the trouble to make his staff feel proud to wear the restaurant’s uniform, so they act with respectful decorum when they adorn the restaurant's official attire. I also wonder what happened to the simple friendly gesture of smiling, and greeting guests, we asians are so famous for. Perhaps so much of our noble values are spent in our zealous chase of everything material.