Monday, December 11, 2006


I saw a scene tonight, which I never thought would happen in a calm and peaceful Indian restaurant, with meditative music, with polite and soft spoken waiters, and food served on trays, delicately, tenderly.

There were three young men sitting on a table across from me, they were drinking and having a good time, and conversing with lots of f-words and little else that could disturb my moment of peace at the end of the day.

And then the drunkenness escalated, the laughter became louder, and before we knew it, food was being smashed on their faces, and plates of curry piling on top of their heads. I was advised to not look, to not make eye contact, to not provoke. The waiters were just watching, first with a welcoming smile of any dignified host, then with a bit of irritated smile, and at last with a little bit of agitated frown. But they were calm. The men started to be rude to the waiters, started to make fun of the food, and as I was trying to not watch, while the people on the table across from me (not the vandals) were just not watching effortlessly, and as the food was being thrown around, and the f-word shouted about, and the placid waiters watching, I kept wondering "so where is the police?"

As disturbing a scene as it was (perhaps because it was novel to me, perhaps because one of the men's head was shaven, perhaps because they were three large British men and every other one of us--with the exception of the other table--were little Asians with a color tone different than white) what really threw me off was not the drunken behavior of these hooligans. Rather, it was the response of the other table's gentleman: "Well they seem to have had a good time, and at least they spend good money in your restaurant."

I don't know what to make of this! It is either that the British people are used to violence in the restaurants and they think it is an acceptable form of having a good time; or it is about the Indian restaurant staff being the servants to their white master's whims and that they ought to be grateful that they have made money out of such desolate group of individuals.

As we were leaving, one of the waiters was kneeling and trying to get the rice and the sauce off of the carpet and velvet seats; and the other one walked ahead of us to open the door and wish us good night, with a vast smile.

And as I walked out, I felt a tremendous respect for the ability of these men, to not get or act angry.


homeyra said...

Javab-e ablahan khamooshist? :)
This reminds me of stories about the world cup, was it in Lyon? remind me to tell you when we see each other.

René w/o web said...

I as well have a big respect for people able to smile under these circumstances as I am afraid I would not be able to do so (or better: hope I would not let do so unconfronted). Because there is something else at stake as well I feel. I do not think it right to only educate morons to be so as a help to other's people training to adapt to every possible situation. I always have the feeling that if I do not react in any way to my not being OK with the situation I am somehow collaborating with this kind of vandals.
Just like I really do not think that an indian restaurant can be paid enough in money to justify this disrespect of some of my white brothers in this world.
I am sad, that I cannot offer a realistic alternative either that is possible for everyone to achieve. The picture of 20 suffering (because that is what will happen, i am afraid) for 4 to have a good time, somehow seems leading to horror and not to nirvana. But of course, I am an exaggerated idealist in mind and spirit. In the physical world I am often very corrupt, I have to admit.
Ahhh, so confusing all this. May peace settle in me and mine and extend itself through me to the poor spirits in this world.