The Unsung Heroes


Last night I received an extraordinary compliment. We had a walk- in from TAPMI. Now walk-in in our jargon means a takeaway ordered 30 nostalgic photos of manipal 1997 to 2001by the customer by coming personally to the restaurant. This youngster, a young MBA aspirant was waiting for his order to be ready. Just then I noticed three youngsters taking there pictures in front of the guitars. I offered them to take their group photograph.

The young MBA student later commented that I should meet his marketing professor. He is always talking about customer satisfaction and that I would fit in the bill totally. It really felt good to be appreciated. But it also made me think of the many times I have had to stay in hotels and the extra service provided by some selfless staff. Only an incorrigible footloose guy like me can appreciate the value of these deeds.

Today’s post is a tribute to that selfless tribe who tries to make our stay in hotels as comfortable as possible.

I remember the one time I was in Huddersfield, a quaint charming town in the North of England. I had checked out of the hotel and as I was entering the car, I realized that my guest last night had not closed the door properly and my battery had discharged. I called the maintenance crew and they informed me that they would take at least forty five minutes to come. I had nothing to do. I was loitering in the parking lot when the girl at the reception noticed it. She came out and asked me if I was alright. I explained . She immediately took me inside the dining room and arranged for coffee and brought some newspapers and mockingly warned me not to step out till the repairing was done. I told her that she had a sworn fan and a customer for life!

I had some incredible experiences in India too. Once I was visiting a friend in IIT Kanpur. When I called the hotel for reservation, I was asked for my mobile number. I didn’t have any. I explained that I had landed just a few days ago in India. The person who picked the call was the GM of the hotel. He asked me the train timing. I was pleasantly surprised to see a car waiting to pick me up. Needless to say it was a very memorable stay.

When my neice was applying to various colleges, they went to Nagpur. I used to stay in Centre Point very often when in India. I called the GM there and requested him to help as they were both ladies. He not only picked them from the station but kept a car at their disposal for the time they were there. What more could one expect!

My niece was doing her MBA from Mysore and was unable to come to Gwalior. She warned me that I must not return to USA without meeting her. How could I dare to? My flight reached late in Bangalore and by the time I reached Mysore, it was past midnight. I always prefer booking my hotels in advance. But this time since the plan wasn’t fixed, I was going straight there. Besides she had said that there was no dearth of good hotels. Alas, when I went there most of the hotels were booked. Finally we found a hotel. The receptionist kind hearted that he was , enquired about my dinner. I told him that it had been a long flight because of the delay and I was longing more for a drink rather than the food. The bar and the restaurant were closed. He said he would try to get something from outside. He asked me what I would like to drink. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. So I said anything as long as it had some alcohol in it. Unfortunately the market too was closed. He thought for a moment then called the Head Chef. Luckily the Head Chef was still there overseeing the cleaning.  He explained that there was a guest from North India who was very tired and was visiting us for the first time. Can we offer him something to drink. I was impressed with his hospitality and persuasive skill. As a special gesture , they opened the bar and the kitchen. The chef came and told me that I could order anything I pleased. I invited him to share a drink. But he was a teetotaler. It was a pretty humbling experience. When now I am a restaurateur, I have tried to pay forward by obliging some guests once in a while.

Another time I had ordered my dinner in Glasgow in Scotland but was unable to eat anything due to a nagging toothache. The considerate hostess enquired the kitchen if they could prepare a hot custard with some cakes and replaced my order. The tears in my eyes were certainly not out of pain.

When the young MBA complimented me, I felt like he was indirectly offering his tribute to all such unsung heroes who work selflessly without expecting anything except gratitude in return.

A big Thank You from the peregrinating fraternity.


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