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Balamurugan of Raj Bhavan hotel in Nungmbakkam, Chennai

As happened on the 6th of may 2013

Mr.Balamurugan of Raj Bhavan hotel in Nungmbakkam, Chennai

I and my 6yr old on our way back from Subash Thyagarajan’s ” Meet the Folders!!!” Workshop on Origami when we decide to get into this hotel Raj Bhavan in Nungambakkam for a quick bite.

It was one in the afternoon and obviously lunch time.

We sat in one corner of the ground floor hall. Enquired if we could get light Tiffin instead of lunch, since we did not have anything since that morning. Me and Aswanth wanted Mini Idlies and Sambar vadai. The server said he does not have anything other than Dosa. We though we will leave since we were just 10 minutes away from home and we have our home made dosa waiting there already. Just then another waiter who was witnessing out conversation and asked… “Enna saar thambikku mini idli venuma”. In no time he took over the table and served us with mini idlies and sambar vadai.

While we both dived into the sambar filled vadai and mini idlies, my “Devilish mind” said I must find out how this guy will react if I lie that I had no money to pay. The total bill was Rs96.

I called the server closer and said… “Annaey, kaasu ille… purse veetlaye maranthu vachuten”.

He said, he is supposed to inform supervisor about it and that he is not a decision taker on it. Supervisor in a blue safari suit came and enquired. I repeated my state of plight to him too and offered to leave my Camera and cell phone with them which was worth about a Lakh rupee. He took a virtual dive inside my bag to see the camera and my Samsung Note cell phone, and then walked towards the cashier at the main entrance.

The cashier started abusing me in Kannada. He was shouting at the supervisor but was all directed to me. He asked things like, if I was so stupid to leave home without money, what if the camera and phone is a stolen one, Why the hell is bringing his kid for eating if does not have money to pay… and so on.

Meanwhile I asked the server if I put him in trouble. He said, there was an incident in the past that someone gave him a slip and he ended up paying the bill from his salary. He thanked me for being open about not having the money and not putting him in un-expected trouble.

By now the supervisor in the safari is back. I was a little upset and I told him “Sir I understand Kannada, but cannot talk back in his language”. He of course justified with a valid point that the cashier is also an employee and is answerable to the hotel management. But what I wonder is if that gives him the right to abuse me or for that matter anyone who was in a situation like this at their hotel.

Now comes the surprising part, the server intervened and told the supervisor. “Sir, ivaru yemathaamaey kaasu illennu sonnathey periya vishayam”. Then he turned to me and offered to pay the bill of Rs.96 from his salary. I continued to pretended to be out of money and thanked him and was about to leave. Picked up my bag and Aswanth finished his last mini idly and got up.

I was waiting to see if the server will ask me if I will come back to pay. He never asked, not even close to bothered. Instead he said thank you and waved bye to Aswanth. I was confused if he trusted me to come back, or if he was holding back the question not to embarrass me.

Now I exposed my “Naradhar Plan” to the supervisor and the entire staffs that was standing around us to see what was going to happen to a guest who finished his food and has no money to pay.

Every soul there was surprised and asked why I did it.

Now I told them that, this server whose name is Balamurugan and hails from a small village called Reddiyarpalayam in Dindugal district, was a great man and will go places for his presence of mind and helping tendency. This is one reason I love Tamil Nadu, its culture and most of its people. The best hospitality and trust you will ever enjoy.

First, he attended to a table that was not even his, after the first waiter refused to serve us mini iidlies and sambar vadai during lunch time.

Second, he was very clear in the process or protocol and informed that he is not a decision maker at the hotel. He followed and respected the rules of his work place.

Third, he offered to help me sensing that my case was genuine. Not even their supervisor or the cashier who must be earning much higher than Balamurgan even thought about it. Both were kannadigas.

Fourth and most important, he appreciated that I admitted I was out of money unlike his past experience where a customer had given a slip and the amount was deducted from his salary.

I was totally impressed. If I ever started a food joint, I will go hunt him down from that place for sure.

I paid the bill of Rs.96 and in front of the entire staff looking at us rewarded him with another Rs.100 and thanked him.

God bless this guy!

Hotel Raj Bhavan Chennai

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