Perhaps, it was one of the worst experiences of my life, if not the worst experience, that I had a horrible lunch at Haveli restaurant on Queens Blvd in Queens, New York. This incident occurred about 2 months ago.
I cannot figure out the reasons for such a mistreatment because I am a good tipper – more than 20 percent even at a buffet lunch – but one reason that comes to mind and it may not be the only reason is that I am a Sikh and the employees at the restaurant were Hindus and perhaps Arya Samajis. If that be so, then the restaurant owner should simply be ashamed of himself and be glad that I did not pursue the matter on hate crime grounds.
I went to Haveli restaurant on a Saturday with a friend of mine who is an executive at a renowned organization. Knowing that I was coming in, the manager seated us at a table which was not set up and had no cutlery on it, while all the other tables were all set up. Trying not to insult him by changing the seat we waited for over 15 minutes before someone came to put knives and forks on our table, I decided not to make a scene about it.
Since it was buffet lunch – by the way, it is more expensive than most other Indian restaurants – we went to get the food. It was about 1:30 PM and the food carriages were practically empty. I kept quiet. No one came to give us water. I had to ask for it 4-5 times before water came and it was done in a manner as if I was an ACHHOOT and they were Brahmins. I still did not shout and kept quiet.
At the end of the meal, I asked for tea. It took them about 10 minutes to bring tea. And the tea was cold. The explanation was that they did not serve tea in American way where the milk and sugar is served separately but in the Indian way. I left the cold tea without drinking and still paid for it. Some bad memories become etched in our mind. It was very embarrassing for me and my friend but I did not make a scene. I was disappointed that the same Indian people would serve an American on hand and foot like slaves and mistreat their own people.
I still find it hard to believe that in this service oriented competitive restaurant business our people do not know how to serve. I hope other Sikhs are not so ill-treated because someone could sue them for their pants.
Personally, I do regret not taking any action even though I had many witnesses to this mistreatment.
Dr. J. S. Chandan
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