India House, Montrose, NY: Who needs liars?
- Josh Mittleman
After hearing favorable comments about India House, on Rt. 9A in Montrose, NY, my wife and I decided to try it again on Monday. We'd had a lousy meal there several years back, which ranged from bland, oily baingan bharta to dried-out ras malai.
Knowing that Valentine's Day can be a busy night, I called ahead and had the following conversation.
"Hello, India House."
"Hi! You're open tonight?"
"Yes, we are."
"Will you have any trouble seating two adults with a baby?"
"We'll be there in fifteen minutes".
And we were, to find the parking lot full to overflowing and a line of people waiting for tables.
I don't care if they have the best food in North America: I don't need restaurants that lie to me. To hell with them.
indians have this habit of saying 'no problem' to EVERYTHING.....having survived the aryan invasions of 1500 b.c., then alexander and darius's ambitions, then sundry invasions from arabia, then the moghul rule, then the european infestation, then the congress party - the 'no problem' answer is better understood in the light of a coping mechanism than a simple lie.
give them a break. truth to tell, its an (admittedly annoying) cultural thing: the guy couldn't bear to turn you away because that would be too rude and inhospitable. seriously. so he tries to give you the answer you are looking for and hopes furiously that things will somehow reslove themselves by the time you show up.
its the same thing with asking for directions in india: my wife is always amazed that people won't tell you that they have NO idea where it is that you are looking for: they'll nod intelligently and give you detailed directions; their hope is that they've guessed right and been of service. so there you go.
Unlikely though it seems, there's some merit to what Howler's saying.
I've been to Spain over 15 times, playing jazz gigs all over the country. In Europe, they NEVER give you directions to the gig...you get to town and ask. And as I learned, when you ask directions in Spain, nobody EVER says "I don't know". They all point you in some direction...sometimes the correct one, often not.
I was practically apoplectic about this until my buddy Nono Fernandez explained that it's simply impolite to refuse to help, and that this is a deep cultural thing....very annoying to be sure, but never ever intended to be harmful.
Otra cultura, as they say.
That said, I'd have been pretty peeved, too, Josh. But...as with my experience in Spain (where I never accept directions that haven't been triple corroborated), maybe this should be a learning thing (i.e. don't call Indian restaurants asking questions like that!)
Phooey. If I accepted your argument, my reply would be that if they want American customers, they have to
run their restaurant by American standards.
But, frankly, I think your justification for their behavior is nonsense. I go to a half dozen other Indian restaurants regularly, and have never had any similar trouble with them. I have any number of Indian friends and colleagues, none of whom have any trouble with basic polite conversation.
re: Josh Mittleman
my, my. your honest, straightforward, brook-no-nonsense reply is awe-inspiring. but before i climb down from your camp on the moral high ground, let me say this: i thought your original post looked for some explanation of what seemed a senseless, irrational act. as i wasn't aware of your profound knowledge of indian restaurants and people, i didn't realise you were not looking for edification but simply sharing your knowledge of this terribly important fact that there is a liar at the india house in montrose, ny. so what are we waiting for? lets go lynch him.