Bliss was in that dawn to be alive – 13

Indian Bureaucracy at Work | Pix Credit & Rights : Jan Banning

Indian Bureaucracy at Work | Pix Credit & Rights : Jan Banning

It is still a truth as plain as daylight that IT ( Industrial Training) is an opportunity. An opportunity for hotels to exploit IHM students blatantly. Everybody knows that it is where you can get some cultured physical labour at joke labour rates during the peak season of a year. It is funny that nothing has changed about it in 16 years since I underwent IT though doyens of the industry have come out spewing venom on the way IT is done in India. My theory is that 50% of the potential hotel managers of the future are lost simply because of the confusing career signals that they come across during IT. As it is, in a span of 10 years, 90% of an IHM batch leaves the hotel industry. This is the plain truth.

Now, I was determined about certain things before I reached Bangalore. I wasn’t going to spend my time in Bangalore being a hapless victim of the scam called ‘Industrial Training’. There is nothing remotely ‘Industrial’ or ‘Training’ about it. But, yes, it is ‘Industrious’ for a reason – if you had the gumption to put up with semi-loony orders like carrying 200 chairs to the convention centre or chopping up 10 large sacks of onions with a vengeance as if a giant’s convention was happening on Planet Earth. This deception was so not-happening and instead I was going to make my time in Bangalore worthwhile.

Day 2 in Reservations | Now a Malayali can feel that Bangalore in winter is a Siberian Tundra and get easily worked up if he doesn’t have his mandatory shower in the morning. Now I couldn’t take one since it was freezing and by the time I reached the Reservations, I was in a mood best described as abominable. Two trainees from a Mangalore Institute rushed out in a huff as I walked in. Immediately saw that the reservation phone was off the hook and made the mandatory double-check by huffing a hello into the receiver before intending to cradle it. What followed was a steady stream of pulsating invective that immediately raised the room temperature by a few notches. As my ears settled into the vituperation, quickly realised two things – one, the caller is an American and, two, the jokers who went out of the room had obviously made a mess of it by hanging up on the hapless caller like umpteen times out of sheer panic.

The Good Old ReservationsAll questions about my ancestry in this life and past dealt with amicably, the guy settled down and told me that he wanted to book a room. As I got it done for him, I asked him what had really happened with the other two trainees. What transpired was thus – they had picked up his call and could not get through his accent and kept doing what, what, why which then led to complete sentences like DONT CALL WE NOT UNDERSTAND CALL TOMORROW BYE repeated like 5 times every time the guy called up. Just before I walked in, the guy had lost his cool and started shouting in an effort to spell each word to be clear with his diction. As an answer, what he got was YOU THINK INDIA UNEDUCATED WE FOOLS DONT ALLOW THIS WE DONT WANT YOU YOU CAN GET OUT DONT CALL.

If at all he still wanted to book a room after that discourse, which he eventually did, it must have been some abiding fetish for India, or so I presumed.

Again, I was perplexed to not see any trainees around during lunchtime. Frustrated about the social scene, I came out of the canteen and looked around. Followed a few regular employees to the smoking zone near the lawns and, lo, was pleasantly surprised to see the entire contingent of trainees sprawled out on the lush greens, pleasantly soaking in the sun or engaged in lazy chit-chat.

Feeling a bit sheepish, I sidled up to this Sardarji who was glossing over a book that looked like some educational journal. Pretty intensely caught up, a very rare sight amongst IHMites, he looked up quizzically at me. I almost whispered the question about his whereabouts in the pre-lunch session. Utterly bamboozled at my question, he said “I was where all trainees usually are when they train at Ashok. Right here in the lawns.”

“You mean you didn’t work today?”

“No, I have the IGNOU exams coming up.” Waves the journal at me in confirmation. (In the 90’s, the present BHM was only a diploma and most students enrolled for a correspondence 3 year degree of choice from the Open University called IGNOU)

“But…but…won’t they find out that we are not working?”

“Are you kidding me?” Roars in laughter and I am drawing myself into a tight cocoon in embarrassment. “Are you from this planet, boss? Nobody really cares here. Why do you think I chose this hotel when I have my exams coming up?” And waves his head despairingly in recognition of my super-lowlife status.

I decided I wasn’t going to ask him if he ever intended to work.

Recently, a dear friend from IHM Bangalore told me, after he read my preceding piece on IT in this blog, that he had an instructor who used to say – Hotel Ashok? That is not a hotel, it is a building, A BUILDING.

How right, eh?!

Granite Hotel, a spoof of Grand Hotel (1932).


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