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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Engleesh Eatouts

Now, this one's embarassing:

The last few years have seen a lot of coffee shops, food chains and speciality restaurants cropping up that cater to the upper-middle class which finds itself with a lot of money than ever before. These places are typical hangouts - well maintained, clean, have some low-volume music in the background, the bearers are courteous, parking hassles are minimal, etc. But more than anything, your privacy is ensured - unlike Saravana Bhavan where somebody can sit next to you or your girl friend, these new eat-outs respect the need for private conversations with our family and friends.

Good. So far. In an effort to make the educated, ready-to-spend circle respected and feel welcome, they speak English. I guess they assume that it would be an insult to converse in Tamil (or the regional language) with the clientele. Bad. Their English is not only 'not good' but very artificial. It's okay if they speak English to a customer who is not familiar with Tamil, but when I respond to a couple of questions in Tamil and when they insist on carrying on in English, that leaves a bad taste - an artifical flavour of the language that does a bad imitation of American accent. Instead of 'would you like' we get ' you wanna'. Utter 'cool' which sounds totally uncool. Explain a dish/drink in rapid strides that demands you to ask for a slower, clearer explanation.

It's very clear that these people are trying to create a conducive atmosphere for couples on a date or replicate a scene that is seen in English movies. These acquired mannerisms are what they are - 'acquired'. Sometimes I feel that I don't belong there. I feel welcome where the hotel management does what naturally comes to them. Waiters using vernacular with a smile on their face speaking understandable words is million-fold better than 'youwannamochaoralatte'.

-- Originally posted on CP on 20th September, 2006.

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