I love Indian food. I love it the same way I love sushi - I order exclusively off the "rolls" side of the menu, which, from what I'm told from sushi "foodies" (translation: pretentious dickbags), is not "real sushi". To that, I say whatever, bro. It's delicious, and I'm spending money in the restaurant. I prefer a pot luck of veggies and rice and fish, crafted and wrapped in mayo and egg and avocado and whatever-the-fuck else, drown it in soy sauce and shove it in my face, white face. A slab of gamey raw fish on a small bed of white rice? Fuck you, you're boring me.
But I digress. Back to Indian food.
Like sushi, I tend to be unadventurous and boring when it comes to what I order. My favorite thing, which is the only fucking thing I've ever eaten, is chicken tikka masala. My only basis of knowledge of chicken tikka masala is that it's the most ordered and favored item on every Indian restaurant on Seamless.com (which means it's most popular amongst Financial District yuppies and Pace University students). The first time I ordered it, I fell in love. It was so good, I didn't mind the subsequent three days of shitting broken glass and burping it up in the faces of girls I was trying to sleep with.
In both of these instances, I tend to lean toward the ordinary, "Americanized" dishes that a native would likely never order in a heartbeat. But guess what? I spend money in the restaurant and tip well. So what the fuck do they care what I eat?
Which brings me to this story:
I'm at the bell desk replenishing my valet tickets. An Indian man, stack of restaurant menus in his hand, approaches me. He has a thick mustache and an airy vacancy in his dark, beady eyes. I immediately recognize the menus, as they have a location in my neighborhood. I've ordered my chicken tikka masala from there numerous times. While delicious, I tend to order from there as a last resort because it's the most expensive in the area. I won't say the name of the place, but I will say that it starts with a "B" and ends with "enares".
Anyway, the Indian man puts the menus on the desk. His accent is thick:
Indian Man - "Hello sir, I have menus here for your guests."
Doorman - "Terrific, thank you!"
Indian Man - "You know, for Indian people. Arab people."
Doorman - "So, no white people?"
I was joking - I even nudged his arm a little and laughed. I'm thinking that he's going to correct what he said, playing along with my busting his balls. He did not. He kept talking.
Indian Man - "You can give it to Indian people, Arab people. You know."
Ok, well if you're going to keep talking...
Doorman - "So, you want me to give this to Indian and Arab people? No whites? You don't want me to give them to any white people?"
Now, I was still half-joking. At this point, I wanted to see how far I could push it before he realized I was calling him out on his poor approach to getting new customers. But it didn't faze him. Not. One. Bit.
Indian Man - "Give it to Indian people, Arab people."
Doorman - "Sir, excuse me if I'm misunderstanding you, but are you telling me to give this menu exclusively to Indian and Arab people? Not anyone else? Do you realize that might be a little fucked up?"
Indian Man - "Give it to Indian people, Arab people. You know, white people. Black people. They don't know."
Doorman - "They don't know? What don't they know? How to read and order from a menu?"
Indian Man - "You know, white people. Black people. They don't know. They don't know this."
A long pause. He's not relenting, nor is he joking. He really doesn't want me to give the menus to anyone who isn't Indian or Arab. I break the silence.
Doorman - "Are you fucking kidding me?!"
Before I could explode on him (because it was that kind of day), another Bellman, a white guy, comes to the desk, fresh off getting stiffed on a front.
Bellman - "What's up?"
Doorman - "This dude has some menus to give to guests, but he doesn't want white or black people to order from there. Just Indians and Arabs."
Without hesitation, the Bellman takes the menus, cocks them over his head like Thor about the lay down the hammer, and slams them in the garbage.
The Indian Man quickly does an about-face and darts to the door without saying anything else.
Now, before you play devil's advocate in your brain, attempting to justify the piece-of-shit, racist thing this asshole did (and the restaurant condoning it), let me paint another picture for you:
Imagine me, a white guy, walking into an establishment, any establishment, and speaking to someone of a different skin color. Any skin color, doesn't matter. I hand them a stack of menus from, say, an Irish pub. Then I tell that person, to their face, that I only want them to send me white people. Any other races are a no-no. Is there any scenario where I don't become the national face of racism? Would you believe, for a second, that that employee wouldn't report me to one of these exploitation websites, branding me a hateful enemy and calling for protests to shut down my restaurant immediately?
It's not like he didn't want a bunch of drunken white people stumbling in after a Knicks game and loudly wreaking havoc in the place. He didn't even want to have a situation where HE WOULDN'T HAVE TO WATCH THEM EAT IT.
I know I'm not the first guy he's approached with that bullshit. Why is that okay?
What's the difference between a delivery ticket that says "Mark Smith" and "Mahesh Patel?" They're both spending money, keeping your business afloat. What the fuck do you care?
I hate to be the guy who says, "I'll just take my business elsewhere." But in New York City, throw a fucking rock and you've found an Indian restaurant. So, yeah, I'll be taking my business elsewhere.