Sorry…. we do not have that….

For anyone living in Mumbai, how many times have you gone to a restaurant or a cafe or a wine lounge or some kind of eatery and have ordered something and the response from the waiter is: “Sorry, we do not have that.” He says it with a half a smile and an expression on his face that you cannot help but just want to smack him upside down, over his head!

I have heard this statement so many times and it drives me nuts. I do not know if this is just a Mumbai phenomenon or a common theme all over India, but I do not care. All I know is that when I am starving and I go to a restaurant to have a nice meal and I cannot get want I would like to have,and it’s on the menu,  it is the most frustrating and irritating experience. I shouldn’t say “most”, because god knows in Mumbai, I have experienced far worse. But, it is quite irritating.

This has happened to me at wine lounges, at cafes, and little eateries, all of whom exhibit an extensive and sumptuous menu, but when you see something you really like and you order it, 25% of the times, it is “not available.” And this has happened in all calibers of restaurants – from the expensive ones to the cheap ones. So why is it on your menu?

A month ago, I went to a fancy restaurant and asked for an item on the menu and was told it was not available. A little irritated, I scanned the menu again and when I ordered something else, was told that was not available too. So I looked point-blank at the waiter and asked him, “Can you tell me what is available today in the vegetarian options?” He gives me some options, I place my order, and he scoots off. It’s amazing how there isn’t an apology for, what literally is, false advertising on the menu nor is there any acknowledgement for the inconvenience it may cause the customer. I swear to god, I have never experienced this in any other part of the world that I have visited, at least not on a regular basis. I go to a restaurant, I place my order, and I get what I order. How simple is that?

I guess I just have to get used to the idea that this is just how it is in Mumbai and know that, when I sit down for a meal, I should expect that what I chose from the menu will not be available, and if it is, it will be a nice treat for me. I know I am exaggerating this above notion, and I cannot help it sometimes. It bothers me how tough living in this city can be. I still have to fight with cabs who will stop when I hail for one, but will not go to my destination when it is inconvenient for them; I still have to fight with the garbage lady who tries to get money from me at every opportunity she finds, despite the fact that she gets paid; I still have to go through hoops to get anything done in Mumbai…..the list is endless. But, I hope that in time, although the list may continue to be endless, I would have gained the strength and the know-how to deal with life in Mumbai.


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