Earlier this week in Panaji, Spykey and I hit a restaurant that had been written up in Lonely Planet as “a compulsory pit stop”. Now, granted, it’s been nearly three years since our edition of the book was published, and a lot can change in that time, but the restaurant was anything but “a compulsory pit stop”; it wasn’t shit, it was just solidly average. Probably thanks to its guide book recommendation the place was packed with Western tourists, the stereo was pumping covers of ’80s and disco hits, and the waiters were wearing over-the-top uniforms comprising bow ties and check shirts that were completely out of sync with the budget-ish prices on the menu. Basically, the place was unashamedly a tourist sink. But, you know, whatever.
So we’re sitting there about to attack the food that’s been placed on our table when a middle-aged German man (complete with baseball cap and massive camera bag) throws a tanty because his main course comes out before his starter. Frustrating, yes, but not at all unusual in lower-priced Indian restaurants. And while the German man was probably justified in pointing out the discrepancy and requesting his starter first, he instead launches into a furious tirade, loudly and publicly shaming the waiter, sarcastically putting him down, and patronisingly lecturing him on how to do his job. After the waiter went back inside, looking like he felt like five kinds of shit, the German man followed him and gave some guy who looked like the owner a serve about how other tables who ordered later than him were eating their correct dishes while he was not. This, mind you, in a restaurant where this guy’s entire meal with his wife, with booze, was going to cost him less than five euros.
Having received his starter and having aggressively berated the waiter for “throwing the plate down” on the table instead of daintily placing it, the German man shut up for a while and ate his food. Lisa and I had well and truly decided this guy was a prize arsehole and were beginning to feel ashamed on behalf of The Rest Of The World, but things only got worse. When the arsehole had about three bites to go on his starter the poor waiter brought out his main, triggering the Mother Of All Rants about how it’s poor service to bring the main before the starter is finished and how it’s going to get cold and look at you people wearing uniforms and serving customers and doing a shit job and shaming India and on and on. By now even the arsehole’s wife was starting to get visibly embarrassed and was staring with intense concentration at her food. So the waiter took the dish inside and when he came back out the arsehole, with great exaggerated ceremony, placed his knife and fork on his starter plate, wiped his lips with his serviette, and announced to the entire restaurant that he had finished his starter and was ready for his main. Spykey had to be stopped from walking across to his table and slapping him upside the head.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
A couple of days later we were at Palolem beach, sitting in beach cafe enjoying the sunset with a Kingfisher and a cocktail. Behind us sat a topless English man ranting at one of the staff members in a thick Cockney accent. The English man’s bitter complaint was that the locals need to learn that “where people like [him] come from, if I want a fucking taxi I’ll fucking ask for a taxi, so stop asking me if I want a fucking taxi.” Essentially this guy had voluntarily purchased a plane ticket to India, purposefully selected accommodation on a super-touristy Indian beach, and was upset that – surprise, surprise! – India and especially his chosen beach is full of touts. In Birmingham there are no touts. QED.
While I suppose it’s normal for people to be upset if their holiday expectations are not satisfied, if those expectations bear absolutely no relation to the reality of their situations then it’s inevitable that they will be disappointed, pissed off, and angry little balls of arsehole on their holidays, therefore partially spoiling them. Sorta their own fault, no?