My lack of etiquette seems to be deplored by many. Perhaps it’s the vituperative manner in which I write? Or an unabashed willingness to call time on second-rate establishments? Or maybe just an avowed loathing of maxi dresses, pinky-up wine drinkers, fluorescent coloured foods, vomit-worthy couples, PR “girls” of easy virtue, Social Media “Directors”, free-loading bloggers, Amul cheese, menu lists on IPADs, overcooked pasta, Pali Village Cafe, public selfie (sorry Celfi) taking and the list goes on…
The late Emily Post, one of the authorities on etiquette was keen to emphasise the importance it had on making people feel “comfortable”. For example, the reason one breaks bread rolls with hands is promote the ritual of sharing and openness and for the most basic reason, we do it because others expect us to. “Please like me, I’m a good human being, uncouth….me?…Never”.
So you can imagine my angst, when a gentleman, in an act of gross savagery, slipped his shoes off and decided it was appropriate, mid meal, to lie flat down across the sofa style seating at Delhi Highway. If we are talking about pure disregard for social norms and etiquette, this must be up there. Seeing the crusty plates of meat (feet) of a middle age man whilst trying to enjoy North Indian food, is something I unequivocally never want to repeat.
Before you accuse me of tarnishing a place by the acts of one reprehensible human, it would be remiss of me to skip over the generous and affable birthday gathering on the left. I look over at a young boy frantically blowing out candles , and enquire ” how old’s the birthday boy?”.
“She’s 81!” one of the ladies replies, pointing towards Grandma in high spirits.
“Well Happy Birthday Auntie!” (how do I address a lady of 81?)
“Have some Cake, beta”
Doing the polite thing I take the cake, and pass it to my rail-thin dining partner, who mysteriously claims to have been brought up on a diet of butter chicken and rasgullah. Such a scene, is again testament to the incredible hospitality and warm-heartedness that is innate to many Indian families. This has nothing to do with etiquette, mind you, it’s about being brought up as thoughtful and decent human beings.
Back to the Highway. I forgot to add one thing to my list of pet hates: “MDF” (Medium Density Fibreboard). In short, it’s wood made by mix wood shavings with a load of strange resins and glues to produce a ‘interior designer’s’ (note the inverted commas) best friend. Delhi Highway can’t get enough of it. The car showroom-like venue is an ode to the obscenity of everything cheap and gaudy: mock wooden balconies, curvy trelices and faux-suede sofa seating.
The food is less obscene but hardly riveting (no pun intended). The Paneer Tikka platter, even sported a “pesto” variety. If pesto is used to a describe a marinade of any old green gunk, then it would be accurate. Where I’m from though it has some meaning (2/5). The Dahi Seekh Kebabs whilst strange were not unpleasant – a creamy curd based filling with a doughy exterior (2.5/5). The Paneer Butter Masala, which I had requested spicy, had about as much potency as an unaided Michael Douglas (google it – 2/5). The Bhindi Do Pyaaza was probably the best of the lot (3/5), nicely spiced with a rich semi-dry cashew nut gravy.
To conclude, if it’s my way or this Highway, I’ll chose my way.