The art of paying the bill- DESI STYLE


Bikram Vohra looks in the art of paying the bill – Desi style

Chana Masala with KulcheI love the way bills are paid in restaurants. It is an art and a science. Take you and four friends out on the town for dinner and you are having a great time then the steward brings the bill and someone says shall we split equals and everyone agrees except one person who says no, you had the lobster thermidor, I had veggie cutlets, let’s each pay what we ordered.

And now, thanks to this one guy we are suddenly doing advanced maths on the napkin, you had the red, you had the fish, who had the starters, I had only a croissant, no don’t put that in my column, we shared it, okay the sparkling water can go in mine, who had the dessert and through all this grand debate the steward has the look of death about him and who is paying his tip five ways, huh? If he could just get to that knife.

Then you have the gang that doesn’t make this undergrad fuss about the bill. Too mature for that. Four ways straight, no scene until one says, oops didn’t bring my wallet, forgot it, sorreeeee, just pay my share, will give it back to you soonest and now you have ended up paying half the bill and this guy has freeloaded and this wasn’t the deal but nothing you can do. And we all know one person who doesn’t have enough cash or forgot his wallet and he’s the one who had the jumbo prawns. Some of them are so adept at ducking the bill you would think they have taken a course in it.

My favourite is the bill sprint. As soon as the bill is produced everyone grabs for it and says, I’ll take it, it’s mine, lemme, lemme in a kind of chorus of synthetic excitement and generosity and then the race goes into slow motion and one guy cannot pull his wallet out, it is stuck at this opportune moment. The other drops a spoon and submarines under the table to look for it, another just has to rush to the loo and the fourth is riffling through the many pockets of his pouch but he cannot seem to locate his credit card which has conveniently turned as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel so guess who ‘wins’ the race… you.

And as you hand over your piece of plastic everyone reappears and says, oh you shouldn’t have, why did you, really, this was my treat, I was just looking for my spoon. Yeah, sure. Odds are you had the veggie cutlets.

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