Happy In Havelock! Sukhi In Swarajdeep!

An unassuming dinner with close friends at the Delhi Club House in June 2018 resulted in all of us whipping our phones out and booking more or less non refundable tickets for a holiday to the Andamans in January 2019. Clearly, being audacious and adventuresome in our plans came naturally to us. But then again, the best laid plans are usually these impromptu kinds.

Come January 2019, we stuck to our guns and were all ready, eager and excited to soak in some sun at the beautiful and picturesque beaches of the Andamans.

We decided to stop over at Kolkata for a day, before heading out to Port Blair. This was done purely to relive memories (the party kinds) for two of us who spent a considerable amount of time in the city.

For me, personally it was a homecoming of kinds as we ended up staying at the ITC- A hotel where I slogged my ass off for 4 years day in and out. Our day in the lap of luxury at the ITC was punctuated by beers, food, a gym session (yes we did that on a holiday as well) and just a little bit of rest. Although one has to put it out there- Service levels on the whole have drastically dropped at the ITC Sonar, even the food was nothing to write home about. It’s a little disappointing when you see that, especially when you were a part of the machinery that ran the place and ensured top notch service levels always.

At night, we decided to paint the town red (wishful thinking). We ended up going out to one place and one place only and were back at the hotel at 0030 hrs. A 6 AM flight and the realization that we were not 25 anymore made us haul our asses back.

Havelock, now called Swarajdeep was the destination of choice for us in the Andamans. It’s difficult and rather unfair on my part to attempt to describe how beautiful the destination is, all I would say is that you’re missing out on a lot if you haven’t visited any of the islands in the Andamans yet. Forget all those International beach destinations in South East Asia that you keep hearing about. Do yourself a favour and visit this gem in your own backyard. Blue waters and white sand, the sight of which makes you feel that everything is right in the world for that moment and if there is ever a representation of how life should be it’s this pristine sight. This is exactly what Havelock and its beaches have.

The best way to get there is a ferry ride from Port Blair which takes about 1.5 hours on the faster one. To our surprise, the ride was very comfortable, the ferry was top notch and the logistics of it all were very well handled- far better that some of the ferry rides that we have taken to get to islands at some International Destinations. Accommodation options are limited, in the sense that you either have a bunch of these high end resort properties which charge anything from 10 to 20k per night or you have the basic back packer kind of places which charge between 2 to 4k per night. The segment in between is completely missing.

Even in the high end resort properties, especially where we were staying whilst the product was great, the villas were great and you had nice views, the service and the food left a lot to question. This was actually the case all across the island (barring a couple of places) both food and service were average to say the least at the places that we visited. Personally, I feel there lies a huge opportunity there but I’ll save those thoughts for another blog 🙂

Our time at Havelock was action packed to say the least. A trip to the Andamans is incomplete without a dive and it’s something that we all ended up doing (some more eager than the others :)). I have to say that I was initially a little apprehensive as I have had and continue to have ENT issues but I’m so glad that I did it. It’s a surreal experience and one that I would recommend for all. We spent a lot of time at the infamous Radhanagar beach (mostly in the water) and it was as relaxing as it was refreshing and re-energizing, I could live there!!. Our hunt for good food was an ongoing process, some places hit the spot and some were a miss. The evenings were mostly spent at the resort and were accentuated with alcohol, conversations and some weird ass drunken challenges. No place in Havelock is open beyond 1030 PM so were also retiring pretty early by our standards, which also meant waking up nice and early for a run by the beach :). The 4 days that we spent there seemed insufficient and gloomy faces prevailed when we had to take our ferry back to Port Blair.

We had a night at Port Blair before heading back home. Ended up staying at a cute little guest house which had a great view, amazing open spaces and just a great vibe. So much so that we spent all our time at the guest house fueled by some day drinking and great conversations. Kudos to us for being all touristy !!

All in All, it was a great start to the year and an absolutely superlative way of spending my Birthday. If I had to do it over, I would do exactly the same thing 🙂.

P.S: On a holiday, no matter how beautiful the destination is or what activity you’re engaging in, if you’ve not gone with the right bunch of people none of it really matters. I feel blessed to have spent this holiday with close friends who contributed to making this experience truly magical.

-Kanav Mata


Tu Jaanta Nahin Hain Mera Baap Kaun Hai!!!


“Tu Jaanta Nahin hain mera baap kaun hain”

You’ve heard it in school….

You’ve heard it during your colony cricket game…

You’ve heard it during college brawls…

You’ve heard it during drunken fights at night clubs…

You’ve heard it during arguments over a fender bender…

It’s a line that a very large part of Delhi is recognized by, lives by, swears by and gets away with. (unfortunately)

It’s a line that used to threaten innocent people because apparently “Unka baap koi nahin hain”.

It’s a line that rich, immature, entitled, spoilt, crass, overgrown babies use to feel powerful.

We’ve all by now seen the video where Mr.Pink Pants walks out with his gun like it’s a toy that daddy gave him to play with and he becomes Oh So Macho with the gun in his hand. Now I have no clue about what played out for  Mr.Pink Pants to walk out with his gun and neither do I want to know, and neither do I want to know why the woman in the front seat was contributing to the aggravation and neither do I want to know why the woman in the back seat was filming the entire incident!

But here is what I know, I know how it makes people like you and me feel.

It makes my blood boil that Mr. Pink Pants in all probability will get away with this.

A sense of disbelief engulfs me when I think of the ease with which he managed to get the gun into the hotel and an even stronger sense of disbelief engulfs me when I think of the ease with which he pulled out the gun and walked towards the guy, without even batting an eyelid or stopping to think even once

A sense of helplessness comes over me when I try to place myself in that situation. Would I run, Would I fight back, Would that be the end….

I’ve used Mr.Pink Pants as an example but the problem is not limited to just one incident. The problem lies deep rooted within Delhi’s power hungry culture.

For a moment let’s put aside the fact that the legal system in our country is beyond repair and also let’s put aside the fact that almost anyone can be bought out at the right price, and let’s try to figure out the origins of this problem.

I personally feel it’s all about the upbringing, there have to be some seeds sowed in the head of that 10, 12, 13 year old spoilt brat who eventually in a few years has the balls to whip his gun out at a public place without bothering about any consequences that may follow. The sense of right and wrong has not been explained to this person, he/she has not been around people who display a strong and ethical value system and do note that none of the Mr. Pink Pants category turn out to be serial killers, they are just power hungry, egoistic, entitled dimwits. In fact, the only thing that this person has been brought up with is a sense of power, money and entitlement which in their world translates into- “I can do whatever the fuck I want and get away with it”.

Till this does not change, this city will continue to be plauged with many more Mr. Pink Pants and people like you and me will in all likelihood be crushed under their might. Believe me, – It makes me cringe even when I write this line, but it’s the sad and unfortunate truth.

And I understand that things are changing, people are standing up to power, tables are turning, people are coming together as one- but we still have a rather long way to go.

So the next time when someone comes up to me and says “Tu Jaanta nahin hai mera baap kaun hai!!!!”

My retort to that person will be “Tu Jaanta nahin hai mera baap kaun hai!!!”

My father is the person who has imbibed strong values and principles which have helped me become a decent human being, be successful on my own accord, respect the law, not misuse any sort of power given to me, respect others and not stoop down to the level of people like you.!!!.

P.S- My Mother also played a role 🙂

P.P.S – I have no affiliation with any political party, neither do I want to make this a moral science class. Consider this purely an outburst of what I’m feeling, and in probability what many of you are also feeling.








Kaboom!!!!!! Nope that is not the sound of Kim Jong-un nuking the US. It is in fact the sound of the techno scene nuking the NCR and when I say techno I use it as an all encompassing word for deep house, progressive house etc..(apologies if I have offended anyone who wants to be technically correct). It’s caught on like wild fire, a wild forest fire that does not show signs of being extinguished and by no means is any techno lover complaining.

As recent as 2 years back one had to wait months and months for a good techno scene to happen. It was like a really special event and one waited with bated breath for it to take place. Cut to 2018, you now have a techno scene happening every single weekend with the right blend of artists, ranging from the kinds who could be just starting out, to some of the more experienced ones and then every once in a while an international heavyweight shows up. One is now in fact spoilt for choice and this augers very well for the music scene in the NCR

You always have the usual suspects – Auro, Summer House Cafe, Junction, Raasta, Privee etc.. devoting one of their nights of the weekend to a techno artist.

But what’s really taken off and what’s really sparking this fire is entities organizing independent techno scenes, the likes of Locals,Danza, Shltr

Locals has set the bar very high in terms of how they organize these events. They are very selective about who they let in (it’s a closed group), they promote a lot of homegrown artists and there just seems to be a lot of collaboration, a lot of respect, a lot of love being spread at their events. If I have to sum it up, it’s the vibe that their events generate that keeps them going and has made them garner respect among the fraternity. Locals allows you to be you, it get’s the fact that people there could be in different zones and vibing differently. The fact that as an individual one is comfortable with their own vibe and can also build on the collective vibe that is created by the positive energy of the people around say’s a lot about the place.

Separately- Ikraam, a friend and someone who runs Milk Events, lives and breathes the party scene in whichever city he chooses to set base in, has also quickly realized the potential this scene has and pounced on it with all that he has. More often than not his weekend events (irrespective of location) have a techno artist headlining them.

Every second weekend or so you have these events at some farmhouse and at times they are also spread over a couple of days, making them into some sort of a mini festival. A larger and more picturesque venue, fewer restrictions on timings, more of an opportunity for the artist to express him/herself holds these independent events in good stead.

Us techno lovers have not only responded well to this but have a huge hand in bringing about this change. After visiting many of these events, the observant me could not resist but classify the crowd at these events:

The “Usual Suspects“: These are the kinds, who are in it for the music. You’ll see them at most events and what actually sets them apart is their knowledge of the kind of music the artist is playing. They will sip on a few drinks during the duration of the night and focus a lot on the music. It’s easy to spot them, only if you are one yourself :). They generally have a good vibe going on about them and spread and share that vibe.

The “Let’s See what the fuss is about”: These are the kinds, who have heard a lot about the techno scene, are not great fans of the music but they drop in just to get a sense of what the fuss is all about. It’s possible that they look a little lost and feel a little out of place as well. Some people in this category actually get hooked and eventually make it to the “Usual Suspects”, whereas some are like. “I’m never attending a techno scene again”

The “Walk on the Wild Side”: You’ll see these people at selected events. They take a collective call (as a group) basis the music, the place, the vibe, that tonight is the night where they walk to the wild side. You’ll see them oscillating between bursts of high energy vibes to mellow movements to catching breathers to conversations and above all spreading love, All depending on what stage of their rage they are in 🙂

The “It’s cool to be seen here”: It’s important to mention this kind because they exist, and in a decent majority. They have no clue of what is happening, who is playing etc.. They are their just there because everyone else is there and according to them their coolness quotient goes up if they are seen at such events. They don’t have a vibe at all and if any it’s a negative one. They are also the kinds who are very likely to create a ruckus. Let’s hope for the sake of techno lovers the less we get of this variety the better it is.

I know I’ve mentioned the word “Vibe” multiple times, but it’s important, because that’s what makes or breaks a techno event- “The Vibe”. It’s nothing but a combination of the music, the place and the people. All of this put together could make or break the vibe of a place. You could have great music but if majority of your crowd is the “it’s cool to be seen here kinds”, your vibe has gone down the drain and there is no rescuing it. It’s the perfect amalgamation of the elements I mentioned above which makes you say that” Damn this place has a great vibe”

Here is my only fear – “An overdose”. Too much of anything is never good. To give you an example I was at Summerhouse Café a couple of weeks back and there was a techno artist playing. The place was pretty much packed and you could see the regular lot of people there. I was there with a friend and we spent only 30 to 45 minutes there. The reason we left was that every time we tried to vibe to the music we just could not connect. When we walked out we were discussing what the problem was and we realized that the music just did not do it, it sounded like one of those sets that one plays when you have friends over and you’re having like a scene on the rooftop or something- far too familiar and just blah.

I honestly hope and pray that the techno scene does not disappear into thin air just like every other party trend does in the NCR. There will undoubtedly be a point where the fire settles down, let’s just hope it does not extinguish. In the mean time- Vibe on 🙂 

Beer Pong!!

The third story from our epic journey involves six plastic glasses, a small plastic ball and lots of beer!! For the uninitiated, I am talking about Beer Pong.

It was our last night at Gili Islands and without a shadow of doubt, we wanted to make the most of it. After jumping from place to place and getting suitably buzzed, I managed to convince the boys that we should try our hand at beer pong. I can’t recall the name of the place but the only thing that was happening there was beer pong. It would have had some 20 odd tables set up, music blaring, plastic balls flying from one side of the table to the other, people fighting, shouting, competing and downing beer faster than a Bugatti Veyron

Now none of us had ever played beer pong before but at least I trusted my cricketing skills to throw and land the ball in the right place. Arjun and I went against each other to start things off and for the first few rounds it’s safe to say that I felt like I was competing against a nobody. Glass after Glass, Round after Round he was made to down his beer as I kept landing my shots. Karan was a rather loud bystander during this phase, cheering and applauding each shot and giving Arjun much needed encouragement. Over the next few rounds the Southpaw fought back, his mojo was flowing and he kept landing his shots, which meant that now I was downing my beers at a rather hurried pace. We both had different techniques of throwing and they seemed to work well for us. I would have lost count but I am pretty sure that between the both of us we would have played at least 20 rounds each, which obviously meant that both parties were fairly buzzed.

Karan, the loud bystander was now feeling left out and Arjun offered to sit out for a while. I was now competing against a big, bulky and bearded monster!! And no, I wasn’t intimated at all. Karan seemed to be better than me at it and took me out during the first few rounds. I don’t know if it was because I was already pretty buzzed or he was just good at it. I kind of clawed my way back over the next couple of rounds, but by now I could feel my aim getting distorted (it was because of the beers) and I handed over the mantle to Arjun, who seemed to have now completely lost his mojo as Karan literally walked over him. A couple of rounds in, Arjun handed over the mantle to me and I managed to land some shots and make Karan down enough beer. This also shook Karan a bit who by now was feeling like he was the undisputed champion!!

All in All, we spent about 3 hours playing Beer Pong. Between the three of us, we would have downed at least 20 beers. In my 33 years of existence I have never had so many beers at such a fast pace and please note – I LOVE BEER! We were initially apprehensive about playing beer pong but it actually turned out to be one of the most fun evenings of our entire holiday. One of best mixers with alcohol is a competitive sport, and trust me there is no greater joy in taking one of your best buddies down  🙂

P.S- I’m planning a Beer Pong Party very soon. Do drop by  🙂

What A Ride !!!

Continuing from where I left off, this is the second in the list of stories during our holiday that contributed to creating an experience we would never forget. Actually make it the third. The second story was written, however not published.  It was shared with the people who traveled on the holiday and the main protagonist of that story felt that there are some stories which should not meet the public eye, hence I obliged. You never know, some day he changes his mind and I do get to publish the story and each one of you gets to read it. Till then enjoy this one  🙂

We spent the first three days of our holiday at Gili Islands, probably one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to. The combination of pristine blue waters and white sand just does something else to the human mind. I can go on and on about how pretty the place was and what a blast we had, but that’s not the story. The story is about the commute to and the commute back from Gili Islands. The most popular and widely used way is Speed Boats, and when I say Speed boats this is not your regular boat which houses two to three people, they are more like bigger boats that can accommodate about close to a 150 people. Tickets for these Speed Boats are also not cheap. The Private Operators that run these boats ensure that they end up making enough money. At the time you also don’t mind shelling the money out, because who would not pay to get to “Heaven on Earth”.

The journey to Gili Islands which takes about two hours was one of the best experiences of the holiday (at least for me). When we left Padang Bai, the port from which you depart it was pouring like crazy. This continued till we got on to the boat and kind of dampened our spirits. For the first half an hour of the journey we were sitting bundled up in the lower compartment of the speed boat looking at each other for some inspiration. A little later the rain stopped and the sun came out in all its glory. The staff on the boat came and told everyone that the upper deck is now open for everyone to sit and use. I was the first to move up and it was beyond beautiful- clear blue waters all around you, a sky that looked like God had painted it especially for you and the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere. Words cannot do justice to describe how surreal the setting was. The staff had some music on and there were beers on offer. Standing on the top deck of the boat with the wind in my hair (whatever little is left), admiring the breathtaking beauty of the ocean, appreciating and absorbing   everything around me was probably one of the most understated but best moments of the holiday for me. I really felt that If ever I had an opportunity to hold time to a standstill, this would be the moment.  In a brief while Karan and Arjun also joined in, disrupting my moment of solitude. We downed a few beers and before you know it we were at Gili Islands

Cut to three days later. We were now on our way back from Gili Islands to Padang Bai on a similar Speed Boat. Leaving from Gili Islands is never a good feeling. If I had my way, I would have probably never left.  We were also tired and fatigued as we had barely slept in the three days that we were there. So naturally neither of us were excited to make our way to the top deck. We made ourselves comfortable in the lower deck and surrendered to the air conditioning. Arjun was having something of a heat stroke and kept pouring water on his head, Karan was snoring –with his mouth open. About 30 minutes into the journey, the boat seemed to be going unusually fast and the ride started getting rather bumpy. At first it did not really seem alarming and we felt that it’s just probably a stretch of rough waters so we just ignored it. However the speed increased and the ride became even bumpier, so much so that there were moments where we were literally mid air and then the massive boat would plonk itself back into the rough waters. The fear was whether or not it would land safely and trust me many a times we felt that this was it, this time the boat would topple. Scary AF if you ask me! No one on the boat was sleeping now; everyone had their eyes wide open and looked a tinge worried. The staff came around and attempted to re-assure us that things were fine; they were also carrying puke bags which a lot of the passengers did end up using. The individual driving the boat was showing no signs of slowing down. The three of us tried to throw in some humor in our conversations to lighten the mood, but it was clear that deep down we were scared. We started discussing what we would do if things did go wrong. The best suggestion came from Arjun- “We use Karan as the floatation device”.  Looking around at other passengers, we could sense fear on every one’s face. With every bump and elevation of the surface of the boat we were unsure of whether we would land back safely. This ordeal lasted for about an hour.

We eventually made it safe and sound; Arjun claims to have used his superpowers. Although everything in the stomach felt like it had been put together in a blender and churned out at the highest speed.

Now I don’t know if such rough waters and a bumpy ride was normal and we over-reacted. But what I do know is that there was a sense of relief on everyone’s faces the moment the boat docked at Padang Bai. For us – it was like we were alive again. Alive enough to begin the next leg of our journey and with that will the next story. Till then, continue to ride the biggest wave of them all… “Life”  🙂


“How Three Became Two”

It’s now been a couple of months since I’ve come back from an absolutely epic holiday to Bali and Vietnam, which means that I have now safely dived into normal life, routine and just everything regular. It’s also now easier to write about it without missing it too much 🙂

Do note that this is not going to be a travel blog or your definitive guide when you visit these places. Instead what I will be sharing is stories, stories that contributed to creating an experience we would never forget

The temptation is there to start at the very beginning; however it’s over powered by the feeling of sharing probably the most interesting story of our holiday. The story of     “How three became two”.

I would urge anyone who plans to travel internationally in the near future to pay very close attention.

After spending 5 days in Bali we were all set to fly out to Vietnam.  Our flight was at some 0730 in the morning, which meant that we were supposed to be at the airport at about 0530. With me around that was never an issue :).  We reached the airport on time (before time actually). As expected there was not much chatter between the three of us at that time of the morning, the lack of sleep combined with the alcohol the previous night had a role to play. We were just about getting our bearings right

We were in line waiting to Check In, a pretty short and fast moving line. I went in first gave my passport and ticket, completed all formalities and got my boarding pass. Arjun followed and did the same.  There was some confusion as our Visa letter was not printed, but we managed to get away with a soft copy. Karan was next in line and the agent asked him for his passport and ticket, to which our man obliged. Only to realize that the passport that he handed over was in two pieces-the cover separate and the pages separate. The agent immediately handed his passport back to him and these were his exact lines “Sir I cannot allow you to travel, Your Passport is damaged.” The three of us looked at each other, typical Indian Mentality took over and we thought that this guy is acting difficult so we requested him to make a provision (jugaad) and went on to say things like “At least the passport is there”,  “It’s only the cover that has got detached” etc… None of it worked and this guy was adamant and told Karan once again –“Sir I cannot allow you to travel, Your Passport is damaged”. His supervisor then stepped in to explain to us that a damaged passport could mean that a page is torn or it could be a case like we had on our hands-the cover separate, the page separate, irrespective the Individual is not permitted to fly.

This is when shit got serious and we all looked at each other and in unison were like “WTF”. We thought to ourselves that there has to be a way out of this. Arjun approached the supervisor and asked him for a solution. The supervisor was very clear on the solution and mentioned that Karan would have to visit the Indian Consulate in Bali and they will issue him a letter or some document of that kind which would then allow him to fly. When we heard this, there was some sense of relief, because at least there was a solution. This now lead to a quick conference between the three of us .I’ll give you a peek into the discussion that happened during that short conference:

Karan: “You guys go ahead; I’ll manage and join you guys”

Arjun: “No buddy, we’ll stay with you and figure this shit out”

Kanav: “Yeah, we can fly out the next day”

Airline Supervisor: “For a different flight, I will be able to give your friend a discounted rate (Karan) , but not for the both of you”(Arjun and Me)

Kanav: “We also need to look at budget- money on rescheduling flights, hotels etc.. It is going to end up costing a lot”

Karan:  “You guys go ahead; I’ll manage and join you guys” (Face became smaller this time).

Anyway, we did not have much time to take this decision. With whatever processing power we had at that time in the morning,  the following decision was made – Karan would stay back in Bali, visit the Indian Consulate and get whatever documentation was needed to fly in to Vietnam, either the same day on a later flight or worst case scenario he could join us the next day. Arjun and I proceeded to take our flight to Vietnam.

We had a stopover at KL for a few hours. This is when we were expecting to hear from Karan. A couple of hours passed and there was no news from our man. We were beginning to get a little worried. Alas, Arjun’s phone rang and the conversation between the two continued for about ten minutes. It did not take a scientist to figure out what Karan was saying on the other end. Long story short – the only country Karan could fly back to was India, which meant that he was not joining us in Ho Chi Minh. The only saving grace was that he could hang around in Bali for a month (till the visa expired).

I guess it’s now clear , “How three became two”. Arjun and I spent the last five days of our holiday in Ho Chi Minh, while Karan spent it exploring Bali. We re-united at the KL airport on our way back to India and trust me when I say this; I have never seen a happier Karan in my life. His immediate reaction was – “Fuck, I can talk to someone” and he hurled out the choicest abuses to us in Hindi like he had never used them before.  A very critical component to understand here is that Karan is NOT a solo traveler; he detests it as much as I detest peanut butter and I hate peanut butter. Clearly those five days in Bali were not his best time, but I’ m sure he learnt and discovered something about himself.

Karan now has a fresh passport and plans to travel to Ho Chi Minh very soon. After all he needs to do justice to a tattoo that Arjun and he got done in Bali, a tattoo which has the flags of all the countries they have traveled to together. Among others, Vietnam is also inked on his arm. Little did we know…

We still don’t know how that happened to his Passport (actually I do know, but that’s something I’ll keep to myself J).

Should he have checked his passport earlier??

What could we have done differently??

Did we take the right decision to not stay back in Bali ?? (Believe me, we had no idea that he would not be allowed to fly anywhere else in the world but India)

These are all questions that one can reflect on and wonder how the outcome could have changed. But I guess this is how it was meant to play out and this is what was meant to happen. How else would I have shared this riveting story with you all  🙂

So next time you travel, take care of your Passport like it’s your baby, or dog , or cat (whichever one you love more)




“The Experience”

When I last wrote about “This Never Happened”, a lot of my friends spoke to me about “The Experience” and how in any field it was the only thing that mattered, the only thing that it all boiled down to.

I pondered over it I realized that all that I felt the same way. Whether I am out at a restaurant, visiting a night club, attending a music festival, at a store buying clothes etc.. the list could go on and on but essentially any interaction which has a user/customer/guest on one end and the product/service provider at the other end, what really makes or breaks the interaction is “The Experience”.

 I know this is not breaking news. In my early days as a Hospitality Trainer when I super specialized in Food & Beverage, I always told my trainees the exact same thing, the guest Is not paying 600 bucks for your sandwich because it tastes lip smackingly good (it could be ONE of the reasons) but it is most certainly not the only reason. I firmly believe that the day establishments realize that they are in the business of selling an experience and not a product or a service, there will be many more happier faces that they would be catering to.

When we talk about “The Experience” it is always the smaller things that matter. Most establishments get the bigger things right but the smaller ones- they are the ones that requires a little attention to detail.  Let’s re-visit the example that I shared in my last article about the mismanaged lines to get in to the venue.Creating an online portal to purchase the tickets was the easy part and one of the bigger things that they got right and honestly one would expect them to. However ensuring that those queues were managed effectively and efficiently so that everyone got in smoothly – that was the smaller thing that actually mattered more and in turn hampered the experience. When you read this you may think to yourself – “Isn’t that a given, shouldn’t have they known how many tickets were sold and hence how many people were going to be there and hence make provisions for the smooth entry of everyone”. Well Surprise Surprise, it did not happen and most of the times it does not happen, whether it be managing a queue, water being served at a restaurant without me asking for it or waiting half an hour to get the clothes billed because there are not enough cashiers.

Let’s take another example of a restaurant (my comfort zone :)) and talk about that Sandwich which costs 600 bucks. What’s going to make it worth my while, what’s going on to play on my senses?

What I see

Aesthetics– does the place appeal to me. Now I know this could differ from person to person but there are certain basics that one must get right. The colors, the furniture, the linen etc.. And it does not stop there, what I also see is what the staff is wearing (uniform), some of those Colour combinations and quality of uniforms, God save me!!

Grooming (how they wear it). Unironed clothes, dirty shoes, long dirty nails, Ugggg alert and someone tell them that those trousers can be worn above their knees!!!

Cleanliness-The general upkeep and cleanliness of the place is another thing that strikes me. I’ve walked into multiple restaurants with food on the floor, tables that haven’t been cleaned properly and dog eared menus. Oh and BTW menus that are not cleaned regularly have more bacteria and germs than the samosas you would have from a street vendor.

Smile-I’ve written earlier about smiling faces but once again if my server greets me with a smile, takes my order with a smile, serves me with a smile and sees me off with a smile, trust me more than half the battle is won there.

What I smell

I’ve walked into a couple of restaurants and baaaaam!! That smell…….turned the clock back to the visits to the fish market next to my erstwhile house at CR Park. Now this is not very difficult to get right, it’s just that I haven’t walked into a place in years and said “Wow that smells nice”. One would want a restaurant to smell of food, something that entices you and at the same time is not overpowering. Couple of Cafe’s do get it right though with the smell of ground coffee or freshly baked bread and have also managed to make it their signature fragrance. There are also the tried and tested diffusers that work pretty well, but then again the choice of fragrance matters. One would not want a restaurant to smell of lavender!

What I hear

Music-This tends to be an ignored area in most restaurants. Most of the times you would have some ambient instrumental music playing on loop. I remember when I used to manage an award winning Indian Restaurant close to 10 years back, we had one and only one Brian Silas CD with evergreen Hindi classics played on the piano. One month in and I knew exactly what song would play at what time:). Some restaurants truly make an effort-I personally know a couple of cafe and restaurant owners who painstakingly make Playlists that they even refresh every month or so. The “Worldspace” kind of concepts made their presence felt but never really took off. One hears that technology today can sense the mood of the people seated in the restaurant and play music accordingly (not at all surprising).

Communication-It also has a lot to do with how my server communicates with me. Is he able to tell me what cheese goes into my sandwich (menu knowledge), does he have basic courtesy and use the right kind of words (May I, Thank you, Certainly) and also not say “piza”.


A friendly visit to my table by the manager of the restaurant would really help as well. Honestly I don’t understand or know what they do anymore. At most restaurants the only time I’ve seen the manager is when there is a complaint, otherwise the crop of managers these days don’t find it worth their time to visit a normal table. Initially  as a restaurant manager I also felt that being present in the restaurant, taking a round of the restaurant (more like aimless gallivanting), looking busy but doing nothing was what my job entailed. It was only over a period of time that I understand my “real” job and realised that I was the captain of the ship and where this ship went was completely dependent on me-I could let it go ahead hit that iceberg and sit back and enjoy the show or I could ensure that in the first place it was never heading towards the iceberg. Proactive behavior is the key word here- A reactive restaurant manager is now a stale commodity and very soon nearing their expiry date.

All of the above contributes to “What I feel”. The feeling that I walk out of that place with-happy, sad, upset, angry, elated, satisfied, delighted.  “What I feel” dictates “The Experience” when I walk out of that place. It helps me decide whether I will visit that place again, it helps me decide whether this was an experience to remember or forget.

So does it matter how that sandwich tastes-of course it does, but as you just read, it is ONE(of the many) factors that will contribute to What I Feel and in turn to “The Experience”

P.S: If I ever do open a place, I am now very clear as to what I would call it 🙂. No prizes for guessing though!

Kanav Mata

Ex-Restaurateur, Hotelier, Hospitality Professional

Current-L&D Consulting