Friday, July 9, 2010

Five Star Buffalo Milk !

By Manuwant Choudhary

The best stories are not those which you look for and find but those that are just told by someone you have just met.

Like I met Abhimanyu Kayastha, a Nepalese working in Bangalore. Abhimanyu studied at Goethals at Darjeeling and did a hotel management course from New Delhi before joining the Oberoi Group. He worked at the Soaltee Oberoi, Kathmandu, for many years. Soaltee was owned by the now dethroned monarch Gyananendra.

Abhimanyu in that sense is a King's Man.

Yet, when i say that I am wrong. Abhimanyu respects the institution of manarchy but like a fiercely loyal Nepalese he does not tolerate corruption and yet I could sense a sadness at how events have turned out in Nepal.

"You know I have even been in politics but I got out because its so corrupt. I wanted to build a cycle stand at Dharan and some businessmen donated bags of cement but when they arrived at the site I found a few bags missing ! They were stolen on the way by those entrusted to bring them."

Is this then the story of Nepal? A country so steeped in corruption, so steeped in poverty and so steeped in debt.that even the Maoist Prachanda imports an expensive Chinese bed to sleep on.

But Abhimanyu knows poverty since he comes from a rural background. His father was a farmer and so he knows the importance of growing one's own food and how every year the problems in rural Nepal multiply..while food supplies dwindle.

He said, "You know whenever I am asked to speak to young hotel recruits I ask them the difference between aata and maida and you know not one can answer me..It worries me.."

Abhimanyu's father spent his precious resources to give his son the best boarding school education but Abhimanyu was like other Nepalese boys not knowing what to do in life until one day his father called him "Are you a Man Abhimanyu?"

Abhimanyu, "yes, I am."

Father, "Let me see. Take this (giving him a third class railway ticket)..I want you to go to Bangalore and only call me when you get admisions at a college there..."

That train ticket changed his life.

Abhimanyu experienced life like very few Nepalese..always serving...always respectful...and always concerned.

He served Kings and commoners alike..never being swerved by personal or social prejudices. King Gyanendra, Paras...Manisha Koirala...and why even our own Laloo Prasad Yadav.

Abhimanyu worked at the Ashoka Hotel in Bangalore (the hotel owned by Lalit Suri) when Laloo came calling there..

"I went to Lalooji's room and asked him what he would like for breakfast."

Lalooji replied, "Main Cornflakes Khaoonga."

Abhimanyu then served Laloo some cornflakes but as he poured the milk into the bowl Laloo observed, "Yeh to gai ka doodh hai..main to sirf Bhains ka dhoodh peeta hoon ....(This is Cows Milk..I only drink Buffalo Milk). Aapke paas bhains ka doodh hai kya? Do you serve buffalo milk?"

Abhimanyu replied, "yes sir."

Abhimanyu, "You know what I did. 5 star hotels dont have Buffalo Milk but what we do have in our kitckens is I added some extra cream to the cows milk and whipped it up and brought it to Lalooji. As I poured a thicker milk into the cornflakes Lalooji exclaimed, "Wah, maan gaye yeh Lalitji (owner of Ashoka Hotel) bhee ajeeb cheez hai..bhains ka dooh bhee rakhta hai! (This Lalitji is so amazing he even keeps buffalo milk in his hotels!).

Nepal and Bihar share a large common border..our problems are similar too and so are our politicians and as Abhimanyu expressed concern at how Nepal can be saved I wondered why others in Nepal are not doing anything.

As Laloo brings Bihar to a standstill against the fuel price hike..while Bihar doctors have their salary stopped by some bureaucrat because they have failed to spend 33 crore rupees allocated for the polio program. A doctor said, "Should we just spend that money and then go to jail?" I wonder how both Nepal and Bihar are difficult regions in every way.

Todays Times of India has an interesting quote in its Sacred Space by Lewis Grizzard, "The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity."

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