Let me begin by saying that our education system is just slightly better than the one in South Sudan. If the guidance we get was analogous to the guidance an intercontinental missile gets, the missile if fired from Dadar would detonate in, well, Dadar East. It is appalling to know that in India, 60% employees are dissatisfied with their jobs and 80% of them want to switch careers. This insinuates that our guidance systems are very weak, and the youth is entering professions they don’t know a thing about.
I want to give an example of the same by presenting exactly how I went through indecision, and quit my job after working for 2 months.
I remember, before I did Hotel Management, ordering in restaurants would be a very intriguing task because I would be absolutely amazed at how a pizza, which would take me 2 hours, 3 limbs and the fire brigade to make at home, came onto my table in under 20 minutes, crisp and much better than the Domino’s vegetables on naan that I was used to. I imagined the chefs, smoking cigars, with abs showing through chef coats as white as flour, cooking with their bare hands and working with sparkling ingredients picked by women in lingerie (??). Having pictured myself as the Dan Bilzerian of kitchens, I firmly went up to my family and informed them that I would be pursuing Hotel Management from the best college in the world, to which they promptly replied, “O Bhai paani ubaal ley pehley dhang sey. Gas on karney mein naani marti hai.” So I decided to pursue architecture and started dreaming about me smoking a cigar, with a yellow construction cap on my head (apparently architects and dehaadi are the same thing), with my abs showing through my whatever-architects-wear, and strippers helping me put cement on walls(???). It was only when I spoke with a leading architect in Singapore that I realized that it takes a lot of mathematics dedication to become an architect, the kind I knew I wouldn’t be able to conjure. This made me revert back to the original idea of becoming a chef. I had already seen a lot of episodes of Master Chef and I had perfected me Oh-Straiee-Lee-Uhn accent m8, so I thought, “ah well let me decide my career BASED JUST ON HOW A TV SHOW APPEALED TO ME”. (I thanked the stars I wasn’t into Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata hai). And so I went for it. I gave my JEE, made a chutiya out of everyone by telling them I got AIR 269 in JEE, casually forgetting to mention that I was referring to the Hotel Management exam. Anyway ,so they thought I was totally getting into IIT. I did actually get perhaps the best college for hotel management in India and the dream was coming true. I expected to be given a chef coat by the guard at the gate, a red carpet ceremony with the air smelling of cinnamon and caramel, and an array of knives sharp enough to cut a diamond. What actually happened was, that I was late to my first ever college lecture and was asked to “Fuck off saaley” by the Chef. I was left astounded because I expected the professor to reprimand me in a cultured fashion and profanity was the least expected thing in my head. I took some time to process this and waited for my next lecture.
The first year went by, and I had slowly begun to realize what a carrot looks like. My maid had better knife skills, and I was now getting excited every time the Chef would abuse me because the sheer thrill of voluntarily accepting abuse was insane.
Our second year of college consisted of training in a hotel for 6 months, just to give us an idea of what to expect from our future jobs as hoteliers. Sitting for training interviews was quite scary because this was my first interaction with anyone from an actual Hotel. They seemed so polished, wearing crisp suits, the lady with her make up on point and her hair cut by Javed Habib himself. The interview lasted for a few minutes and I realized that apparently my hobbies were “f-f-f-o-otball”, “the playing the games on the computer” and “Dets it medum”. I was very nervous, but most of us were selected. I was selected for a very prestigious hotel located in the more posh part of Mumbai. I will not name the hotel because I do not want the administration of The Taj Mahal Palace, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai to get after my life.
We began with the induction process for a week, where I made quite a few friends and drank atleast 2-3 cups of tea every 3 seconds. Life seemed wonderful. “Really? This was what it felt like to be a hotelier? This is the most relaxing job and I am exceedingly happy with my career decision.” What seemed to make me so happy was actually Life pulling its shorts down to take a shit on the center of my forehead.
My first department was in the service part of hotels, and I was assigned to a restaurant. As I walked to the employee entrance, I remember thinking to myself, “oh so much to learn. If I make mistakes I will be forgiven because I am a newbie”. So yeah that didn’t happen. My very first day, I put a piece of bacon in my mouth and entered the guest area, chewing like a dog on the piece of meat, when the restaurant manager saw me and blasted me to Timbuktu. It was extremely tough, the work was arduous and the timings were odd but doable. As I went through my training, having spent a month in each of the four core departments, it was time to choose one, and I chose strippers picking vegetables for me(????????). I would only realize later that I was, in fact, the Stripper.
Our third and final year of college began, and I had already improved my knife skills ten folds during my training. I had failed an exam in my second year, which happened to be the kitchen practical exam. I remember feeling constant doubt in my head if I would actually be able to go through with my decision of being a chef. My friends would call me “vazakhai thoran”, a certain dish I was not able to prepare during the exam in which I failed :)))))). So much so, that when they didn’t call me VT, I’d be a little taken aback and teary eyed. So yeah my friends loved me a lot. Anyway, time flew by and it was time for campus recruitment processes to begin. I had just one goal in my head, which was the Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development. Regarded as the MBA of Hospitality, it was something I was sure I could crack. I began learning technical terms, improved my knowledge, and reached the final round where, due to my own mistakes, I was eliminated. I was heartbroken. Although it took one peck on the cheek from my girlfriend and a mouthful of a burger, I knew I had to work somewhere before re-applying for next year’s selection process.
I began working for what is regarded as the best hotel in the world, in a small town in Rajasthan. It was an opportunity of a life time for me, and a direct route to OCLD. The plan was set, and I had put it in motion. The city itself was a lot slower than Mumbai, and it took some time to adjust to haggling for the auto fares in the city. The first week alone was miserable, with the auto guys looking at my SoBo Aao-Sab-Mera-Chutiya-Banao face, and quoting 100 bucks for a 3 minute distance. I obliged. The following weeks were better as I learnt routes and approximate costs. My mother had settled me in a fantastic PG, with a second hand washing machine, cooler and fridge and life seemed fantastic.
Narrator: But it was all about to change.
A day in my week began at 4:30 AM, and by 5:00 AM, when even the birds on trees were like “Bhai jhanna gaya hai kya. BC hum bhi so rahey hain abhi takk aur tu already chal diya?”, I was out of the house and on my way. I was responsible for the morning set-up of the kitchen and the mis-en-place( French term which basically translates to placement and organization of ingredients prior to service. This is also why food in restaurants takes 15 minutes and not an hour to prepare.)
During work, my rapport with the Chefs began to improve as we got to know each other better and I began to learn more and more. Over the weeks, I developed cute nicknames such as “Chodu Ram Mumbai Waley”, “Chutiyo key raja”, “OCLD Final round” and my personal favorite “Townie Fucker”. I remember preparing close to 8 orders in 20 minutes, as order slips kept piling up on the pass. Days used to be so busy, that chefs from other sections would come to assist us with orders. As I learnt more, my responsibilities grew, and so did my confidence. For those not from a hotel background, it is understood that F&B and Kitchen work on less than cordial terms. The occasional, “oye service key bhosdi wale” and “oye chodu IRD order uthayega ya firr scooter pey guest key ghar ley jau” were a comic relief. A particular incident still fills me up with pride wherein a Service employee accused me by saying “Abey Chutiye fries soggy kyu diya hai”, to which I responded “abbey haan woh gaand mein daala thaa na toh soggy hogaya”. The sheer frustration and the exhilaration that comes with the job makes Chefs some of the most hilarious people to work with. As rude as they may have been, there was not one chef in the kitchen who didn’t go out of their way to teach me. They had all started to become like my family.
But all was not going well on my end. I was hardly getting ample sleep, the working hours were too long, and my body was resisting such a grueling regime. It was then that I realized that I am not cut out for a profession as physically demanding as this. Executives persuaded me to stay, but it just didn’t happen for me. So I quit.
What I want to get across to whoever is reading is this:
- If you’re considering doing Hotel Management or a future in kitchens, know this:
I have worked for 9 hours, and I have also worked for 18 hours. There have been times where I have considered placing a mattress under the kitchen sink and sleeping in the hotel. I have worked for a week on 4 hours of sleep, almost slept off while frying kebabs at work. There is no social life, there are no weekends, no holidays. The work is physically very demanding, and the environment involves very high pressure. If you’re in it for the money, there is hardly any (not in the first 3-4 years anyway).
- It is NEVER too late to get out of what you feel you’re not cut out for. The faster you get out, the faster you can explore options more suitable. It’s not like if you quit your job, people will question. Let me put it this way
Myth: “Oho yeh toh wahi hai na jisney apni job chodd dee.”, “yahee hai na woh kapoot jisney job chodkey muh kaala kiya?Maaro bhenchod ko”, “arre iska toh fuck hogaya na? ghar pey baithega ab chudiya pehen key ahahaha so funny”.
Reality: “oh you quit your job because of xyz reason? must be tough.”
Remember, people may not support you and may advise you against it. But if you go to work every day dreading every single minute you’ll have to spend there, as my mother says every time I ask her for pocket money, “get the fuck out”.
- If you’re a parent reading this (I doubt it because with stuff like “Chodu Ram” after every two sentences, my target audience automatically becomes teenagers and new adults), please do not live through your kids. I know officially anyone above 18 is an adult, but the truth is that your child needs your guidance his/her entire life. I know you’re ambitious, I know you want your kid to buy you an Audi in the next 5 years, but he/she won’t be able to afford a Hot Wheels Audi also if they get fired from a job they didn’t even like. Please don’t call them names and imply they do not have the caliber to be extraordinary at what they do because even though half the kids these days are dumb and extremely ordinary, the other half continually dreams of that Audi for you. Your child is more ambitious than you think. It’s high time we realize that.