January 9, 2015 – Set out on an impulse to visit Vibrant Gujarat. Impulse became the throbbing pulse of excitement in exploring new land, its people and culture, and to know what makes it tick with the local, national, as well as international links.
I set out with immense curiosity to know Gujarat, eager to learn what makes the state flourish, urge to explore the clichéd Gujarati business acumen, to know what makes that almost legendary Gujju business acumen tick.
Vibrant Gujarat venue was an overwhelming experience with its enormity as well as range of companies that had set up shop to sell or buy, to find customers or attract investors. The mind boggling range of products from agriculture, ayurveda to food processing, from petrochemical industries to hi-tech companies, there seemed all and everything that mattered in the business world had a presence there that day.
Finding it difficult to find a proper (read calmer and peaceful) restaurant to have lunch within the Vibrant venue, my Savari driver took me to a restaurant. Honest Restaurant! The name of the restaurant came rushing to me but my hungry stomach did not allow me to even give another glance at it then.
Settling at a table I ordered peas pulav and a customary large tumbler of lassi. The waiter brought along a bottle of water too. I savored my food while I ignored the bottled water. Traveling brings enough of complementary bottled water, be it in airlines, hotel you stay in, or the cab you ride. I simply felt I could use the one I was already carrying in the cab I had hired. Once my hunger pangs were satiated and the soothing lassi, I paid the bill and left.
As I climbed the cab and was about to start away, the guy who waited at my table came running, with a bottle of water in his hand. He was waving the bottle at me. A bit taken aback, I stopped our cab and asked if anything was amiss. The waiter thrust the bottled water at me saying “Sirji, yeh bothul aap ki hain.” (this bottle is yours)
“Nahin bhai, maine usse paani nahi piya.” (No, I did not drink the water from the bottle)
“Nahin saab, yeh aap ke hain, aap iske paise diye hain” (No sir, this is yours, you have already paid for it).
“Nahi, nahi, maine paani nahi maanga, yeh mera nahin” (No, no, I did not ask for the water, That is not mine)
This went on for three four times. And the guy said, “uske paise aap diye hain, yeh bothul aapka hain” and simply thrust the bottle into my hand.I then noticed the bill I had paid had included the bottled water. I realized that the hotel had presumed I would need water and simply added to my bill whether I had requested or not. And they were not willing to keep the already paid bottle. It was entirely the customer’s now! Bemused I examined the bottle that got put into my hand and the name on it “Honest Drinking Water” and almost fell out of my cab laughing.
Riding back, I kept mulling over the incident. Honest to the core, the hotel had made sure they stood for their name. But, I had never even asked for water, which was just ensured that I had bought it, without realizing it. It was one smooth selling, and even if I had checked my bill before paying I am sure there would have been an argument that water is given whether you wanted it or not. There was certainly a tinge of honesty, they had not kept the bottle to sell it to another customer!