Wednesday, July 08, 2009

An Example Set By KFC

A few days back, I witnessed an incident that made me want to write again (and between you and me, that means quite a thing – since these days I feel too lazy to wield the pen!) and here I am, relating it to you.

My mom and I had some errands to run, and in between working them out, we stopped at KFC, City Center for a snack. We ordered our usual and sat around for some time. When we were just about to leave, I noticed we had some unused ketchup sachets. I waved to the nearest person, and handed them over, saying we didn’t need them. The person didn’t quite understand my words and was about to tear the sachets open, evidently under the impression that we couldn’t get it open and wanted his help. I immediately stopped him and repeated my words – but to my extreme surprise, the guy indicated that his hearing and speech were impaired. After that, I had to gesture to him that we didn’t need the condiments, and he could take it away, and he did.

My mom and I stared after him, our hearts filled with admiration and hope. So far, we had never come across a restaurant which employed such people. We couldn’t resist appreciating the effort to the restaurant manager. He told us that the guy was in charge of managing the stock, clearing away used trays, etc. He also informed us that as a policy, in almost all KFC outlets, physically challenged persons are employed in an effort to let them lead a normal life. I was too impressed for words. And then, I resolved to write about it.

What we witnessed that day wasn’t an Indian act. We Indians, and I will not mince my words here, don’t have the guts or backbone to take such a step. But KFC is truly American in its ways, and what they are doing is something that only an American / European establishment would dare to do. This may hurt the sentiments of many a conscientious Indian, but that really will not change the facts.

I would truly love to claim, as an Indian, that Indian establishments are equally gutsy – but the fact is that we have never, ever come across any such efforts on the part of any of the high flying indigenous restaurants. They want physically fit persons to serve them, because, of course, they are worried that a person who is unable to hear or speak will piss the customers off, and that in turn would reduce their profits. A good many of them also think that such people would be of no use to the establishment. And hence, the typical Indian glam restaurant will only hire the glam girls and hunky chaps, and not even spare a glance towards the less fortunate.

Honestly, I am concerned. We Indians, while claiming to be the best in Heaven-Knows-What, actually do nothing about taking a step towards real progress. We want “equality” in everything, and yet we don’t ever really do what is required to bring about true equality. We scream for opportunities to be given to the less fortunate, and when the opportunity is really given, we scream about how inefficient the less fortunate are. We forget that that is why they are less fortunate. We forget all about equality and opportunities. We become downright selfish.

And then we say our culture has no place for vices like selfishness!