Saturday, July 18, 2009

the friendly 'hotelwallah'

kamats are well known in mumbai.for their restaurants which serve idlis,dosas,vadas and other delectable south indian snacks at moderate prices.their cafes are neat and clean and very functional.when i first came to mumbai fifty years ago upon my father's transfer,my first visit to a udipi joint was near sir p m road in fort area where we lived.i liked the taste of the masala dosa and filter coffee and spent many memorable hours there during my first year in mumbai then called bombay.

in those days,television had not arrived.we followed the cricket test matches on the radio.after returning from st.xavier's college,i would rush to the 'udipi',order some vadas and idlis and hot south indian coffee and listen to the cricket commentary.there was always a huge crowd outside;they were the cricket fans who preferred to stand out and cheer loudly when some indian cricketer scored a boundary or a six.there would also be a deafening silence when team india lost a wicket. later we moved to backbay reclamation near churchgate. this time my favourite was 'satkar', another udipi mcdonalds in usa, kamats and other udipi restaurants have built a loyal clientale around them thanks to their quick and efficient service,neat and functional ambience and consistently good food and importantly reasonble rates.the udipiites are an intelligent and industrious father was very close to the tma pai family,the founders of the syndicate bank.i realised quite early in age that they are very shrewd businessmen and no wonder that they have excelled in banking and finance and in the hospitality industry too.

last monday when i was on a flight to bhubaneshwar,i happened to meet v v kamat,the pioneer of ecotel hotels in india. i had met him earlier once in a similar situation.we recognised each other and exchanged some pleasantries.we also exchanged our business cards and expressed our desire to remain in the back of his card in a small pouch lay some tulsi(holy basil) seeds.that conveys his care for the environment. kamat is a very modest,self-effacing,kind and helpful man. he is proud of his creation of the 'orchid' chain of hotels and rightly who had the chutzpah to tell the chairman of the oberoi group of hotels that one day he would excel them.that needs tremendous self-confidence,courage and an ability to lead,motivate and see things through.

when i returned to mumbai,there was a pleasant surprise awaiting me in my was a nice letter from v v kamat's office enclosing the book(seventh edition) he has written which i am currently reading. the book is titled-'idli,orchid and will-power!', translated from the original by sanjit narwekar. it's a book by a self-made man,his trials and tribulations,the support from his parents and his better half,the sibling rivalry that took him very close to committing suicide. surely i'll come across many more such anecdotes in his interesting book written in a simple and breezy style.

we see environmental degradation all around.we need many more kamats to make people sensitive to nature and not to treat it with disrespect.what you give you will get back.if you preserve and protect the environment,the globe will be a better place to live in. then the efforts of people like v v kamat and his ilk will not go in vain. we owe this to the coming generations.


A Virtual Vegetarian said...

How wonderful....I'm sure the book is a wonderful read.

gs said...

hi avv
it's more wonderful to see you back. i have been missing your comments for a long time now.i have some very interesting topics to blog on which i know you would love to read.i hope to complete reading the book by tomorrow and then i'll post a review and send a copy to vvk.
how's your dad? i hope he is much better now. do you have any plans of coming to india with hubby and son? would love to see you all.
best wishes.

mannab said...

hi gs!
I had the opportunity to read the original book written by Shri.Vithal Kamat as "Idli, Orchid aani Me" in Marathi. By now this book may have double digit numbar editions which is itself a rare occasion. Hats off to this enterprenuer of India and his Idlees!
I would like to know whether Shri Vithal kamat has some blog site. Pl let me know if you have idea. Mangesh Nabar

gs said...

hello mannab
i am not sure whether vithal kamath maintains a blog.but he has a website www.orchidhotel.comyou can get more info about him and his hotels from there.