The saga of the super KEY

key

The Waterfront Hotel Viceroy, now the Hyderabad Marriot, is frquented by many corporate and leisure guests. With the serene Husain Sagar Lake as the backdrop, the hotel’s business has been uplifted to greater heights. The lake-facing rooms are sold at a premium owing to the enchanting view. The hazy yet scintillating city outline works as a perfect ambiance for the guests. Gaiety, the Bidri-speciality restaurant with its magnificent view couldn’t be better – a cuisine to die for, smart staff and a Greek God of a manager in Rajnish Vaidya. Patrons are at immediate ease with the young, charming and ever-smiling manager. He is the key to increase in guest satisfaction index. This was one outlet, from a total of twenty, that I didn’t have to worry too much about. All izz well.

He was also full of ideas. At one of our meetings, he suggested that that we have a cuisine caravan fest this month where there would be an interactive chef counter. So, at the October fest, we had a counter where live Bidri Kebabs and Katcha Gosht were made in front of the guests. It indeed was a runaway hit. What’s more, the chef’s friendly percussion of cookery tips caught everyone’s attention. It was a pleasure to keep the pace with this energetic man. I knew instantly that this man would go places.

Now that Rajnish had settled in, he wanted to bring his wife from Pune. “Sir I need a few days to organise my family accommodation and bring my wife from Pune. My bachelors room is fine for now but its too far and I can’t really go during the afternoon break,” he said. I agreed but requested him to plan his leave and a fine replacement as the restaurant is extremely busy. After a while, the thought of him in uniform for 16 hours a day was somehow interfering with my paper work that afternoon.

The F&B team always took a substantial amount of space in the executive locker room. Although the camaraderie of all the outlet managers was positively infectious, it got quite noisy during the break. And, everyone wanted to have a chat with their manager as he had a very pleasing personality. So, poor Rajnish was never allowed to have his forty winks during the break. I always made it a point to change in the locker room, even though my company apartment was just two minutes down the road. I felt that this helped me connect well with my team.

I was concerned that he was not getting enough rest and he was ending up groggy eyed by the evening session. Dinner ended by 2 am everyday which meant he was not getting his 6-8 hours of sleep. “Why don’t you use my flat? It’s empty during that time, my family lives in Bangalore as you know,” I told him.

“That’s very kind of you sir. I am blessed to have a boss like you. But I wouldn’t dream of troubling you. I am quite alright on this bunker bed,” said Rajnish. But I persisted and handed over the key of 204, Sai Apartments. I reuqested him to ask the hotel driver to take him to the apartment and to enjoy a blissful sleep henceforth. He reluctantly took the key and thanked me profusely for this gesture.
Sai Apartments is quite cozy, centrally located yet tucked away in a serene enclave with all the facilities. I hardly spent any time here except for a good nights sleep. The one odd time I was around the building, I came across my neighbours from 203, Mrs. Archee and Mr. Sanjay. While he always seemed a bit aloof, the lady was very warm and friendly.

She came up to me one day and said, “Sir, you are always in the hotel, enjoying exotic food and meeting interesting people”. My regular reply to this would have been, “Thank you so much, but I eat salads / dal and roti most of the time. We hoteliers aren’t rich but would end up with millionaire’s diseases if we are not careful.” But since she was a friendly and helpful person, I just laughed it off. She used to collect my milk, laundry etc… whenever possible. Archee was quite popular in the apartment and had several friends.

When Inspector Shinde met me at the station he said, “Mr. Venu, Thank your stars that I have been to Bidri restaurant before and know your manager well. Otherwise, he would have gotten into serious trouble today. I remember him very well as he was always very courteous and would ensure that my meal was perfect. There was so much commotion at the apartment today after he managed to get into your neighbours apartment with the wrong key. But I can’t really can’t blame the lady for creating a scene on seeing a stranger in her apartment. The whole situation was actually quite hilarious”. He guffawed. On one hand, I was relieved and on the other I was curious to know what had happened.

One afternoon when I was in a meeting with my boss Aijaz Ali, my secretary came in quickly and said, “Sir, Rajnish has been taken to the police station. Inspector Shinde just called and said that he wants you there urgently. It seems that Rajnish misbehaved with your neighbour Mrs. Archee.” I just froze for a minute.

When Inspector Shinde met me at the station he said, “Mr. Venu, Thank your stars that I have been to Bidri restaurant before and know your manager well. Otherwise, he would have gotten into serious trouble today. I remember him very well as he was always very courteous and would ensure that my meal was perfect. There was so much commotion at the apartment today after he managed to get into your neighbours apartment with the wrong key. But I can’t really can’t blame the lady for creating a scene on seeing a stranger in her apartment. The whole situation was actually quite hilarious”. He guffawed. On one hand, I was relieved and on the other I was curious to know what had happened.

“You can go ahead and talk to your manager,” He said. I found him sitting on the bench at the far end of the office, with a forlon look on his face. This is the first time I saw him without a smile and hands on the head. He was sweating profusely.

When I went towards him in absolute shock, he narrated the entire incident. “Sir, I can’t believe it myself. I used the key you gave me to open apartment no 203 and it opened so I simply went in, made myself comfortable and settled on the sofa to watch TV. I kicked off the shoes in anticipation of a good snooze. Mrs Archee, whom I had never met, entered and kept her key on the table and then looked at me. She froze for a minute and then screamed her guts out. I got up and asked her who she was and what was she doing at Mr Venu’s apartment. She said that it was her own apartment and directed me to some family pictures on the wall. I looked around and then realised that I was the one in the wrong apartment. My head was spinning and by the time I gathered my thoughts, she stealthily stepped out and locked me in. She alerted all the neighbouts in no time. All of them started gathering aroud the house; many of them looking menacingly from the window. Must be a rapist; call the police someone advised. All my frantic signs and broken Telugu went unheeded. They summoned Inspector Shinde which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He knew me well as he was such a regular guest at Gaiety and instantly doled me out. God! I shudder to think what would have been the outcome, if someone else had come. I am surprised that the commissioner himself didn’t come, going by the strength of the lady’s vocal cords. This was my first experience with the great lung power of beautiful girls in Hyderabad.”

Venu Rao
Director Peacock Hospitality.
www.peacockhospitality.com

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