If you forget to place that napkin on your knee, so be it.

Bikram Vohra
Filed on January 3, 2020
If you forget to place that napkin on your knee, so be it.

Bikram Vohra talks about dealing with hoity-toity hotels, formal dinners and the rich man's lives

I went to an upmarket shoppe the other day (note spelling, please) and the shopping assistant followed me around as if I had 'suspect' written on my back. Suspect, I do not know but suspicious, yes; happens to me right across the world. Airports (the chosen one for random check),  clubs (excuse me, members only), hoity-toity hotels where they look at me dubiously like, 'You must have lost your way, shouldn't you be elsewhere, Sirrrrr.'

Have you ever walked into a swanky shop and felt so out of it that you closed in your shoulders so you don't break something so expensive you couldn't afford the damages and shoved your hands deep into your pocket and slunk around the place feeling shabby and so much into esteem shortfall you dare not touch anything. And that horrible sensation that the shop assistants exchanging raised eyebrows as if to say, what's our clientele coming to, if such riff raff come in?

Like those upmarket car showrooms. You walk into one and nothing happens. The attendants do not even stir. They know you are gawking, not buying. You do not have that look about you, even if you have the money, not that I do. I once had an attendant tell me I could not afford it. The fact that he was right is besides the point.

I think some of us send out vibes that confirm we are not ritzy enough. Take me to a restaurant and the waiters literally toss to be at your table. They just know you are going to share and buy the cheapest dish and no dessert. Some of us float into the esoteric mmmm, I will have escargot followed by scallops in melted butter. How do you confess you have no idea what a scallop is? And did you know you don't bite into a petit four, you eat it whole, if you know what it is. Go on then, what is it?

Same thing when you drive up to a super-snobby 'over the top' hotel in your 1.4 litre toy car with three dents and they say, 'Welcome, Sir', but the Sir is slurred and you know they'd be a lot smarter in the salute if it was a Jag or a Bentley and the valets disappear or keep passing the buck (keys) to each other.

Have you ever sat at a snazzy dinners where 'formal' means an arsenal of cutlery and you are looking at these six glasses at your setting and you know they (whoever they are) know you are not to the manor born because you slurp your soup and don't care if you use the edge of the knife to stand in for a spoon and the heck with the butter knife.

Ever been to the main branch of your bank, an expensive hospital, a corporate headquarters and immediately there is that lack of courtesy, concealed but there and it isn't a complex in you, it's just there. you don't belong.

And you enter a home that is more like a museum and you think, migoodness, do people live like this because the fittings in one corner of one room would cost more than your annual salary and everything is so perfect you wonder if they just opened it to the public and the moment you go they'll close it because it is totally unlived in.

I once went to a bathroom in a home and it was larger than my bedroom and they had a gallon bottle of eau de toilette and my favourite brand at that. And arranged on a sort of a $10,000 credenza were 26 bottles of perfume and cologne and hand wash and I thought of my sad little collection of miniatures snagged from various hotels and little slivers of soap, which, for some reason, many of us swipe but never use. If you took them, use them, right, but no, I even have bottles from 2010.
Imagine a nightmare in which you get invited to a billionaire's yacht by some clerical error and the men and women look actually sculpted like in the ads, all tanned and granite-jawed and they talk rich and privileged and you wonder what the hell am I doing here, I don't belong.

And you know what, who cares, park your car in the porch, fling away the cutlery and if you forget to place that stupid napkin on your knee, so be it. let it go.
bikram@khaleejtimes.com


 
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