A few days back I got a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to visit one of the luxurious and star-rated hotels of Raipur, Chattissgarh, India. The hotel was located on the V I P Road (Airport road), Raipur. We were five in number and had gone there with some project assigned by our company. On seeing the hotel, our eyes got amazed and filled with ecstatic wonder as the entire hotel was a marvel in itself. Either be its front or its interior, everything we saw there was exotically carved out as some king is living there. Be its fabulous entrance or its lavish bar or its physical fitness centre or its banquet hall, everything was charming and fantabulous in nature. Time seemed to have stopped there as we felt we had been transcended into other some paradisical world.

High-end gentry and posh 3 people were checking in and checking out like anything. They were intoxicated and visibly rasped, not only in their own highness but also with the lavish and extravagant hospitality of the hotel- the grand symbol of the A-list people of the area. We did an in-depth survey of the entire hotel, from top to down and from right to left and whatever we found; it got wholly and unfailingly etched into the deep chambers of our minds.
And they were the lower level staff only- waiters, commies, foremen, sweepers, room cleaners, laundry men, electricians, security guards, maids etc- on whose grand shoulders the entire hotel stood and was successfully operating day in and day out. I think without them on regular duty, the whole functioning of the hotel would come to regretfully stand still.

Without waiters or stewards at the timely service of their assigned guests in a hotel, who is going to look after the needs and the requirements of the guests? Without commis as assistants in the kitchen department, who is going to help the chef in a hotel? In case of electricity failure, who would look after the problem as the whole hotel would be in dark? Let us suppose for a moment- sweepers or maids have stopped coming into a hotel, would anyone love to visit that stinking and putrid property? It is only these lower level staffs who, according to me, are the backbone and the nerve centre of the hotel industry. This doesn’t mean that other staff members are purposeless and inefficacious, as you must have already pointed out in your minds, but what I really wanted to bring out is that- some respect and honor must also be given duly to these background heroes of a hotel industry anywhere around the world. They are the great but gravely neglected pillars on whose patient and strong shoulders the entire hotel industry generates such huge revenue.

But our eyes really got aghast and stunned when we made a first-hand ocular observation of the gross discrimination with the lower level staff in the basement of this grand hotel of Raipur. What we practically saw there opened the windows of our minds to one of the worst kind of astounding disillusionment towards the lavish and enchanting façade of the highly-grossing-revenue-generating hotel industry. The way leading to the Cafeteria- meant exclusively for the lower level staff- was stinking as bad as one could easily feel to retch anytime. The staff above the lower level or the medium level staff had their separate EDR (Executive Dining Room) and this was located just few seconds before the Cafeteria. The higher level staff had the full liberty to have their meals either in their own cabins or in the guest areas like restaurants, banquets etc. This was just the initiating phase of the unjust discrimination, as we went ahead into the inside of the cafeteria, fetched out our meals and as soon as we took the first mouthful of that food, our intellect in a fraction of a second dictated our minds that the food we just ingested was not healthy or nutritious or wholesome in nature. Being health conscious, we immediately left the rest of the food in the plates untouched and unfeasted on.

On talking with other diners present there (mostly lower staff), we came to face to face with the unpalatable truth (but palatable to the hotel higher staff) of the hotel industry that separate meals are cooked for the different levels of hotel hierarchy! As this was not enough, it also came to light that these meals are meant to be taken in separate dining rooms as well. Speaking plainly and clearly, a worst kind of discrimination on the basis of one’s level in a hotel and that too on the name of food was being openly practiced in the hospitality sector- the sector truly inhospitable to its own lower level staff.

As the layers of the hidden truth gradually got peeled out, we also came to know that the medium level staff also get the same meal (as taken by the lower level staff) but they have to sit in their own EDR (Executive Dining Room) and they also get one more dish extra- may be a simple reminder of being some higher level to them. Talking about the upper level staff or the big guns in a hotel, they were enjoying the full and untrammeled liberty to feast on either in their cozy and lavish cabins or they could be seen dining out splendidly in the guest areas. And the scene got really heart-lacerating and pathetic when we saw the dining DGM of the hotel, being watched deeply wistfully by the lower level staff present there. The scene was really disgusting and disappointing one and this is the reality of the hospitality industry which I think is not practically hospitable with its own employees – the employees who are the real heroes and the revenue makers of the hotel industry.

Narinder Pal Singh

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