Mumbles Mumbai Meets Sleepy Bhopal

28 Jun

June 28, 2014

The 21 Club it is not.

But then again, it isn’t Gray’s Papaya.

Somewhere in the vast sea of cuisine that exists between American Hackleback Caviar at $60 per ounce and $1 hot dogs is the Indian restaurant called Toshan. That isn’t the real name, though it is close, but it is a real restaurant in Queens and I’ve been there about a dozen times. It is a favorite of Saarah’s so, despite my not being a fan of Indian food, we go there every so often. Their food is a fusion of Indian and Chinese, so I generally find something I like on the menu.

It is kind of a hole in the wall but, if you ignore the Department of Health’s B rating (Why? I don’t want to know.) it is a good place with generally decent service and good food.

Just not this time.

We walked in around 5 o’clock and only 2 of the 8 or 9 tables were occupied, which was great because we could get our favorite table. It is a small corner table but it is next to a small partition wall so it has a little bit of privacy, at least on one side. The other side is open to the rest of the place, but at least I’m sure that no Thugee cult members are going to attack from the right and rip my beating heart out of my chest. (Hey, I saw Temple of Doom. I know to watch out for Mola Ram. This is an Indian place, after all.) However, it was not to be.


For reasons you will soon see, we had to skip our favorite table (and safety from heart-stealing cultists) and take one that was, unfortunately, right in the center. (Although there were only 2 tables occupied by customers, the way this place is set up, any other table we took would put us right on top of the other customers. And while one of them was an attractive Desi with a short top, my girlfriend probably would not care for me asking the hot chick to pass the soy sauce.)

So why couldn’t we get our favorite table? It was either:
A- the table had not been cleaned since the last customers left
B- it had a broken leg and was out of service
C- a group of dogs was playing poker there, just like in the famous picture
D- a waiter was asleep there.

The correct answer is D, a waiter was asleep there, and I have photographic proof, taken over Saarah’s shoulder.

Yes, that is Saarah’s debut in this blog. Isn’t she beautiful?

Yes, that is Saarah’s debut in this blog. Isn’t she beautiful?

So there he was, stone cold asleep, not only right at our favorite table, but in fact in the very seat that Saarah prefers. And did I mention that this was Saarah’s birthday? Unless the waiter, whom I’ll call Sleepy Bhopal, was gently snoring Happy Birthday this was a serious damper.

Now I have to point out, the place has other regular waiters. One is a woman who is generally good and attentive. The other is an older man (or maybe just middle aged but with prematurely gray hair- it’s hard to tell and I wasn’t about to try to snap a picture of him since he was both awake and handling my food) who may or may not speak English. It is really hard to tell with his accent. On top of that, he speaks in a very low voice. The woman seems to be in charge as she runs the register, but if she’s free she’ll run the food too, so the service was by committee, delivering food based on who was free and where they were standing at the time. Sounds silly, but like I said, there were only 2 other tables.

So there we were, sitting at a table in the middle of the small room, almost but not quite on top of the other customers, and with no protection at all from Mola Ram if he decided to burst out of the kitchen, horns on head ablaze, determined to rip my beating heart out of my chest. Right after he dropped off a few plates at the next table, that is.

So we sat there and, after I took a few sneaky pics of Sleepy Bhopal, the mumbling gray-haired waiter, whom I’ll call Mumbles Mumbai, came over and took our order. In addition to our food, I got a Diet Coke and Saarah asked for a Diet Coke with extra lime, no ice. This place does not, for some reason, have lemons. They also keep the cans of soda in a cooler behind the counter, so go figure.

The soda came, two cans, two glasses loaded with ice, no lime.

So with a sigh, I called over Mumbles and again asked for some lime. He nodded his head and scurried away. Really, like a crab. Anyway, he was back a few minutes later with… not lime. He was back with our appetizers.

So I just sort of sighed and looked at him with a look of infinite sadness, a look that said “hey, I worked all day, it’s my girlfriend’s birthday, all I want is some lime for her soda, can you please help me out?” Really, you may not think it is possible for a single glance to convey all of that but it did, for it suddenly dawned on him, this look of beatific glory spread over his face, he knew, absolutely knew, and rushed back into the kitchen.

He came right back with two knives.

So I assumed that the knives were for our appetizers (which was lollipop chicken and did not require knives) and waited for the lime, which never did come.

Saarah said “he thought you said knives, not lime.”

And then Mola Ram burst out of the kitchen, horns on head ablaze, and ripped my beating heart out of my chest.


At least that’s what it felt like. So I called over the waitress and asked for (and received!) some lime. Literally a whole soup bowl full.

Meanwhile, things were stirring with the still-sleeping waiter.

While Mumbles Mumbai was off in the kitchen and the waitress (does she need a silly name too? Is Desi Debi starting to cross the line from silly to racist?) was nowhere to be seen, a family came in and, with no one to greet or seat them, just stood around. And since this place is so small, they just stood around right on top of us.

And now, an ethical question.

If you go into a restaurant, and the only person in sight is a sleeping waiter, do you wake him up? I’d let him sleep, not because it is polite or ethical, but because I don’t know if the guy is prone to night terrors and I’d be worried that if I tried to wake him he’d suddenly jolt awake and, with a crazed look in his eyes, try to rip my beating heart out of my chest.

Plus, no way would I want to touch him. Uh uh, nobody is going to sue me for sexual harassment.

But throwing all caution to the wind, the father of the family leaned over and woke up (I couldn’t see how) Sleepy and told him the wanted a take-out order. The waiter wiped the sleep out of his eyes and, with a clear and obvious attitude of “leave me the f- alone,” slowly got up, stretched, and took their order. The waitress then returned and took the order slip from him. For all the world, it looked like she was used to his public naps, like he slept in front of the customers all the time. For all I know, maybe this place is famous for its somnambulistic servers.

Saarah and I eventually finished our meals and wanted to take some leftovers home. (Not the lime, though, there was just so much of it.) We called over the waitress. By now we were largely ignoring Mumbles and only calling over the waitress. However, Sleepy intercepted the signal and came over. We told him we’d like to take our dishes home and Saarah told him we’d also like some extra sauce. There were two sauces on the table and she pointed to the one she wanted. Simple. Easy-peasy.  (Not lemon-squeezy for obvious reasons.)

But Sleepy was wearing his cranky pants this day. Despite having the sauce pointed out to us, he started arguing with us about which sauce we wanted.

“Sauce? What sauce? There’s the sauce for the lollipop chicken, there’s soy sauce, maybe you mean ketchup, there’s the spicy sauce…” etc etc etc yada yada yada and honestly, not only did he have an accent, he was also still half asleep and most of what he said came out in a slur. A nasty sounding slur. Sleepy woke up with an attitude.

Saarah got real angry and told him “THIS SAUCE” and lifted the jar right up in front of him. Sleepy walked away muttering pretty loudly under his breath and Saarah and I both started complaining about him, so loudly that the waitress came over and said something to Sleepy, and from then on only she took care of us, bringing our doggy bag and the check.

Saarah and I then loudly discussed that we were not leaving a tip. (Actually we did- 3 cents. The bill was $34.97 and I dropped $35 on the table, not bothering to stick around. ) The waitress was so sure we were leaving without paying that as soon as I looked as if I might be thinking about possibly maybe standing up and leaving that she rushed over to the table and looked for the money.

So what’s the moral of the story? Never trust Mike Bloomberg. As mayor, he made restaurants put up letter grades to signify the cleanliness of the place, but what about the signs we really need? Like this?

sleep rating

9 Responses to “Mumbles Mumbai Meets Sleepy Bhopal”

  1. T E Stazyk June 28, 2014 at 3:10 am #

    I think this is a franchise! I recognize their style!


  2. Mac of BIOnighT June 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Quite a few laughs on a rainy day, I’m grateful for that, thanks 🙂


    • bmj2k June 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      Hope the sun comes out soon.


      • Mac of BIOnighT June 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

        Not for another week or more , according to the forecasts, so every laughter is precious…


        • bmj2k June 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

          Are you sure you are not living in a Twilight Zone episode?


          • Mac of BIOnighT June 28, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

            Come to think of it, that’d explain a whole series of things that seem to go on in my life all the time… ;-P

            (btw, I don’t remember if I ever told you – I might have – are you familiar with this b-movie? I know the beauty at 1.07, she lives near here, now she’s a blues singer with an amazing voice and soul. )


            • bmj2k June 28, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

              You know Dana Gillespie? Very cool.



  1. The Sunday Seen That: 7/6/14 | Mr. Blog's Tepid Ride - July 6, 2014

    […] Mumbles Mumbai Meets Sleepy Bhopal isn’t fiction, but it sure reads like it. This is the true story of a disastrous dinner. […]


  2. It’s not funny anymore. | Mr. Blog's Tepid Ride - July 10, 2014

    […] its real name, there were a few strange characters there and I wrote about them in the post called Mumbles Mumbai Meets Sleepy Bhopal. I intended it to be semi-humorous (your humor mileage may very) but everything I wrote was true. […]


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