Chennai Entry 13: Moustache Mania

Snapshots

The working week begins again, this time at the offices of our second company. A slightly awkward day: the offices are much larger and grander than the couple of shabby rooms occupied by the first typesetters, so our introduction was a little more intimidating, particularly as three male managers give a very different impression to three female managers. As every typesetter works differently, the first day is bewildering, as we try and understand the complexities of their workflow and put names to the many faces. As I’ve spent a lot of time watching people talk at close quarters today, I’ve had frequent opportunities to observe varied kinds of moustaches. Some were badly in need of a clipping, others looked as though they received regular waxing – quite dapper. It’s rare to see an Indian business man, now I think of it, without a moustache. Maybe it adds a distinguished air to their business transactions. My most vivid memory of the day will be my ever-present sense of incredulity that, despite the temperature reaching a steamy 33 degrees outside, the blasted air conditioning kept the atmosphere inside the office at around -5. We were comforted slightly to find out that the heating had failed too in the office back in the UK, so at least we weren’t the only ones freezing up below the knee. Still, I am conscious of the wrongness of being in India and planning to wear tights tomorrow, just to save my feet from extinction.

Say what you like about the Breeze’s frequent power cuts and lack of personal hygiene (and I do), but the food is excellent. Their little restaurant is comically named ‘Kane N Able’ – not sure why either misspelling was necessary, nor why a tale of fratricide was particularly inspiring, nor even why poor Cain and Abel appear on the menus wearing nothing at all but a sheep and a sheaf of wheat. Their service is slow, but dinner is always worth the wait. The manager is beginning to unnerve me a little: he’s very tall and thin with gangly limbs, and always approaches your table from the side (enter stage right, with manic expression), as though he’s trying not to be noticed until he gets close enough. He’s obsessed with feedback, and drifts towards us with an avid gleam in his eye to make us fill in a form at every meal. Tomorrow I intend to use the feedback form to complain about the frequent requests for feedback. For today, every time I spied him in my peripheral vision, hovering behind the waiter with yet another printed flyer in his hand, it was all I could do to not laugh – he looked like he was playing a particularly inept game of ‘What’s the Time, Mr Wolf’.

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