Scroll down to see what the nation wants Independence from...
We, the people of India. These are the words that the Preamble of our Constitution starts with. India is the world's largest democracy and also perhaps one of the most diverse and tolerant nations. However, if there is one thing that binds us Indians together, regardless of caste, class, state, religion or gender - it is food. We are passionate about our food and vociferous about our opinions.
On the occasion of celebrating India's Independence Day, we asked people across the country the one question: What do you want freedom from when you dine out?
Celebrities, bloggers, food enthusiasts and many people from all over India wrote in and shared their thoughts. Here is what #IndiaWantsFreedomFrom:
1. High Service Charge:
Eating out has become so expensive these days that one needs to think twice before stepping out. The prices listed on the menu are high enough by themselves. Over and above that, the bill includes VAT, service tax and a hefty service charge which beefs up the bill to unimaginable proportions. Indian diners want prices listed on the menu that include all these extras so that they know how much their food will cost, when they order the same. They'd also like to have the prerogative to decide on how much to tip and not have a mandatory service charge included, regardless of the level of service offered.
2. Over-Attentive Waiters:
Warm service is a definite plus but there is a fine line between attentive and intrusive. Indian diners do not mind being asked for feedback post their meal. But they resent servers interrupting their meal time and again to ask how the food is. Over-enthusiasm wins no points here.
3. Dietary Restrictions:
With the many 'bans' in recent times, diners across the country feel that the power to choose what to eat and what to avoid should lie with them. 'Freedom of choice' is important to our readers and they want to be able to enjoy all kinds of food and beverages across the country.
4. Hygiene Standards:
Indian dining is infamous for giving global travellers a 'Delhi Belly', ie. an upset stomach. Perhaps our immune systems are so strong that we can enjoy street-side pani puri and chole bhature without a care. However, for foreign visitors, food hygiene is a big concern. Some places like Elco in Mumbai and Prince Pan in Delhi have realised this and serve street food made with mineral water and the chefs don gloves and caps. Waiters clad in clean uniforms are also well appreciated.
5. Snobbish Service and Pretentious Food:
As much as we love food, our readers believe that flavour reigns supreme. We are all for trying new-age concepts like molecular gastronomy and global-standard fine dining. However, the Indian diner likes to be treated with respect, even if they do not understand the fancy names on the menu. Respectful restaurant service staff that can take the diner through the menu is something that our readers look for. Also, they are ready to pay the high prices charged, but demand that the food be as delicious as promised and not just art-on-a-plate.
Is there anything you would like to add to our list? Tweet to us (@SwitchToHealth) using the hashtag #IndiaWantsFreedomFrom and we would love to include your Independence Day wishes here.