For many people, the mental image of
But then we also have hovels for pubs. Like one I came face to face with a few weeks ago when the boys from the office offered to buy me lunch where they eat. We shall call it Club X. I’d heard of it so much and was eager to visit.
I did not exactly expect to be going to the Ritz Carlton but as soon as we got into the parking I was sure we had made a wrong turn. The half done un-kept structure could not possibly be the famous Club X! Something was not right. But curiously the parking lot was so full that even finding a spot was quite a task. All those people could not be wrong, I encouraged myself. Still I was skeptical about the cheap tables and plastic chairs.
Well, it turned out we were in the right place alright. And whoever designed Club X should be prosecuted in a court of law. The first thing we came across on our way to the sitting area was the washrooms and with them the unmistakable pungent stench of ammonia. Next the butchery with the grotesque carcasses hanging upside down with just about every inch covered with flies. Then the bar and finally the sitting area. To think that part of those carcasses would soon be on a plate near me!
By the time we identified a table and sat down, I was just about finished. But Club X was not done with me yet. The waitress delivered the knock out blow when she came to clean the table. Or rather to smear it with foul smelling diesel apparently to keep away the flies. It would have been easier on the soul if it worked but other than make us sit awkwardly with our hands to ourselves, it did not work on the flies. They were back attempting to land as soon as she was done wiping. No wonder all the patrons were waving their hands from side to side amid bites and sips. I unraveled that mystery when I found myself doing the same - they were chasing away the flies.
To make my life easier, I decided to concentrate my energies on looking for something positive about the place. There had to be. The place was so packed! Ok, the place was well stocked. It was not one of those places you visit and there is either no cold coke or no warm this and that. It seemed everything everyone ordered was there. And considering the way it was packed, the waiters were very efficient. That’s all. Unless maybe the free drinking water they provided in greasy sticky jugs was a point in their favour.
And the tap! Oh God the tap! There was no sink under the tap. Just a bucket to collect the dirty water as the patrons washed their hands. And some pieces of panga soap. Call me whatever but I could not touch it. I figured I was better off with the dirt from all the handshakes than with what I might collect from touching that tap. Hence I did not wash my hands. By the time the food hit the table, the plates piled on top of other plates, my appetite was mince. I managed to eat, but only the meat. Maybe because it came hot from the fire. Plus choma is always tasty. I was however unable to ignore some very unpleasant thoughts about the vegetable salad and so I did not touch it.
Using the washroom was one stunt I was not going to pull. Seems nose powdering ladies are not welcome here – just hardcore drunkards who believe that a bathroom is a bathroom is a bathroom. As for me, at the first sign of a bathroom break, I was out of the club like a bat out of hell feeling like a million amoebic dysentery causing pathogens were crawling all over me. I grew up preparing and sometimes eating my meals in a smoke filled kitchen back in the village, but it was not dirty.
I’ve obviously not been to the men’s washrooms but I got a candid description from someone who had. Let’s just say it’s not advisable to visit before eating – otherwise you won’t eat.