This photo of waiters holding up umbrellas has sparked a debate on food groups

This photo of waiters holding up umbrellas has sparked a debate on food groups

Is it a sign of great customer service or a case of treating servers as being less than human?
Updated 19 Jan, 2016

If there's one thing Kolachi is known for, it's their exemplary customer service. Well, that and their paneer reshmi and chicken karahi but that's a conversation for another day.

The sea-facing restaurant is in the news for different reasons today; a picture started circulating on social media that has people chattering.

Unlike the rest of us Karachites who are paralyzed by sudden showers in the city and don't know what to do, Kolachi was fully prepared last night. The jam-packed grub giant had waiters holding up umbrellas over diners when it started pouring.

Waiters flock around a family holding up umbrellas to shield them from the rainfall
Waiters flock around a family holding up umbrellas to shield them from the rainfall

The divide on social media

Things took a serious turn on popular food forums like SWOT's Guide and Karachi Food Diary. Interestingly, there was a blatant divide regarding what people thought on each group.

Also read: Food wars: Are online food forums a force for good or ripe for misuse?

Foodies lauded Kolachi for their hospitality: one member exclaimed, "Wow, I mean these guys take the cake for awesome customer service" while another chimed in, stating "They have proved that Karachi's hospitality is from the heart not the pocket."

Views differed on KFD. One guy quipped, "You think it is okay for human beings to stand and become live umbrellas for other "human beings"? This is very saddening."

People churned out phrases like "modern day slavery" and "are these Mughal times?"

A mountain out of a molehill?

A little bizarre, no doubt about it but what's fascinating to me is that the restaurant had so many uniform umbrellas in stock. Half of the population of the city doesn't even own umbrellas because it barely rains here -- the eatery is clearly very committed to making sure the customers are always taken care of.

The furor is understandable; it does, at face value, appear regressive. However, how is it any different from us having our drivers carry our shopping bags into the house or the domestic staff from washing our dirty clothes?

If the waiters had been standing out in the rain themselves, it would have been disturbing but they're not; they're standing under the umbrella too. It boils down to whether what they were doing falls under the blanket of asking someone courteously to do the job they're paid for or is it borderline exploitation.

That being said, I wouldn't personally avail such a service. It would make me a tad bit uncomfortable.

The debate also sheds light on how we collectively shame people on social networks. While it's true that for some, a secretly taken photograph of a family enjoying a meal would constitute an unethical invasion of privacy, for others if this helps expose a social issue, it's justified.

Read on: Domestic staff at dinner: Restaurant owners in Pakistan speak up

Are we just getting offended for the sake of being offended?

When there was a social media uprising against the Aamna Aqeel shoot titled 'Be My Slave', that made sense to me -- Now that had racist and elitist undertones, no questions about it.

The shoot was entitled 'Be My Slave' —Photo courtesy:
The shoot was entitled 'Be My Slave' —Photo courtesy:

I'm on the fence about this incident, which seems like a temporary solution quickly implemented by a well-trained team, merely emanating dignity of labour and not the product of a rearward institution.