I read about Mirchi and Mime on one of the food groups I am part of on Facebook. Mirchi and Mime in Powai employs deaf and mute people and it’s one of the most fun places I have been to recently. For a country that’s chasing the ‘what’s in it for me’ dream with a passion, this was a refreshing change. The venture is the brainchild of two guys who wanted, in their own words,’ to create wealth not just for individuals but for society’. While doing this, both of them also wanted the emphasis to also be on great food which to me makes sense. As one of the partners explained, ‘If you like the food, you will come back. If you simply come for the experience, you will come here once.’ While the food was delicious and the service impeccable, I learned a few interesting lessons about the world of the deaf and mute. Here’s what I know.
Degrees to Deafness
Not all hearing disabled people are completely deaf. Some of them are partially deaf or can hear a few sounds. At Mirchi and Mime, the hostess, Priyanka is only 50 percent deaf which means she can hear a few sounds. The waiters and waitresses on the other hand, have severe hearing loss at 120%. Irrespective of their levels of hearing, these guys are super warm and smiling all the time which makes you wonder why we people who can hear don’t aspire to be more like them.
Their trainer at Mirchi and Mime, a guy called Clyde, who has been in the field of hospitality for the past 20 years, first learned the sign language so he could train the people at the restaurant. He says’ Their other senses are razor sharp. They have tasted everything on the menu here and know the dishes from the way they look and smell.’
Since the waiters and waitresses have never looked for employment in the field of hospitality, they did’t know what it would entail. Clyde tells us he had to train them not only on all things hospitality but even things like routine. They weren’t equipped, mentally and physically, to handle the pressures of a 9-5 job. So he had to teach them the importance of waking up, turning up at work on time and understanding a what it’s like to work fixed hours. He had to teach them to be smile and even to be groomed before they were ready to hit the floors. This struck me as odd that we don’t train differently abled people to become a part of the workforce. But then, we don’t train anyone to be part of the workforce. We force them to rote theory.
Sign language is obviously very different from any other language you know. But do you know that it is also one of the most interesting ones? Since sound is out of the questions, the language is extremely visual. Their way of showing colour, especially orange was quite cute. Or their way of telling you how they distinguish between people is about describing that person with the one quality of that person that stands out the most. Like if they have glasses or are in a particular position. I really enjoyed watching the waiters talk among themselves, it was like a sneak peek into their world. And though silent, the impression they left on me will echo for a long time.
Photo courtesy: Google
Mirchi and Mime is open in Powai. Call in advance to get a place as they tend to get full pretty quick. They plan to open more restaurants around the city but the immediate plan is to open a modern European place in Colaba.