Thursday, May 03, 2007
The dinner crowd at Annalakshmi, Chinatown Point
"While we continue with the spin on Greed as the driving force in our economy, maybe we should try to develop a different formula, a return to the past when life was simpler, when the motivation in life includes things like passion, charity, compassion, service, selflessness etc.
Though many have already subscribed and become strong believers in the new virtue of Greed, I believe there will still be people, or a few people, who will not be seduced and would still want to do a little goodness just for goodness sake. And they will also be some who have plenty and would want to give a little to charity in time or in money."
I was attracted to the opening paragraphs of "A public hospital driven by passion" by Redbean posted in Harro. It made me think of Annalakshmi Restaurant. It can be given the accolade of "A restaurant driven by passion". The founder of the restaurant believed in serving the society through arts, food, music and dance. In Singapore, the restaurant first started its operations at the Excelsior Hotel on 8th March 1986. It has now relocated to China Town Point and Amoy Street. The following is an extract from its website. I understand Annalaskmi can also be found in Penang, Chennai, Coimbatore and Perth.
"Polished, private and yet utterly unpretentious, Annalakshmi's success is the result of its underlying philosophy - serve, love, give. It is a philosophy based on the ancient adage - "athithi dhevo bhava" meaning “the guest is God” manifested through the service of largely voluntary staff - housewives who know what it takes to prepare a wholesome meal and a miscellaneous team of doctors, teachers, technicians, clerks and accountants providing polite, unobstrusive service. With ingredients prepared specially, each item on the elaborate menu reflects the ancient culinary art of India.
Annalakshmi stands out for yet another reason - the array of delectable dishes is served in an ambience that reflects four thousand years of Indian Visual Arts. In every way then - food, ambience and service - it is a restaurant where vegetarian dining is a cultural experience.
Note: There is no fixed price for our dining menu in Annalakshmi. It is “Eat what you Want and Give as you Feel” concept. This is our principle not only in Annalakshmi, but also while staging major music/dance productions by TFA. There has seldom been a fixed price for the show tickets.
Does all this arouse your curiosity? Read on… or visit us in Annalakshmi to experience it yourself first-hand. We will be happy to serve you."
I purposely brought my relatives and nieces to Annalakshmi during their recent visit so as to let them taste the experience of what it means when people serve from their hearts. They were very impressed with the excellent service of the crew who were efficient, polite and always smiling despite the crowd of hungry diners. We specially asked for the non-spicy version.
Interestingly, people often reciprocate kindness. Although I have not done any research, I am assuming that diners at Annalakshmi must be fair and generous people who pay reasonably for their food. If not, how could the restaurant survive for 21 years? My nephew, Henry, (the most "financial" of my nephews and nieces) who is working with UBS, New York, asked me how much I paid for the dinner for seven adults and 3 little children. "$105.00". I told Henry I do not like to shortchange anyone.
When I move to Little India, which is one MRT stop away from my office and 3 MRT stops away from Annalakshmi, I would be able to save some time from travelling. With the extra time, I am now thinking of volunteering myself as a waitress and cook once or twice a week at Analakshmi as I enjoy cooking and serving. It is also for the purpose of giving myself more exposure to pick up Tamil and Hindhi. I will also have plenty of opporunity to meet interesting diners. Care to join me, anyone?