Idli, Orchid and Willpower
Author: Vithal Venkatesh Kamat
English version by: Sanjit Narwekar
Published by: Orchid Books.
Synopsis: This inspiring autobiography of Vithal Kamat who relives his journey from the run-of-the-mill corner-store restaurateur to the owner of a unique five-star ecotel: the orchid, mumbai. ‘My journey was complete. This was not a dream. This was a fulfillment of a dream,’ he says.
Excerpt: The Taj wasn’t built in a day! How then could The Orchid be any different? At that time, even the concept of The Orchid was not in my mind. At that time I was merely a restauteur Vithal Kamat! And then, one day at a party, I met the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India…and the roller coaster ride began. No logic to it! At this party, as is my habit, I was networking, trying to meet as many people as possible, chatting with them.
The Governor asked me, “How long would you need to set up a restaurant?”
“If the place is ready, I can set up a restaurant within 24 hours,” I replied confidently.
He laughed and said, “Come and meet me tomorrow and we’ll talk about it.”
The Reserve Bank’s new high-rise had just been completed. The next day I went and met the governor. Many of the departments had still not shifted into the building. In some places work was still going on and in others, there were huge empty spaces. The governor showed me a huge empty space of about 5000 square feet and said, “I want you to start a canteen here. When do you think you can start?”
I replied, “There is light as soon as you switch on a button. That is all it will take to start it.”
He laughed at what he thought was a joke, but for me, it was not a joke. It was a challenge!
My Review: As unique as the name suggests, is the story of vithal kamat. It is the story of a man who would not let failure stand in the was of his dreams. The author’s father, who was his guide throughout, owned a few udpi restaurants in Mumbai. Right from a young age, the author was exposed to the hospitality business. “Atithi devo bhava” or "a guest is like god" was the principle followed in his father’s restaurants. Punctuality was necessary and so was the happiness of the customers. The author took these principles to heart. He was an entrepreneur and even before The Orchid, he had participated in opening and managing quite a few restaurants.
He travelled the world in search of experience and found plenty of it. Like the time when he broke into an instant jig at a food outlet to collect money when he had none, to the time when he rolled out motichoor laddus all through the night.
A collection of all such experiences helped him build ‘The Orchid,’ the first five star ecotel in India! The ups and downs that come with business, betrayal by a loved one, and mistakes one makes in his journey are all portrayed in a very charming and candid manner in this book.
The author does not shirk from admitting his mistakes and nor does he refrain
from taking credit where it is deserved. The book portrays truth and not for one moment do you think that san incident has been over-stated.
All in all a wonderful book to read on a cozy Saturday afternoon; complete with illustrations and loads of incidents that will make you smile to yourself.
Rating:4 on 5
Price:M.R.P INR 150/-