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‘Batchoy’ incident and Tagore’s servant


This is a true story I will never forget for a long time.

My friend, a city tourism employee assigned in the old Iloilo airport, and his wife ordered batchoy (hot native noodles and beef soup) inside a giant mall in Iloilo City one Sunday afternoon.

They just came from church so they were bejeweled and dressed decently. I was in another table adjacent to the couple and we were chatting about their niece, a nurse who just left for the United Kingdom, while waiting for the order.

After a few minutes, a scrawny looking waitress arrived to serve the hot meals in three bowls — two La Paz batchoy for the couple and one sotanghon batchoy for me.

As the lady server was preparing to put the order on the table, she slipped and lost her balance. She accidentally dropped one bowl of smoldering batchoy straight to the head of my friend while his wife received one bowl on her body and lap. Several noodles and sprinkles of soup landed on my face like hot rain drops. The couple scampered away from their seats like dancing in the firecrackers screaming and shouting expletives.


The waitress went hysterical and didn’t know what to do. She fought back tears while apologizing in hoarse voice, shaking. Cooler heads prevented the wife, more embarrassed than hurt, from uncorking a slap on the waitress’s face.

The couple took turns in cursing her loudly and violently; they questioned her culture. They threatened to sue the waitress and the management. She broke down while fellow waitresses came to her rescue asking apology and appeasing the angry couple while wiping off noodles and beef from my friend’s face.

“Sir, mam, pasensiaha lang ako indi ko hungod aksidente lang gid to. Malooy kamo wala pako katulog kay nagpulaw ako sa hospital may dengue bata ko (Sir, ma’m, please forgive me it was an accident. I beg for your mercy I didn’t have enough sleep because I attended to my child who is a dengue patient in the hospital last night),” she pleaded.

I managed to convince my friend to convince his angry wife to forgive the waitress and leave the place. They transferred to the adjacent Dunkin’ Donuts.


Here’s another story parallel to the batchoy incident. The great Hindu poet, Rabindranath Tagore, tells us a story in equisite poetry.

His servant did not come in on time. Like so many philosophers and poets, Tagore was helpless when it came to the less important things in life, his personal wants, his clothes, his breakfast, and tidying up the place.

An hour went by and Tagore was getting madder by the minute. He thought of all sorts of punishment for the man. Three hours later Tagore no longer thought of punishment. He’d discharge the man without any further ado, get rid of him, turn him out.

Finally the man showed up. It was middway. Without a word the servant proceeded with his duties as though nothing had happened. He picked up his master’s clothes, set to making breakfast, and started cleaning up.

Tagore watched this performance with mounting rage. Finally he said it: “Drop everything, and get out.”

The man, however, continued sweeping and after another few moments, with quite dignity he said: “My little girl died last night.”

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