After nearly a decade of waiting on tenterhooks and smacking its lips in anticipation, Kochi finally walked into the open doors of its first ever KFC. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for Kochi’s much-awaited, first, original Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. After several KFC imposters that deabbreviated into Kerala Fried Chicken, Krispy Fried Chicken, Kerala FOOD Centre and the likes, the Real McCoy is finally here. And phew for Kochites. Or so I thought.
Not to say that the KFC falls short in any way as my friend’s adventures at the place would tell you so. He got into the long line uncomplainingly as, the already initiated would testify, KFC etiquette requires you to. Well, wasn’t he the regular at the Forum KFC at Bangalore, so much so that he’s almost a pilgrim, and knew the hows and ways of KFC decorum. And so he gets in line which predictably happens to be a very long line and Kerala DOESNOT like nor understand long lines, except outside alcohol shops. (which in turn, is a brilliant and extremely rare case study on human behaviour and how empathy can make them co-exist peacefully and turn even malayalee men into patron saints of patience - but that’s a story for another time) And so he’s waiting patiently in the long line with only chicken on his mind and that’s when he encounters his first surprise. Midway, someone decides to ask him what he’s like to order. “Huh? So what does it look like I’m doing in this line? Waiting to meet Elvis?” My friend, caught totally off-guard is as confused as Brer Rabbit would be on being equidistant from Brer Wolf, Brer Fox and his rabbit hole. If he trusts this man with dubious credentials, (what if he is an imposter wearing a KFC badge and uniform which he stole from some poor unsuspecting employee with the sole intention of coming between him and his Kentucky Fried Chicken; what if he’s deployed by his very annoyed girl friend who was very annoyed (obviously) at not being taken along? Huh? Huh? Huh? What then?) It could mean losing his coveted place in the line (he was half-way through, remember?) so he gives his order but refuses to give up his place in the queue. He stands his ground, and it’s a proud moment for all of us listening to him narrating the incident. (Annoyed girl friend, included)
Just then another man beckons to him with a “Sir” that has a curious yet sinister quality not unlike the shady man with sweets who hangs around schools. He beckons and invites my friend to take a seat. By now another man, this time a customer, is making the beginnings of a scene that looks like it could get ugly. Really ugly.
Man: (looks with dismay at his order and says with near horror) “But there’s no bun?”
KFC-ian: (With the forced patience of a guy in a white coat to a harmless mental patient) “No sir, there is no bun”.
He says there is no bun but what he means is “Duh, did you see any bun?” The aforesaid man must have keen abilities of voice and tone discernment. For he quickly gets over his initial dismay and takes on the tone of a scornful cynic and looks to my friend and says “Imagine! No bun!” in a way that implied “Maybe you can’t handle how low our world has stooped, but I have long-reconciled myself to a bun-less world”.
So my friend finally gives his order and then has to deal with more confused KFC-ians who all want him to sit where they direct him to. Much to his, quite obviously, confusion. Where, how, what-the, how-the, would he wait for his precious Kentucky Fried Chicken? He didn’t trust any of these jokers to give him his long awaited KFC-in-Cochin-Kentucky-Fried-Chicken. Could he sit? Would that project him to be weak? Would they use that as an opportunity to hoodwink him and give his order off to the closest annoyed customer, who was also taking quarterback positions? And then again the very distractive “Sir, sit here, sir” “Sir, please take your seat here”. With enough vigilance and shrewdness my friend managed to get his hands and his incisors into the much-longed for KFC-in-Cochin-Kentucky-Fried-Chicken. After much pain and agony, Kochi finally got its very own KFC. I don’t know what you think, but to me, it sort of sounds a lot like a newly-beheaded chicken running around in silent squawking, doesn’t it? And a lot of terrible service.