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Oberoi goes namashkar nuts

WHAT’S GOING ON at the Oberoi, Bangalore? We’ve visited this fine establishment several times before – but every member of staff, every member of staff tonight greeted us with the namashkar mudra.

That’s two hands held together, fingers pointing up, against the heart. It’s a Sanskrit way of showing your respect and salutations to the spirit within the other you meet.

That’s all fine and dandy. It shows you’re in India when the doorman dressed in his finery does it and ushers you in. But when you ask the barman for a beer – yeah draught Kingfisher, not Haywards 5000 – and he does the namashkar, well you smell something is afoot. Perhaps guests have complained that the Oberoi is not Indian enough? Perhaps some dignitary is staying there and the namastes are absolutely necessary.

Or perhaps some hotel manager has got a bee in his bonnet and told everyone, everyone to do it. It’s not a bad thing – it’s a good thing, it’s Indian culture. But something is going on here.  Because it’s a new phenomenon.