Engrossed in the making of Bombay Aloo is Mohammed, a kitchen porter-turned-chef of Royal India restaurant in Brick Lane. He was crowned the head just a month after he started work, as the head chef ran away to a rival Kingdom near White Chapel for a few extra bucks. Apparently the boss walked up to him that morning, and quietly asked him: “Can you chop onions fast?” Mohammed replied, “I can, but not fast though”. He was awarded the title Chef, and a new Boss was born in the kitchen.
The soft surface is shining with the rising heat and fragrance of oil. The artiste’s eyes are lit up with excitement. He gently opens the palm to drop in the first set of stars in the form of vibrant and playful mustard seeds, followed by many aromatic ingredients one after the other.
All are equally unique, varied in colour, nature and goodness. As the blessed hand move itself across the warm territories, flavours break free just like an erupted volcano, and the theatre of magic begins here and now. The opulence of juicy red tomatoes enters the crowd, tossed up by few sexy green chillies, golden spark of turmeric, crusty dark crushed peppercorns, sandy rain of freshly ground coriander. Then comes chunky cubes of white potatoes marched into the sublime river of delicious taste sensation.
As every member of our dish glances around and says to the other “we work hard to make potato tasty and we don’t even get noticed, look at him, he gets all the credit and call himself the boss...” we begin our story, the enigma of a Boss from this point of the dish.
In the slums and ghettos, big cities and small towns, multinational companies and tiny retailers, we come across all kinds Bosses with a staggering range of power, vision and sensitivity. They are liked and followed to some extent as they drive the markets and control the world but mostly kept in the distance and misunderstood by many in their own team. The very art of being a Boss is questioned and a study of many bosses in our life could help a conclusion.
I am a Boss today in a business that taught me the whole nature of human behaviour and how it could affect others in the long run. The size and the number of people who constitute our organisation are much smaller compared to enormous scale of world businesses, which grow and change rapidly every second.
The charming first boss in my life taught me the elegance, vision and power of communication. In the early 1990s working with a young gentleman, I learned the strong influence of good language and being close to a team by engaging in activities away from work as much as long hours on duty. There are immodest and unimaginative individuals who drive people crazy when they think being a boss is all about controlling people and without them nothing could work! Unfortunately there are many businesses which fail for the reckless ideologies of the people at the top, sometimes their inability to practice dos and don’ts from their own experience.
Just like other skills, one has to learn so much from the epic drama of life to become a reasonable leader. He has to manifest all good qualities and make sure he will improve on the undesirable qualities of all bosses he came across in life. Having said all this, it may still go against you at times. People may suspect you for being weak or define your approach at work as lack of leadership qualities when you are too nice and respect everyone equally. Nevertheless you will have a lot to cheer within your world of introspection and enjoy long-term personal relationships with everyone you work with.
Being a leader is a blessing and elevation of your work and ethics, it comes with a huge responsibility to pass on the same qualities to the people around you and make them equally successful.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain