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Cheers to Murthy: Beyond the Peanuts: Why My Favorite Waiter Deserves More (But I Don't Want Him to Leave)

The Hospital isn't a place for the faint of heart (or stomach). Its peeling paint and mismatched furniture wouldn't win any design awards. But for those of us seeking an antidote to the daily grind, it's a sanctuary. The air hangs heavy with the scent of cigarette smoke, drunk conversations, occasional  bar fights and the familiarity of sounds of rhythmic clinking of glasses and the occasional burst of laughter. Here, worries fade with each gulp of your drink, anxieties unravel like tangled string.

And a big part of the Hospital's therapeutic effect? Murthy.

Murthy isn't just a bar tender of this peculiar bar, he remembers your usual – a Kingfisher to quench the initial thirst, followed by a generous pour of dark rum with a splash of coke for those longer evenings dissecting life's absurdities. Feeling feisty? He'll suggest a whisky and Sprite, knowing your preference for a sweet escape. The pakoras and peanuts practically appear on your table before you can even think about them. It's a sixth sense honed by countless shared stories and late-night philosophical ramblings.

Murthy deserves a better ward. The Hospital's wages wouldn't keep a rickshaw running, let alone support a family. It sits heavy on my conscience with every perfectly poured drink. Recently, I saw an advertisement for a much better, higher-paying establishment – a place with crisp tablecloths and waiters reciting the specials with practiced eloquence. The pay there? Double, maybe triple what he makes here.

But that place isn't for folks like us. It's a swanky joint with a hefty price tag, not the place for cheap drinks and whispered jokes about the local cricket match. Murthy's magic wouldn't translate there. His charm lies in navigating the chaos of the Hospital, remembering your order after a week's hiatus, and throwing in that extra onion ring because you look a little down.

So, here I am, at a crossroads more perplexing than the waiter who forgot to bring the lime. Should I be the one to discharge Murthy from this familiar hospital room for a potential pay raise in a sterile, unfamiliar environment?

The thought of The Hospital without Murthy feels like waking up to a power cut. No familiar face greeting you, no silent understanding of your needs. It's a whole new set of introductions, a relearning of the unwritten rules of the bar. Will the new waiter understand the subtle clinking of your glass that means "refill, please"? Will the peanuts be fresh, or will they be the stale remnants of yesterday's revelry? Will the Hospital still feel like a refuge, or will it become just another anonymous bar?

It's not just about the convenience. Murthy has become a part of the experience. He's the bartender who remembers your name, the therapist who listens with a knowing smile, the silent confidante who witnesses your victories and commiserates over your losses. Losing him feels like losing a piece of the therapy the Hospital provides.

On the other hand, can I justify keeping someone in a place that undervalues them for the sake of my own comfort? Imagine Murthy in a crisp uniform, navigating the tables of this high-paying establishment with confidence. Picture him learning the finer points of service, a skill that will benefit him no matter where he goes next. Maybe he'll meet people who can open new doors, who recognize the talent he possesses.

Maybe this swanky establishment won't be his forever place, but it could be a stepping stone. Maybe he'll develop his skills, gain exposure, and eventually open his own dhaba, one that serves the perfect cup of chai alongside delicious samosas at affordable prices.

There are no easy answers in this ethical hangover. Life, like a good rum and coke, is a mix of sweet and sour. Sometimes, the bittersweet taste comes from letting go, even if it means sacrificing a piece of your own comfort for someone else's growth.

Maybe someday our paths will cross again, maybe at a place that caters to both my love of cheap drinks and a perfectly poured Old Monk. Until then, I'll raise a glass – not just to Murthy, but to the moral dilemmas that challenge us to be a little less selfish and a little more conscious of the human connections that make these dingy havens like the Hospital feel like home.

So, Murthy, if you're reading this (which is unlikely), know this: You're appreciated. Your service is more valuable than the meager wages this place offers. And while losing you would be a blow, I wouldn't want to hold you back from a brighter future. This might not be goodbye, just a pause, a chance for both of us to explore new wards in the vast hospital that is life!

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