Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Getting used to it

One gets used to anything.
One even begins to find - and seek! - amusement through one's own inconvenience.

Like when you are in a third-rate hotel in small town India and the telephone wires lie disconnected. Un-connectable, actually. And therefore, there is no possibility of room service or phone calls. There is no geyser. So no possibility of running hot water.

The curtains are pale, and see-through; the window faces a busy flyover.
The hotel towel is too dirty to be used. Since you have forgotten your own, you use your clean clothes to wipe yourself, speculating in a detached way whether the stains on the hotel towel were rust, or dried blood, and if the latter, whence it flowed, and wherefore?

Like when, you walk down to the reception and ask them to give you a wake-up call at 6 am and bed tea, and then just when you're about to fall asleep, you realise they cannot call you because the telephone is disconnected. And un-connectable.

So, you spend the night restless, waking up every half hour to check on the time. At 6 am, you go down to reception, only to find it dark, with two figures wrapped in blankets, asleep on sofas.
So, you clear your throat.
To no avail.

You knock on the door.
To no avail.

You whisper "Excuse me, bhaisaab."
To no avail.

You scold, loudly, "Hello? Bhaisaab, uthiye!!"
To no avail.

You aren't sure what the behaviour codes here are like and have never before shaken awake a complete stranger. So, you shake the sofa instead. A sleepy head emerges and you say, "chai milegi, bhaisaab?"

Later, at night, since the telephone is still un-connectable, you keep an ear cocked for footfalls and rush to the door when you hear the waiter knocking the door next door. And you yell at him to stop and bring you some food.

When you enquire, he assures you that diet coke is available.

And you are amazed and ask, "Really? You can serve me diet coke? Like in a can?"

And confidently, he nods. "Yes, yes." A cloud of momentary doubt. "Maybe Pepsi?"

"Diet Pepsi?"

"Yes, yes."


Then the food arrives and is accompanied by regular Pepsi in a big bottle.

And you say, "But I asked for Diet Pepsi."

And the waiter grins and points to the bottle and says, "Yes, yes."

And you finally get it (Stop asking for the impossible, you moron!), so you grin back, saying, "Oh cool, thank you!"


Anonymous said...

It was fun reading the post.

Brought back memories of my recent trip to Uttaranchal. Stopped at some place touted as the angler's paradise, only to find the river resembling more like a drain flowing out of a slum.

Feeling dejected, we walked to a nearby hotel where my friend asked for boneless chicken. Pat came the reply, "Sir yahan to sirf tari-wala chicken hi milega".

Ashok said...

This is hilarious and so typical of most people one encounters in rural and semi-urban India. In their enthusiasm to dole out information, they seem to agree to everything you say or ask for. With a 'Yes, yes' on their lips, and a horizontal shake of their head indicating denial you can never be sure of what their intended response is.

R. said...

I remember one such hotel a long long time ago in Cochin, immediately after i had finished my engineering. I had gone for an interview with a large fertilizer company, the manager of this lodge, woke me up dutifully and gave me breakfast from his house next door and sent me on the way with sing song type "All the best", at 5 am in the morning.

The fact that some stranger woke up at 4 or earlier to make food and wake me up all because I was a fresher attending an interview reinforces faith in my fellow human beings. I didn't get the job but I did get a good dose of humanity.

Docs Dope said...

All female journalists are RAANDS

Nikhil Pahwa said...

Lovely post, Annie...the detail, the "little" things.

Dr. Gonzo said...

I'm a city boy!

Love that line from Suketu Mehta's Maximum City. So am I,and have done enough of the small town hotels to know what your post says.

Thankfully, I am not addicted to tea, morning or otherwise.

Loved your post!

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