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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ah...Whatever

It felt that it would be overly desolate indulgence to give oneself to irrelevant rants when 183 too many people were massacred in Mumbai over an unarticulated issue. Like many others, I felt vacant too but gifted with a superior bounce-backability, I am back in business (It helped that none of my friends had as much as lost a limb). Yeah, baby!

So, like most others, I commute to work except that I commute from KL to Singapore every Monday and I go back to KL every Friday. In between, I crawl the terminals, stay at a hotel, sport a stubble and wear crumpled clothes. Even though, there are many positives, like having a full-blown regular breakfast for the first time in years or finishing four books in three weeks; you continue to look for those small irritants because you are not settled in. As Upamanyu Chatterjee would say, you are engulfed with a vague sense of dislocation, only literally so in your case. This article is my take on those tiny irritants, the missing little comforts that you otherwise take for granted at home.

Let’s start with necessities first - slippers. I belong to that elite group which feels naked if barefooted. I have to wear slippers whether it is a dirty floor or a carpeted hotel room. For my life, however, I don’t understand why the hotel-provided slippers are so difficult to figure out. The first time, you put on those little white fluffy feathery things, you almost invariably get the feeling that you are wearing them the wrong way. You immediately exchange your feet and feel a little better but the vague unease doesn’t leave you because you are still not sure if you are wearing them properly. You twist them this way and that way to make them match the exquisite shape of your foot but to no avail. Eventually, I was so agitated that I started carrying my own slippers.

Slippers are still not too bad an irritant; besides you can eliminate this bit of uncertainty by packing your own pair. But ‘The Room’, itself, can be so unpredictable. No, it’s not an error. I think these Rooms have lives of their own. Over the past six weeks, I have been put up in different Rooms at the same hotel. You would expect them to be fairly similar but they are not. In the first one, the air was ice-cold even though the thermostat was set for 21 degrees. I had to raise it to 25 degrees before I felt comfortable without a jacket. In the third one, however, I had to reduce the temperature to 18 degrees (minimum allowed) and still sweated buckets. Same was true for the shower. When I set the water to a supposedly warm 25 degrees, I smelt my burnt skin first before I felt the pain, so hot was the water. At another floor, even 33 degrees was not good enough. The differences are so stark that now on each trip, I find myself looking forward to unraveling the mysteries offered by The Room and was disappointed this week when they gave me a Room I had stayed before in.

Well, you try to make the most of what you have eg. since I am a frequent visitor, the hoteliers have been putting me at the top floor which lends itself to a pleasant view of the Singapore skyline. Now, I like coming back to a brightly lit Room with day-light flooding in. First day, I came back, opened the curtains, basked in the dying sun, read a book and slept dreamily. Next morning, I automatically woke up to a very good morning as my Room was filled with reflected natural light. The good mood carried me through the day but when I arrived back at the hotel in the evening, the curtains were…, yes, drawn. Now, they have strategically placed two heavy chairs and an even heavier coffee table right in front of the windows, so it can be quite an exercise for your back to reach out and pull the curtains. Anybody looking in from outside (A pervert with binoculars) would probably think that you are going through some kind of a fit. Anyhow, I pulled them aside and next morning, I left a note by the bed-side:

Please don’t draw the curtains. Thanks!

In the evening, I found that the curtains were, unexpectedly, drawn again. I reckoned that the cleaner probably missed the note and so left the same note next morning at the window sill, only to find the curtains drawn yet again. I second-guessed that either the person could not read English or was having a perverse kind of fun at my expense, probably testing when I exactly give up. I felt sorry for the person because this was likely the only source of fun for him/her. Not wanting to be left behind, I wrote:

If you can read English, you will leave the curtains open.

A familiar darkened Room unwillingly welcomed me in the evening. It was almost like every time I left, it reset itself (Refer the mini-series “The Room”). I reckoned that it was time to give up but not before a last jab and so I wrote:

Ah….whatever.

Sometimes, insomnia leads you to look at The Room with a fresh perspective. One such night, I noticed the green leaf-shaped card lying by the bed-side. It announced:

Save the environment and leave me on top of the bed if you don’t want your bed-sheets to be changed.

Now, I have done nothing in my entire life to combat global warming. Oh yes, my upbringing forces me not to waste electricity etc. but that’s about it. And here was a chance to redeem myself. That night, I dreamt of being awarded the most environmentally conscious guest at the hotel. Next morning, I forgot about it completely. In the evening, the bed was remade with fresh sheets because I didn’t put the little green leaf on top of it. I considered suggesting to the authorities that the default option should be not to change the bed-sheets unless requested for. But I remembered my little experience with the curtains and decided against it. I told myself that I should remember to put the leaf-card on the bed in the morning. I might as well have been smoking dope. Heck, in the mornings, it takes me a few hours before I find myself. How the hell am I supposed to find a tiny whining leaf!!! Anyhow, now I have taken to sleeping with Ms. Leaf. Thankfully, I don’t have a girl friend or she might have accused me of cheating. I wonder what the cleaner person thinks in the morning when he finds the crumpled leaf in my bed. Well, at least, I am still in the running for the most environmentally conscious guest award.

19 comments:

Hiren Gajria said...

Hello Beta,

Surely slippers is something i need as well. I hate being bare foot. The slippers provided in the Hotels are first of all too small for feet. Another irritant i do find is No internet or slow internet. I hate slow speeds on the net. Takes me back to the times when we would press enter for a web page - make a 2min. Maggi Noodles and return - and would find the images still loading. Another thing im fussy about is the bathroom. Clean and Spacious is a MUST. Tub is a MUST. Ah i could keep cribing all day.

Annoymously said...

Hee. Hotel room oddities could fill a book (both occupants and rooms, sometimes).

I ALWAYS carry my own slippers & use the towel thingies only when stepping out of the bathroom (no furry options in hotels i've stayed in yet, unfortunately!)...wch reminds me of the bathroom i once had to wear slippers to during a bathe, as the floor was littered with an occasional dead cockroach. (a really good location in Delhi). I'd gotten back at too late an hour to feel comfy calling creepy room service guys in & had to ignore the carcass. I'd never subject myself to that again, ever!

Annoymously said...

Just remembered, the worst motel room (cannot be called a hotel by any stretch of the imagination, though that's what they called it) i stayed in had to be the one whr it had a window opening into another hotel room(!!?). Feel free to imagine the paranoia... :-)

This in the most tourist visited city of India.

Annoymously said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annoymously said...

To conclude on a happy note, hotel rooms hv otherwise meant - a great vacation, fantastic views, gigantic tubs & lotsa pampering & bliss!

Annoymously said...

Also identify with hot water woes - seems to be a global phenomena.

Beta said...

Slippers phenomena seems to be universal. So is the hot water thingy.

I did find a roach once in my bathroom long time back. Think one baby roach is hiding in my car as well. It appeared only after Hiren graced the passanger seat. Wonder if there is a connection.

Hiren Gajria said...

I have a magnetic personality. Im sure Beta, Annoy and the baby roach would vouch for it.

Hahehehahahha.

Annoymously said...

Have been allowed in the hallowed seats of Hiren's gigantic car & can assure u that no living being would dare enter uninvited!

Our topics of conversation - wch all of us take valuable time out of to participate in, remind me of sienfeld's theme - about absolutely nothing :-) wot say we hv a marketable screenplay here?

Annoymously said...

oops, that was a blooper - meant to say - val time out to participate in...

Beta said...

Annoy - My attention spans are very short-lived. Writing a blog article is simple because it only takes a few minutes. But writing a screenplay - phew! I would lose my interest mid-way through it. As long as you be the charismatic self-motivated leader, and I could contribute like an aging beaurocrat, it could work :-)

Annoymously said...

Aging, eh? Wch reminds me, do hv your nephew get in touch, we may just hit it off. Y'kno wot they say abt age - just a number & all that..

Beta said...

Ha Ha. Dont think my nephew is interested in girls at this stage. You would have to wait a long time but I would add you to his growing female fan list. At the moment, he is only interested in his aging uncle :-)

Toddler said...

Sorry for jumping in a bit too late, have been a li'l busy. Slippers phenomenon is universal as concluded above. I remember having stayed at a well-known hotel in mumbai which was perfect in every manner except that my cupboard was already occupied with bugs. Even today, i feel creepy about the incident. Reflecting back, I think my best experience has been Genting Highlands in terms of hotel accomodation.

Beta said...

Genting Highlands?? Thats surprising. I didnt really stay in any hotel there but the corridors and the toilets were a bit creepy.

Toddler said...

Well I was very much expecting a phooey remark. Reason being, people don’t usually stay at Genting for long and those who do, don’t like it much. I know Genting doesn’t epitomize best of customer service and comfort. However, my experience says otherwise... read on.

We had Corp training in KL followed by an award ceremony with a two days' interval between the two events. So we, a group of 8 people, sneaked out to Genting. To make the most of the interval, we opted to stay up there. Now I am a hygiene freak thus I was forewarned to keep my expectations low so I kept my fingers crossed all through. Upon arrival, we found everything pretty neat and clean to our surprise. In fact, we liked their hospitality the most. By the way, we stayed at Awana. Think getting beyond expectations always leads to an overwhelming experience :)

Toddler said...

We barely slept for 15 hours in 5 days and we looked bizarre by the time we reached back home. My parents almost denied to acknowledge me :)

I'm visiting Vietnam shortly, have you been there?

Beta said...

Good that you had fun in Genting.

No. Havent really seen Vietnam except on business trips.

Toddler said...

Same here. Most of my expeditions are undertaken solely for business reasons.