If you not among those who frequent a 5+ star hotel, there ain't nothing to fancy about 'em.
It has been ages since I have born, but never once had I spent a day in a 5 star hotel, nor more importantly tasted its wine!! I had really bizarre thoughts of the vivacious life of a luxurious hotel, free champagne, girls in swimming pool from 6 continents with all shapes and sizes, silk chocolates, mouth watering food etc etc. Coming from a ultra middle class minded family, I had even made plans to flick the L'oreal (or at least as good a quality of L'oreal) shampoo packets, teak wood expensive bath soaps and the fluffy bunny slippers (these things for some reason had been impinged on my mind after watching endless list of Travel and Living shows in Discovery channel). It felt so exciting!
Entering the hotel the first time, I could smell ...nay I guess even taste the ubiquitous fragrance. Silk saree clad women talking in convent school accents, helped me with credit card swipes and fill some bona-fide like details. There were pink-red Apples at the desk whao! quite contrary to mango-bite sugar candies and "melody itni kyun chocolaty hain" poster carrying melody chocolates below it. The lounge was filled with foreign men calling each other sir, wearing hang dog expressions like they were discussing the current socio-economic situation of Israel. NRI kids moping about in their brand new "Indian" clothes, complaining incessantly about the heat and the food in terribly incongruous American accents.
As I tip-toed into my room, I was over awed by the all-smooth wooden floor, life size glass window which peeped right into the swimming pool, a shower cabinet, a 30+ inch TV and fully digitized gym across the corridor, which looked more electronic than my IT company!! This I thought was the way to live.
It was when I asked for a little help to those Kalamandir-silk-saree ladies, when the problem arouse. I asked for a city taxi number to get dropped at IIIT-Hyderabad which was just around 4kms from the Hotel. I couldn’t get out and call for an auto on the streets, as the Hotel was located on a uninhabited, deserted monumental land with no sign of street vehicles in a 2km radius!! Also, as I had to self sponsor this short trip, the double rates charged by the hotel taxi could be too big a butter mountain for the thin dimes in my wallet to handle. But, Gotta to hand it to old world Indian businesses to smooth talk you into supplication. I ended up taking a hotel taxi raking up a bill of 850 bucks for a Non-AC 4km voyage. What!! It felt as though I went all the way from Kanyakumari to Ladakh, Well this was not the end when I had to shell out all the coins in my wallet.Later that night I signed of dinner bill worth 2748Rs. My first look at the bill, err .. I noticed distinct numbers. Crazily enough, I also noticed the number started with least of the 4 digits.
By night I had become ineffective to the hotel rates. I was enjoying the luxury. My room was filled up with so many South-American drinks that i could learn Spanish by just reading them. I even enjoyed the football chettinad dinner, where cuisines of 60 countries had been splashed out. For once in a lifetime experience the food was worth the digits. I later took a dip in the coolest green swimming pool, I had ever encountered till date. The pool was so cool, I won a trip with a cute Turkish girl to Hyderabad pearl market. Had a few shots of Argentine vodka along with her (and guess what) beside the pool, with a sort of semi romantic jazz played by two sweet Malayalee sopranos, one blond Swedish counter-tenor and a jolly green Tam-brahm bass. I thought this is the sort of life I was born to live.
It was when I went back to the room all the troubles started. I spent nearly an hour searching for the TV power on buttons, after which my inexplicable brain realized that it could be only operated by remote control. Very furious at having lost 20mins of an Argentine football match, I thought of slipping into the cozy sheets to feel better, but looked like my ancestral class had to be shown to me. I felt like some one was screeching into my ears "dude this ain’t where you belong, its only for the rich". The sheets refused to budge, but I wouldn’t give up, what started off as experimental yanks soon went on to become a endless wrestling match between man and the sheets, probably the first of its kind. It looked like Carnatic contortionism without audience. Finally like Hollywood films reiterate that man should always win, I did win. I found a wooden stick in the cupboards with the help of which I had to pole-vault into the sheets and sleep tight. Believe me that was quite a fight.
Next morning, I woke up to see my room filled with all the sunshine. I came out of the frivolous sheets quite easily and slipped into the sweet scented bathroom. To my horror I dint find any L'oreal clad shampoos, rather a highly scented botanical extract with some French thrown on its front-end and back. Should I carry this all the way home? No.nope. I felt I was better off than that. Next up I took a 360deg look to survey all the luxurious fittings, and all I saw was no tap, no bucket and no mug. How do you take a bath without these aristocratic things. Where on earth was I!! How do I wash my clothes? should I shower wash them? The laundry rates looked so ridiculous, I could have bought a new pair of the same designer wear than pay to wash them!
Somehow feeling out of place, I turned on the basin tap to find hot water disgorging like a volcano. Needless to say, I took me a solid 20mins and a mechanical engineering acumen, to realize that the cold water would pour out only when the entire set-up had to be shifted 5cm up for moderate and 10cm up for whoooohhh icy cold water. It still beats me as to why wouldn’t they have a simple ‘left/right’ ‘ hot/cold’ mechanism. duh! The shower mechanism was totally out of my acumen range, as I never understood how to control the water temperature nor the water intensity.
For all the above pain I never got to see those bunny slippers. (Discovery channel blues!!) I felt more congruent in middle-size hotels providing simple facilities and hackneyed bathrooms, where the food prices stay within a 2 digit range, where showers run simple, where a melody and a mango-bite would make your tooth more sweetened than a raw pink American apple and where an Britania biscuit would cost no more than double its MRP. The 5 star experience was slightly unexpected. Probably a few more encounters and I would be a socially acclaimed 5-star clad citizen.