It has been such a long time since I traveled anywhere. My last trip was to Bharatpur this January and before that to Bharmour in December 2005. Nothing seems possible before June now. Before I travel next, what I want to tell is the tale of a hotel from Bharmour.
When we arrived in Bharmour one cold December afternoon, we had no idea where to stay. We were depending on the friendly tout (who turn out to not so friendly at occasions) to direct us to a hotel. When we stepped down the bus, we were the only tourist around (the joys of traveling in the off-season to otherwise crowded places in India) and nobody could have cared less. There were just two roads leading into the sleepy town and we randomly selected one. It took us to this beautiful Chaurasi Temple complex.
A group of men were having tea near the entrance and Seshadri asked them to suggest a hotel room. They pointed out to a building across the road and sent someone in search of the owner. After 15 minutes a young lad came with the keys and my husband went to have a look. We do not look for luxury when it comes to hotel rooms in ‘off the beaten track’ places but Seshadri knows what bare minimum I expect (and that is just one thing, the room should not stink) and this one did not pass the test.
We were told that the Rajdhani Hotel is the best in town and with one person guiding us through shortcuts we headed towards it. However, when we reached the place it was locked and there was not a soul around. After waiting for quite sometime we became impatient and decided to try another place. Our guide took us to a tea house (Dhaba) that rented out a few rooms too. I was not too happy with it (for one, it has no attached baths) but for the time being we decided to dump our luggage there and stuff a few parathas at a dhaba across the road. The owner of that place started chatting with us and we were lamenting the lack of a proper room when suddenly another member having tea there identified himself as the owner of the Rajdhani Hotel! We told him we wanted a room at his place. He was reluctant; he didn’t want to be seen as stealing business from his fellow folks. We assured him we would pay the lady one days rent (it was a pittance by city standards) and then move.
We later moved to the Rajdhani Hotel and we were the only guests. The place had hot water and a basic clean room. But it also gave us something free. We did not feel its presence the first day. Then we left for Hadsar. When we came back to Rajdhani hotel again, Seshadri got up that night and put our bag inside the cupboard, telling me there was something in the room. I was too sleepy to pay him much attention. When I woke up in the morning, I asked him where our bag has vanished. He reminded me to look in the cupboard and as soon as I opened it, a mouse leaped out of it. Seshadri had pack the bag along with the mouse inside the cupboard. I am scared stiff of anything that moves on four or more legs (or without legs, sometimes even of what moves on two legs or a few wheels too) and it jolted me wide awake. The idea that the creature had a free time inside our clothes and stuff did not leave me amused but there was not much I could do. Given the penchant for the kind of the places we visit, I think I will meet one of its folks somewhere again.