Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We wanna change rooms again!

During the final year of my undergraduate studies, I went on a tour to Delhi along with my college mates. It has been one of the most eventful trips I’ve ever been on.
Our agenda was to board the Tamil Nadu express and go to Delhi directly without any stop over. But due to last minute itinerary changes by one of my professors, we got down in Agra in the dead of night. When we reached our hotel in Agra, due to complete lack of sleep, I passed out. However, I regained consciousness in a few minutes when one of my friends handed me a mint. I guess all I needed was a little bit of glucose. As soon as we entered our rooms, we crashed on the bed because we were sure that we would be woken up in a couple of hours by our chaperones.
As luck would have it, we woke up in a few hours, fresh and kicking, for the fun to begin. The ‘fun’ began with each of us drinking a glass of coffee/tea made from camel’s milk (a fact we were unaware of at the time!). We visited the usual suspects in Agra starting with the ever enchanting Taj Mahal. After lunch, the same day, we left for Meerut and subsequently for Jaipur. Speaking about lunch…….. the food on the trip was arranged by my professors. Three cooks accompanied us! Somehow or the other, double beans would land up on our plates during every meal! And I, being a double beans hater, would just pick on the food. Ok. Let me get back on track. In Meerut and Jaipur, we visited two beautiful temples; a Krishna temple and the famous Birla Mandir, respectively.
The journey from Jaipur to Delhi was horrendous. We left Jaipur at around 9 or 10 pm and expected to reach Delhi by 3 the next morning. Our dear driver could not keep his eyes open and stopped the bus at a road side dhaaba. He wanted to sleep off his tiredness for about an hour! So, in the middle of the night with a bus load of girls, the driver just parked the vehicle near a highway dhaaba and caught his forty winks for an hour! None of us could sleep! We had our hearts in our hands till we were on the road again.
By now you must be wondering why I’ve named this article “We wanna change rooms again!”. Hold your horses, I'm getting to that!
We reached Delhi at around 4 am. We weren’t given much time to sleep as we had to get ready by 8. The hotel that we stayed in was called The Heritage. It was quite a good 3 star hotel. A couple of friends and I shared a room. The first room (and I say “first” because we changed 2 rooms after that! More on that, later) that we were given was perfect except for the fact that the bathroom did not lock. We did not mind because there was nothing else wrong with the room. I was the first to have a bath. Both my friends were asleep and so I did not bother to inform them. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, my right foot slipped, my left foot hit the wash basin and my head hit the ground with a resounding thud. I had cut the second toe on my left foot. My friends did not hear me fall down. After a couple of minutes, I managed to get myself together. We weren’t happy with our current room and so asked the hotel authorities to provide us with another one.
The second room was good (?) except that there was no fan or a/c. There was one fan, but it was a wall – mounted one and was really small for the room. We did not mind and so decided to stay there. That day we went to a number of places like Qutub Minar, Raj Ghat and Birla Temple. That night, after dinner, I went up to my room early while my friends were still in the lobby. As I was entering the room, I heard the sound of gushing water. My instincts told me that something was terribly wrong. I opened the door to the bathroom and could not believe my eyes. The entire bathroom was filled with steam and hot water was pouring out of a hole in the wall, where the shower previously existed. It dawned on me just then that if I had entered the bathroom a few minutes in advance, I would have suffered terrible burns. My professors thanked my lucky stars that nothing of the sort happened. Anyway, we had to change rooms again! This time, however, the hotel authorities weren’t as polite as they were the last time in spite of the fact that we weren’t responsible for the turn of events. One room service guy was sent up to ‘assist’ us with our baggage. He just walked in without knocking, rudely picked up our luggage without even asking us and showed us to what would hopefully be our third and final room!
The third room was a class apart. The front door did not lock. I am serious! I am not making this up. I guess we were just destined to get faulty rooms. We were able to lock the door from inside but anyone with a key could open the door; i.e. the hotel authorities, if need be, could open the door with their key. Once again we decided to manage. We barricaded the front door with our suitcases. That is all that we could do.
There was one thing unique to this room. There was a door in one corner of the room. We did not know what it led to. The door looked like a one way mirror. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Humraaz’, you’ll know what I’m talking about. As a matter of fact, the 3 of us had just seen the movie before leaving on this trip. With all the room changing, we were tired and even a little scared to open the door and find out what’s behind it. We could hear weird noises from the other side, which led us to believe that there was something supernatural about it. Or that it indeed was a one – way mirror and that someone is watching us from the other side. We wanted to desperately find out but none of us had the guts to open the door. In the room next to ours, there were 4 of our juniors. Leaving aside our pride, we asked one of them to open the door. When one of those girls was about to open it, the phone that was in the corridor outside our room rang. It echoed across the entire hall. We were already on pins and needles when the door was being opened, and when the phone rang my friend just broke down. It took her a while to calm down. The door was finally opened. It was a balcony! We had got a room with a view! It wasn’t a one way mirror. And those noises were due to pigeons. Thereafter, we slept peacefully.
All jokes apart, now when I look back at my trip to Delhi, I realize that even with all these weird happenings, it was one of most enjoyable trips that I’ve ever been on.