July 30, 2013 by Parthajeet
“This is the bathroom”, the man said as he showed us the room with a dirty red bucket in the centre. All around the bucket I could water.
“This is the bathroom?” I wanted to reconfirm
“No this is the bedroom. This is the bathroom” he said, pointing at the adjoining room. The adjoining room has no ceiling and was a step up and had a water closet and a corner basin. Originally white, both the ceramic basin and water closet had all kinds of stains. Grey stains from a bad plaster job and orange stains from water.
“Oh ok” I managed.
I surveyed the bedroom and saw a matress kept leaning against the wall, held together by the arms of two plastic chairs. At one corner another bed lay, with a mattress laid out and a white bedsheet and a pillow both of which has turned a light grey.
“This is horrible” muttered Abhinav, as he looked up at the ceiling. The ceiling had the rod of a fan, but the blades were missing. The roof was leaking and the bucket was kept in the centre of the room to hold the leaking water.
“I think he wants us to have a bath from the natural shower here” he added, now minching no words in front of the thin man. The thin man shifted a bit, but showed no remorse.
As we had no time, we quickly decided to take the room. We went back to the so called reception to say yes along with the thin man who had shown us the room. As we exited the room, we heard a long soulful tune of a fart. Someone seemed to be regaling in the joy of early morning farts. As we walked on we heard someone else cleaning his innards out after brushing his teeth. Down a side corridor we could see a group of men in their brown jockeys, waiting their turn in front of a common bathroom.
“Chhhaaaaaiiiiiii!” a shout from the thin man jolted me. He was carrying a plastic jug with some plastic cups jutting out of he pockets of his dirty deep maroon short with greyish white linings. He had now changed his voice to sound like the tea vendors in railway stations and was shouting his wares to the farting and gargling gentry.
“Chhhaaaaaaiiiiii…biskooooot!” he bellowed once again as he saw no doors open.
After traversing two dark smelly corridors with no lights we were now back at the reception.
“Hmmm?” the portly man at the reception asked.
“Hmmm.” I replied and shook my head, giving our OK. I had by now learnt his style of conversation. He was a middle aged man, with short thinning hair, looking from above his reading glasses as he held the morning papers in his hand. He had paan in his mouth or so he pretended and conversed only in Hmms and sign languages.
“Hmmm?” I asked him gesturing money with my hand.
He showed me two fingers.
Two hundred rupees for 1 hour, just to freshen up, for two of us. Not a bad deal I thought, if we managed the courage to use the roach infested bathroom. We had arrived at 6 am by train and Deluxe Hotel was the only hotel which was open near the railway station at this hour. These were early days of entrepreneurship in 2003 and I sensed this was part of what being frugal was all about in entrepreneurship.
“Hmmm!” I said and nodded my head again, saying yes to room no 213, called the deluxe room by the thin man. Even till date I still wonder if he was having a bit of early morning fun by calling it the deluxe room.