A bright hotel dimmed by the outside
Okay so at 1am in the morning our first impression of The Hotel Bright wasn’t too well, er, bright.
Our driver Prakash helped us out with the bags, and the three of us stared at the narrow staircase leading who knew where.
At least we have Prakash and the car I thought.
Prakash was at Delhi airport to meet us, a clean-cut looking gentleman, with gold and ruby earrings in his ears. No turban, nor beard, a relief for the nervous tween who related more to bling than beards. Both of us followed blindly behind him as he marched off with our luggage trolley, until we noticed where we were. We were in the middle of the kerbside lane, the airport traffic weaving around us. We jumped up onto the kerb, stalking Prakash from the side, who still as happy as a clam, continued to storm the traffic until he found a sloping access point to the kerb and pushed the trolley up into the car park. We had a four-wheel drive, clean and comfortable, and made our way to our hotel at Connaught Place.
Prakash got us to our street, but couldn’t find the hotel. This is of course is when you start to doubt the hotel even exists, especially when you have booked it over the net. He eventually stopped the car and got out to ask someone.
That’s precisely the moment when the teen had her first raw experience of India. An old woman dressed in a ragged old sari tapped on her window, frightening the life out of her. Clutched in her gnarled, withered hand was a cluster of sagging balloons, she pointed to her mouth with her other hand.
“What does she want mummy?”
Funny, but my immediate thought was that the teen hadn’t called me “mummy” for what seemed years. Clearly, this was a “mummy” moment.
“Food darling, she wants you to buy a balloon so she’ll have money for food. But you know we are not giving it to her.”
I had already explained to the teen that we would be ignoring all pleas from beggars.
“It will be a never ending trauma if we don’t,” I said. “You smile, say no thank you, and look straight ahead.”
The teen followed procedure, but I could tell her peripheral vision was working overtime, as the woman continued her tapping and pointing to her mouth.
Prakash returned to the car.
“No problem madam, your hotel is just back up the road.”
Now here we were at the bottom of a very dodgy looking stairwell. Well, there’s no way but up from here, I quietly rationalised. With my new very best friend Prakash following behind we made our way up two flights of narrow stairs to arrive on a landing sporting a sofa encrusted with dirt and cratered with huge holes. Graffiti adorned the walls, until we looked closer and realised it was actually the address of the hotel scrawled across the wall. Either way, It was not looking good, and the already very stressed teen was starting to panic.
Was the landing our room? The sofa our bed? Funny the things that pop into your head at 1am in a hotel in Delhi you booked over the Internet.
We saw a door ahead, stepped through and our despair turned to hope. Inside was a simple, but clean foyer, where a sleepy attendant stood to his feet and called the boss. An officious looking man and a porter bustled in and after filling in our paperwork and arranging to meet Prakash at 10am the next morning we followed the porter to our room and it was delightful. The first thing the teen noted was the”normal toilet”, the second that there was free wi-fi. I noticed the shower and the toiletries. My gamble on the net had paid off.
We fell into bed, but sleep was elusive as I contemplated the huge challenge ahead.