Balti Towers

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Thursday, January 13, 2011

An eleven hour night bus, arriving in Janakpur at five thirty in the morning.
A twenty minute rickshaw ride through the pre-dawn streets to a hotel that was, like the rest of the town, still asleep.
A three hour kip, freezing, in a different, woken hotel.
A day of six Janakpurian temples and a women's artist commune - back in the freezing bed by half seven.
Up at five for an eight hour bone-rattler of a bus to the Indian border.
A pleasant walk across a bridges - another border crossed.
Another two hours in a cramped bus to a nondescript Indian town.
All to arrive at the most hilariously inhospitable hotel.

There should be a sit-com made about a small hotel with an angry manager and his incompetent staff. Episode 1 could run something like this:

Scene 1 - The Check-In
Two weary travellers arrive at the hotel reception and attempt to check-in

Do you have a room?
Yes. The super-deluxe A/C with breakfast inc.
Do you have any other rooms?
What about this one (pointing to the cheapest standard non-A/C on the price list)?
What time you check-out?
We don't know? What time is check-out normally?
Well, we'll check out at 12 then.
No room?
What time would you like us to check out?
OK. We'll check out at 9 then.
OK room?

Scene 2 - The Shower
The weary travellers find there is no hot water in their shower and address the floor's room service "concierge"

There is no hot water.
No hot water?
No hot water...The shower. No hot water.
Have you turned hot tap?
Er, yes.
You have turned?
No hot water?

The concierge inspects the shower, turns all the taps on and off, on and off and on, and is surprised to find no hot water. He inspects the heater, switches it on and off. No hot water.

You wait 20 minutes.


Twenty minutes later, having made absolutely no attempt to address the issue, the concierge is surprised to find two weary travellers explaining that there is still no hot water.

No hot water?

The concierge inspects the shower, turns all the taps on and off, on and off and on, and is surprised to find no hot water.

Look we just want to have a shower and go to bed. Can we just use a shower in a different room and then we can go to sleep?
The hotel is full?
There is not a single other room where we can use to take a quick shower?
Can we just get a bucket of hot water from the kitchen so we can have a wash?
Look we've had a long day. We've been on a bus for over ten hours. We've been up since five. It's now, it's now quarter to eleven. We haven't had a shower, a hot shower for over a month. This is an expensive hotel and for some reason we've got to check out in a little over ten hours. We just want a hot shower before we go to bed. Is there no other shower room we can use?
OK. OK. You wait.

The weary travellers wait whilst the concierge goes off for a minute, then returns.

OK. You change rooms.
Look we don't want to change rooms. We've already unpacked. We just want a shower.
OK. You change rooms.
So their are other rooms free?
You change rooms. OK.
OK. Can we just check that there is hot water there before we move all our stuff.

There is no hot water in the alternative room. The concierge turns on all the taps. Turns them off again. Turns them on and off and on and leaves the water running into a plastic bucket.

OK. You move your baggage. Hot water will come.

The weary travellers go back to their original room, repack their bags, move, and are unsurprised to find the water running into the plastic bucket is still cold. They fetch the long-suffering concierge.

There is still no hot water.
No hot water?
No. Is there any hot water in the rest of the hotel?
Hot water? Yes. Of course.
There is none here, there is none there. Look, can we just have a bucket from the kitchen so we can have a wash?

The concierge inspects the taps once more and finding the water is still cold he stands upright, steps back a pace, then violently kicks the plastic bucket. Cold water explodes across the bathroom and splashes one of the weary travellers who is so shocked by the sudden violence he is unable to react.

You call me downstairs.
You call me downstairs.
You want me to phone down to reception?
No. You call me downstairs.
I call you downstairs?
You want me to go down to reception and phone you from there?
Hot water.

Scene 3 - The Reception
A weary traveller goes down to reception to complain about the lack of hot water in the showers
There is no hot water.

The hotel manager looks up from the television set.

There is no hot water. The guy said something about calling him from here, I don't know. There's just no hot water.

The manager says, in a tone that is beyond exasperation, beyond mere anger but filled instead with a strain of malicious hatred.

We've already given you another room!

What more do you want? he does not need to add.

Yes, but...oh never mind.

Scene 4 - The Check-Out
At five to nine, two even more weary travellers come down to reception to check out.
The reception is empty. The foyer is empty. The hotel is still asleep. There will be nothing happening today.  No flurry of cleaning and laundry and new linen laid on freshened beds. No wedding party arriving to fill the restaurant. There will be no big group checking in at ten o'clock. All the rooms will remain empty and the weary travellers could have slept until twelve and it would not have made a jot of difference..
One of the weary travellers walks through the empty restaurant, through the deserted kitchen, pops his head into a store room, into the managers office - empty. Returning to the reception he disturbs the concierge asleep under a blanket on the floor behind the desk.

We would like to check out.

The concierge finally presents a bill for the nights accommodation.

We had food at the restaurant last night. We still have to pay for that too.
Last night we ate at the restaurant and they put it on the room bill.
The restaurant. Last night. Our food. We have to pay you.

The weary travellers give up and remove some notes to pay for the room. In the meantime the concierge consults a folder behind the desk and suddenly stands up waving a receipt.

You must pay for food! Restaurant bill! and turning to a porter who has appeared by his side he looks at him as if to say these cheeky foreign bastards were about to walk out of here without paying for their food.

Once all the paperwork is signed and sealed, the envelope including the paid bill for the room, the restaurant and a complimentary slip hoping the weary travellers had had a pleasant stay, the weary travellers ask if they can leave their backpacks in the locked room advertised until their train leaves later that day. They are told to leave them unlocked behind the reception counter.

Scene 5 - Collecting the Bags
Two weary travellers return to the hotel to collect their bags. On the pavement outside the main entrance a huge argument is in progress between the concierge and another unreasonable guest which threatens to descend into fisticuffs. The weary travellers walk past the brewing brawl, past the hotel manager at the reception desk who does not acknowledge them, pick up their heavy backpacks, and then address their host.

I am sorry our visit has been such an inconvenience for you.
OK. says the manager and returns to his sit-com.

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