What is it that you love about hotels? The service, the food or the décor? If you have travelled abroad — mostly to the US or Europe — you should be delighted about our hospitality industry. Our service rates as highly as does the luxury of our hotel rooms — in size, amenities and comfort. Sometimes of course, the city puts a touch of class to it.
Now, if you are ensconced in a five-star hotel in Mumbai, great. Or the rooms can get New Yorkish — in other words, possibly more compact than the ones which are similar to those in Nashville where you can play a mini IPL match! Real estate being the mother of all gods in Mumbai, it is surprising that rooms are still great in five-star hotels and beat the Big Apple to death. But if you have ever had the misfortune of checking into one of the three- of four-star hotels in Mumbai, particularly the lesser-known ones which are very reasonable and do brisk business when training programmes are held in it and you choose to inhabit that hotel for that reason alone, I would suggest you carry what I call, the ‘Homemaker’s Kit’. In fact, I am so convinced about it, I am thinking of patenting it.
Imagine, after a long day of work meetings in Mumbai, you are preparing to call it a night — dying to check into your hotel room where you can finally get some sleep and rejuvenate. Of course, given that time flies in Mumbai, you check in around 10.30pm, finally your luggage arrives, and you bolt the door. You freshen up and prepare to dive into the comfortable bed… and then you want to scream! The seemingly tidy room of a four-star hotel has a bed that looks slept in, pillows that stink of perspiration, carpet that smells musty, and a bathroom that sports all kinds of indecipherable pieces of garbage. Unbelievable!
By now you may have already guessed the contents of my ‘Homemaker’s Kit’ which can be very handy if you travel and stay in hotels. But mind you, one can’t fault the hotels. Imagine the number of visitors coming in to the city every day. Compare that with the rising cost of labour. Now, almost all hotels go full during weekdays. The room rates are ridiculous, and the speed at which everyone within the hotel has to work and please their guests, is equally nasty. Maybe iRobots are the answer to Mumbai’s hygiene conditions — within the hotels and outside as well. I had begun to think that we are already on the brink of an Advanced Age of Hygiene and Sanitation. But Mumbai reminds you that the housekeeping practices remain archaic — and the familiar stench of rotting sewage still stands out more than the beauty of the New Sea Link Bridge.
Some may even argue: Do you really vacuum your home, change your bed sheets, use new pillowcases, replace soiled towels, polish your bathroom and spray room freshener in your air conditioned, carpeted, bedroom every day? Do you even have an air-conditioned, carpeted bedroom with a mini bar? Most probably not, so why do you become the Ms Universe of Hygiene when you check into a hotel? Good questions — but nobody is really going to bother to answer them.
I guess the truth is out there — right where you live. In our homes, squalor, grime, filth, muck, poor housekeeping and even lack of luxuries is kind of endearing. There is a homey-ness about not being perfect, not keeping house all the time, and not tidying up routinely like a maid. We are comfortable and tolerant of our own mess, because it has our signature and odour in it. But outside, it is a tale of great duress. Who wants to find human hair, black marks, sweat stains, or dust clouds in a twelve-square-foot hotel room? Not me, nor you. You could make a big deal about it. Or just remember, it is the curse of a big, busy, boastful city. Yeah, Mum is the word. And you always have a choice. Carry a ‘Homemaker’s Kit’.
The writer is a communication specialist.