I landed up in Gurgaon on 2nd June 2010, after an eight-year stay at my adopted hometown Mumbai. The welcome was not altogether pleasant as it was hot (37 deg C at 8:30 pm in the evening!!), my luggage was the last on the conveyor and I was tired. The tiredness was probably more mental than physical – caused by the psychological effort of moving out of my comfort zone, both in terms of location as well as job.
The hotel, a simple and unpretentious one in Gurgaon called “Bax” (god knows who chose the name), fortunately could provide me a room immediately and also promised that food will be available incase I wish to partake the same. The room was perfect except one near-fatal defect – namely, the air conditioning does not work. To be fair, it switches on, makes a great deal of noise, its flaps move when I press the appropriate switch on the remote and even it displays the temperature. It only refuses to cool down the room temperature!! I suppose some undemanding gentleman would accept this rather than be a terrible bother but at 37 deg C, I couldn’t care less. A quick visit to the reception and a brief eye-to-eye no-nonsense conversation with the receptionist ensured that I was immediately shifted to a different room with an ambiguous assurance that this new room has a “Split AC”. I was too tired to explain that I have no moral objection to window ACs, especially so since I happen to have two of them at my place; my requirement – and this I am rather tiresomely firm about - is that the AC should function. When I say function, I mean there should be a perceptible drop in room temperature once it is switched on. This new room with the “Split AC” which was so highly spoken about, unfortunately did not quite fulfill this demand of mine. For sure, it was better than the previous one but the improvement cannot really be described as substantial. On the other hand, this room had a television whose remote required strong fingers and a very purposeful mind as every button had to be pressed with extremely hard and that too several times. The effect was also somewhat unpredictable as often the channels changed on their own – some sort of a delayed effect of the remote being pressed 15 minutes back.
Having explored all possibilities with the AC and the TV, I picked up the menu card. A call to the room service revealed that only about 5% of the menu is actually available and that too would probably have a waiting period of at least an hour. I chose to have only plain curd – which seemed to be the safest bet amongst the available 5% menu and was promised that this would be delivered in less than an hour. This proved to be true excepting the fact that when the plain curd was delivered, they also delivered two plain parathas with it as "complimentary" . I had a long and desultory conversation with the room service and subsequently with the manager wherein I insisted that I wanted plain curd and just the curd – without any accompaniment of parathas, however tempting they might be; the room service chap maintaining that it is against their policies to serve “just a plain curd” to any of their guests. It seems that it is impossible for an honest and innocent man to have "just plain curd" in this hotel without severely offending the delicate sense of hospitality of the staff.
After this ratherbeventful night, I moved into my new flat on the next day. This part went through like a clock-work. The watchman, a friendly bloke called Mithilesh proved to be one of the most well organized gentlemen I have ever met. Within 5 minutes of me entering the flat, the newspaper-wala was fixed up, housemaid was arranged for, a plumber was sent to check whether there is any leakage and the telephone number of the nearest grocery store was handed over. The aforementioned gentleman, very helpfully, informed me that the grocery store does home delivery and also promised me to introduce to the nearest restaurant who also delivers food at home within a reasonable time. I was seriously contemplating on whether to offer him a job in my previous organization as the facility management head and finally decided not to do as it lead to his losing his entrepreneur spirit and eventually becoming another of those rule-abiding, moss-laden dimwitted nincompoops which only a large conservative organization can produce.
Thus ended my first day in Gurgaon; non-functioning AC, weirdly hospitable waiters and a quick-gun watchman. Let's see what the next days reveal.