Dinner is a simple affair for us folks on the project site. “Site” here is a euphemistic reference to Moonupeedika, where we are hosted by the client. To the left of the town is a large swathe of nothingness. On the right is an exciting quantum of nothingness. Sandwiched between all this nothingness is our oasis. Moonupeedika, as we were told by an overtly helpful local, translates to “3 shops”. We aren’t sure how old the town is, but there still are only 3 shops in the town. If forethought was of any consequence, the town founders would have named it Noorupeedika perhaps – 100 shops.
We returned to our oasis, proudly called “Chand ‘V’ Regency” at the regulation time of 8 pm. The single quote surrounding the ‘V’ in the hotel’s name is of much intrigue to me. Were they punning on ‘V’? Does it have a deeper meaning that we folks missed out? On the atrium (20 ft X 20 ft) wall is plastered a rather larger-than-life photo of a gentlemanly looking male form of the human species. I presume the hotel’s legacy and balance sheet stems out of him. My suggestion, as is the want of any consultant’s to offer freely, to place the photo in the attic behind shoe boxes and see a 30% increase in revenue was not taken well by the hotel management. My laundry comes back dirtier than the form it is given in, thanks to the free advice.
Today has been a different evening at the hotel, from the usual sleepiness it carries about itself. The hotel is hosting a birthday party! A birthday party of some sorts I would say. I never would imagine that Moonupeedika could rock ‘n’ roll, and how! The sound spreads across the entire atrium and all other confines of the hotel. The occupant of the frame on the wall seems to smugly enjoy the show. Walking along the corridors, the vibrations in the feet told us clearly that the people partying meant business. Asking the colleague / project manager / friend, to come down for dinner had me saying “l.. llll ee ttt’s ggggo pphor dinner”. Vibrations, I tell you!
The dinner hall has its usual customers. None. The staff of 6 that does the cooking and waiting on the customers go about business as usual. The true effect of the party can be felt here. Its just a few inches of concrete and a false ceiling the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro that separates us from the party people. Songs, an eclectic mix, are being belted out of some very loud speakers. Eclectic because they started off with a Michael Jackson number and shifted gears to a few Malayalam numbers. Before we knew, the partying troupe launched an attack on the latest Hindi numbers – Farhan Akhtar’s Don and Kajol’s comeback vehicle (one tyre short) Fanaa. Then came the surprise – Hotel California. The vibrations in the walls came down by one seismic level and we could hear meaningful sing-alongs drowning the music player. My colleague, one who believes only sea food is real food, found her focus on the fish atleast. All other food items are for the fish to consume and become sea food to her, she believes. I don’t argue much. My project-end appraisal will be carried out by her.
Retro was brought back from the past with a press of a button (or a turn of the table; just couldn’t say). As we walked back to our respective rooms, to the tune of Khaike Paan Banaras wala, there was a flash in the corridor. A photographer. It wasn’t him who flashed but the camera – thankfully! Tomorrow, I shall wake up earlier than usual and run down to fetch the morning Moonupeedika Times. My first page 3 photo, anywhere!