June 5, 2008

Room Service

While traveling to smaller cities (towns?) than Delhi, one comes across so many things that were sucked in by the 1980’s. Usually referred to as the ‘The decade of decadence’, everything sucked in the 80’s- the music, the films, the clothes and majority of the people in them. The funny thing about nostalgia is it’s inept ability to bring a smile to your face. If you want to be in nostalgia overdrive I suggest a visit to places that still offer 23 minutes computerized photo processing service amongst other things!
The recent visit to Srinagar saw me putting up in a hotel called Lakeview Centaur. The building is supposed to be designed by the legendary Joseph Stein. Stein had worked on something that eventually became the Kashmir Conference Centre. The building is signature Stein set in ‘Grey and slates’, as claimed by the hotel’s website. The property was converted into a hotel in the mid 80’s (aha!).

If there were ever an example of being stuck in some time wrap then the Lakeview would be the ace of the pack! The words that came to my mind the moment I entered the joint were
Kabul Hotel. This is what some war-ravaged country’s best hotel would look like if pushed too hard. The place was huge. Too huge. We were all given rooms in the opposite corners of the hotel. Walking to a particular room along the long empty corridors made you feel like Jack Torrance from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining! The only difference was that this place had room service.

The oddly strong communist era hangover was too palpable after a point. The neat straight lines of the buildings look so out of place if you have the picturesque Dal Lake on three sides of the hotel. Only yours truly didn’t have a view of the lake from the room. Could it be that the staff knew what the city slicker I was? The hotel had a swimming pool but it was empty. I couldn’t help but wonder when do people swim in Kashmir?
The month of May was like November in Delhi. The bare pool with the barrack like rooms in the background made the whole darn place look straight out of some newsreel yodeling about some erstwhile communist giant. There were other signs too. There were two empty pots in the middle of the stairs to collect water dripping from the ceiling; the long out fashion huge key chains; strange disco lights in the hallway- all indicators of the place being cut-off from reality.

But wait reality had another representative in the form of a security guard posted being a bunker like thing on vigil 24x7. The sight was so surreal that I didn’t have it in myself to click a snap.

Oh by the way the bunker like thing was covered in blue plastic sheet.

0 Responses to “Room Service”

Post a Comment