Our luxurious holiday came to an end, unscathed. As we left Rajasthan, our faces looked content. Little did we know the Universe had been conspiring against us and the next 24 hours would leave us like a basket of ruffled feathers. We missed our connecting flight from Delhi to Pune. The flight from Rajasthan took off late. It all started after we realized the next connecting flight was only 24 hours away.

Faces fell while I restrained the urge to pick a fight with the husband who had unknowingly signed into the marital contract to double up as a punching bag on such select moments in life. That’s the real meaning of the words “I do”. But I took a deep breath in and sustained the shock. For a moment we felt all lucky since the ground staff directed us over to a day’s stay at Centaur Hotel (the brand that resonated with luxury during our childhood). We instantly ran for a check in.

Now, my dear friends, welcome to the Hotel of Misadventures…. (With Eagles playing in the background) What a lovely day…. What a rattling stay!! Plenty of room at the Hotel of Misadventures…

We receive keys that aren’t digital. We somehow manage to unlock the door after a 15min struggle at what may look like some crooks attempting a bank robbery. And as we are all set to heave a sigh of relief, the door slams open into a room, the likes of which I have never experienced before. Dusty countertops, dusty windowpanes, dusty lamps and did I miss out the all brown, never once before washed bed linen!! With the anger fluid in the corner of my brain rising at crazy speeds, I ask my family to evacuate, immediately. I dawn the role of the FBI and with a cushion in one hand, I beat the crap out of the bed and its surroundings. The dust rises up in the air like fermented Dosa batter and settles down exactly like my husband, without a bother.

That erupts the volcano within. The family is back in the room and they are not allowed to touch or leave fingerprints anywhere, lest they catch HFMD (the kiasu factor that comes bundled with the perks of living in lah lah land). I move hastily like some Bandit Queen, rummaging luggage and pulling out all pieces of shawls and scarves that can cover that 5 by 6 feet area infested with infections left by virile souls that graced the room before us. They call it the ‘BED’ and they expect us to indulge in a good night’s slumber dreaming of the Lake Palace Hotel in Rajasthan!! At that point I feel like my 10 year old daughter… I go ‘Dah..’ in my mind. Life can be so contrasting at times; it bounces you up on cloud 9 at one moment and drops u with a bang the next!!

As I continue my activity of this cleanliness obsessed woman (by the way every woman comes hard wired with this disease for an immaculately clean dwelling while men miss out on it totally) containing my fury, the husband who has played the voiceless furniture so far, opens his mouth to talk. He says, “ It isn’t dirty!! It’s just not 5 star!!”

That’s when a big fight follows; like the biggest one we ever had, till that moment; if you know what I mean. And somehow, he becomes responsible for everything from a delayed take off to crazy timings between connecting flights to the ill maintained hotel rooms, etc. It also makes up for an excuse to nudge him about his weight. It sounds insane now, but back then, my temper could have helped some Emperor win a war.

As we merely settle down, my guard is still on and I warn the kids not to change into nightwear for fear of carrying bugs back home. The husband shrugs his shoulders and gestures me with a mere roll of eyes, “It’s winter, there are no bugs in winter”. He is tired and wants to plunk himself in front of the idiot box to kill time. I on the other hand cannot accept we have been dumped into a room that is creeping me out by the second. The girls are clueless. They just follow orders.

We are dying of thirst right now and mineral water bottles are nowhere in sight. The room service is more than happy to inform me that their filter water is better than those bottled waters. I quickly order a crate of soft drinks of all colors and summon kids to an extended vacation – this time with respect to food and drinks only. The only way to end my saga and unending fights with the better half (only for putting up with my tantrums) is to take a tour of the Capital city. We spare no corner of town marching from Connaught Place to India Gate till we tire ourselves out; the only antidote to the dust and odor smacked room that will help us snore through the night. We shop a new suitcase to dump the clothes we are in right now and drown them in acid the minute we land in Pune.

By mid afternoon we are famished and hastily enter a 5 star hotel to feast on lunch and help bowel movement. Our most comfortable room came with so many brownie points, we never made it past the bathroom door. All fresh and rejuvenated post lunch and perfumed and glamorous bathrooms, we take the day in good stride. It’s now 8pm and beyond my girls to stay out anymore. So we retire to our abandoned nest. We now realize the bed is too small to fit 4 adult size humans adding another half due to the size of the better half. So once again I call room service anticipating some creative excuse for not being able to help.

Miraculously, they send us a sofa. I am delighted, only until it arrives. It looks so appealing that I think even my husband deserves better. So it gets moved out instantly and sits there in the passageway forever. We now demand a new room for the lack of many things that cannot be fixed even after being put on a 5 year plan. The room service gives up and passes to us a key under the table. There is no entry made in any register, leave alone some computer system and we quickly make the shift to the 11th floor.

At around 10pm, I give up too. My brain needs a break. So we squeeze into that bed, the 4 of us, just like we used to snuggle when the girls were little; at least we don’t need to use the murky, dingy quilts now. We can warm one another up. And as I dream away into bugs and torture and being strangled by metal chains crying for help, (“Bachao, Bachao!!”); my 6th sense eternally on the guard hears a knock. Actually, I hear somebody trying to unlock the room. I sit up, all afraid. It’s past midnight. In my mind, I think of all sorts of crimes that Delhi has witnessed and think there is somebody out there, waiting to kill us. I wake my husband up.

But he is probably dreaming away of Lake Palace or the afternoon at the 5 star hotel; sigh!! I literally shake him up only to hear, “Sleep, it’s nobody!!” Then, in the next minute he is up too. There is a voice that speaks from outside, “Yeh mera kamra hai” (this is my room). Hubby shouts back saying, “this is my room”. They bay back and forth for some time until hubby decides to get out of the room to resolve matters – man to man. I hold him back warning him the guy may be armed. Backed by fluid imagination, I my eyes can already see a shimmering 10inch knife ready to cut through the flesh of my beloved. I pass him the butter knife covered with dust, and for once I think the dust shall spread germs in the blood stream of this cold blooded murderer. I smile like a witch.

But men are men. So my man walks out and in exactly 10minutes while my heart races and palpitations garner pace, my man is back beneath the sheets, snoring away. The outsider also seems to have left peacefully. At this point, I am forced to believe, the man is seriously capable of dealing with people and apply brakes to my imagination. No wonder he can sell. I sleep as well.

The next morning, we take no chances, wake up sooner than needed, and check out. We trust the washrooms at the airports with our lives by now. Phew!! It’s only once the flight takes off, we are belted and sipping some orange juice and the plane is hanging in mid-air for about 15 minutes that I let me hair down and smile back at him!! “Thanks for Rajasthan; I love you.. to Centaur and back”. He rolls his eyes again and orders a wine.