New Delhi. Two men. Two sledge hammers and four helpers…containing overheads in the redevelopment of a corner site.
The benefits gained by the developers will be measured in crores of rupees…the costs to the labourers in low wages, respiratory disease and short lifespans. Is it equitable?
Hey! Tell me. How is it possible to be allocated a decent room in hotels? I am thinking there is some strange logic at work in the mind of hoteliers after staying in over three hundred hotels during the last four years and only being allocated a decent room on arrival … Well, I can count the times on two hands with fingers left over.
In three and four star hotels, I have been offered rooms with broken doors, broken showers and falling down curtains. Rooms with great patches missing in carpets where hapless guests have tried to do their ironing. Rooms above kitchens and, once, I booked a room with a view, only to draw back the curtains and see … the hotel car park. Another time, in a well known five star establishment in Singapore, my partner and I were given a dank courtyard room with malfunctioning a/c, damp atmosphere, condensation running down the windows, broken furniture and fittings and a leaking toilet. Management were not responsive to my complaints and Tripadvisor declined my review that simply listed the faults in the room. This treatment is not unusual.
Many people suggest it Is because I book through Expedia but I have suffered the same fate when booking through Hotel websites. There is something more going on.
At times I believe folk are just being plain judgemental and at others, when I am feeling more charitable, that their hotel REALLY IS fully booked! So it’s late in the evening; can all those empty rooms really be waiting for Loyalty Card members? What logic is it that condemns guests to the worst rooms while leaving decent rooms empty all night?
Sometimes, though, it all comes good … And the room is actually as advertised
These thoughts pass through my mind
Enticing photos lure me
To palm fringed beaches
Or pristine, modern rooms
Images help my mind create
A picture … A dream.
This dream I call Reality.
The advertising agency has worked
So why does my heart so often sink?
I turn the key to find my room
Is small and dark
My beach, too, so different.
A thin and straggling strand
Between a highway and the sea.
I consider my dream reality … Truth
But what truth?
Is truth a picture strongly filtered
With all around omitted?
Is truth the bigger picture
the ad man’s dream?
There can only be one answer …
My Truth is that, which I experience:
The Holy, Present NOW
Back in the skies and on my way to India
Returning to Delhi for three months …
To learn about life …
To learn a new language …
Three months …
Long enough to reflect again on cultural and personal baggage …
Shed a few habits
Leave behind impatience and disbelief …
Develop more compassion for self and others …
The ongoing process of living
Wednesday 19 December 2012. Sometime during the night between Los Angeles and Brisbane we crossed the International Date Line and the Equator in quick succession. Sleeping, I had passed from West to East and North to South in a matter of minutes. Waking, I reflected on my Eurocentric view of the world and the relative nature of time and place.
Way out of my comfort zone … away from things familiar … I was moving towards the furthest extreme of my journey … Christchurch, New Zealand … where I would find familiar faces. For me … Paradox … even though I will travel far from home I anticipate finding something familiar to anchor me in the present. I feel reassured. I dream on … in the comfort of my flat bed in the darkened cabin.
The landing in Brisbane was smooth and the passage through immigration surprisingly quick. The previous year I had been taken aside to join a short line of travellers and their bags to be given the once-over by Lucy the sniffer dog. She had no interest in any of us. If travelling for six weeks in the States has taught me anything it is this: To be open to my experience of the present and leave my beliefs about the world at home … or prepare to have them challenged. Needless to say, I had been anticipating another meeting with Lucy … so much unnecessary, excess mental baggage …
With less than twenty four hours to go before departure … time to print off boarding passes. We were ready to go… or were we? Something caught my eye. I was neatly folding the two pieces of paper … Each into three … I felt my heart sink. What did i see? Oh no! The travel agent had made both our flight bookings with the same surname. While we might be a couple we still have our different identities … and there is no way the airline would let one of us board with the wrong surname on their system. Our whole Round the World trip could now be thrown into disarray by this one, small mistake … anxiety levels creeping up …
British Airways offer good support when they are able to … And in this case they were able to. It took over half an hour for the helpline agent to sort the problem … Long periods on hold … short bursts of connection … conversation … and the dull clack clack clack of a computer keyboard working in the background. My heart raced and my breathing became erratic as I fought to contain the anger that could, so easily, be misdirected at this helpful person. Finally it was done and my bodily systems came down from high alert to relaxation … I needed sugar …
Some hours later, sitting on an American Airlines plane bound for Boston, there was time to reflect. Relationships of trust can be broken by small matters. It’s often the small things in life that cause much grief.
Note to self: don’t make assumptions and always check the details.
"A journey of a thousand li starts beneath one’s feet" … and just now my feet are itching … I feel ready to go. My bags ain't packed and I feel the process of finally letting go grinding slowly on. Letting go of what? My attachment to home and safe surroundings – of all the things, places and people I know so well? Probably … but there are many questions, too … like "Why would I want to go on a journey of a thousand li?" Well, I guess I have to find out … to look and experience the world for myself. So, deep breath … just four more days before departure.