When you were just on the verge of sleep in a strange hostel and a stranger wakes you up and asks you if you want to join them and he was totally naked except for a towel around his waist, that’s a whole different story.
I have a love-hate relationship with hotels. I’m never comfortable sleeping in somebody else’s bed and using someone else’s bathroom but traveling leaves you no choice most of the time. Hotels are an important part of traveling unless you want to camp out on the road or sleep in a bus terminal.
We were heading to this hostel my buddy booked near the train station in New Delhi. After five hours of being cramped inside a plane, all I wanted was a warm shower, a soft fresh bed, and sweet sleep. As our hired car navigated the narrow and still crowded streets even past midnight, I began to question my decision of letting my buddy make the booking.
I always book my hotels and most of the time I go for affordable, mid-level range accommodations. I don’t see the point of paying so much when I’ll be out most of the day or night, and all I needed was a clean and comfortable place to sleep in for a few hours.
Our room was on the third floor and we had to navigate a steep flight of stairs as there was no elevator. The hallway was narrow. It was more like a college dorm, and some of the doors were open. People even peeked and waved at us as we passed by on the way to the very last room down the corridor.
The hostel, I learned, was most popular for backpackers and groups.
It took us a lot of effort before we finally yanked the old padlock open. The room provided the basics with a bed covered with a worn mattress and a couch. I know a clean bathroom was too much to expect from that time. The walls were thin and the noise and music from other occupants in adjacent rooms were impossible to ignore.
After a quick shower, I crawled into bed hoping to sleep it all off and get out of there the next morning.
Just when I was drifting off, there was a knock at the door. I tried to ignore it but whoever was on the other side wasn’t planning to go away. My buddy was in the shower so I stumbled out of bed and opened the door just a crack. Yeah, there was a peephole but forget it.
Whoever made those peepholes in hotels was not thinking that shorter people do exist. I have yet to check into a hotel where I can look through the peephole without dragging a chair to stand on it.
A guy from the adjacent room was standing outside and he asked me if we wanted to join them next door.
Shocked and stumped, I asked, “We what in the what???”
I was not quite sure if I heard him right and I was not sure if this was how friendly people act in a hostel. When you were just on the verge of sleep and a stranger wakes you up and asks you a question and a strange guy was wearing nothing except for a towel wrapped around his waist, that’s a whole different story.
Seeing my expression, he stammered, “Uh- oh, I’m so sorry. I mean, your partner. Maybe he wants to join us?”
“The who?” I asked blankly.
He suddenly looked uncomfortable and embarrassed and then blurted out, “Oh, I thought you were an open couple and…” his voice trailed off.
“We’re not open and we’re not a couple! I quipped, “and he’s in the shower. I’ll ask him,” I shut the door before he can say anything else and went back to bed.
The noise next door went on forever but thankfully, I was so sleepy and tired I drifted off to dreamland fast.
It took us forever to check out the next morning because the receptionist went out. We waited in the lobby where there were people stretched out on the floor and on the benches sleeping.
There are some hotels that make one totally comfortable and at home but there are others whose memories you would want to blot out from your memory forever. As some say, if you want to feel at home, go home.
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