It isn’t worth writing a bad review of Balaji Bhavan hotel in Dwarka. You wouldn’t be able to stay there even if you wanted to. And you would want to, until you’ve finished reading this that is.
It’s a new hotel in the centre of Dwarka, very clean and well furnished compared to it’s competition, and my room on the top floor with double bed, shower and toilet, desk and balcony, has cost me just Rs150/night (around £2), but it doesn’t accommodate tourists. Not even Indians. My stay here was only allowed by invitation, a reference from a very serious and proud young man whom I met on the bus into town.
This morning the manager came to tell me that the hotel was fully booked from the next day, but he would arrange other accommodation for me. He was genial and interested in talking to me about England, particularly matters surrounding marriage and casual sex (a big no no here).
“In India, we have only one woman. No playing before marriage. In England, you play with many women.”
I told him that was true, though some people are more discerning than others.
“Sometimes, here, young boys play before they married. Sometimes friends, sometimes sex workers. You have sex workers in England?”
“Every country has sex workers”, I said, “but it is illegal in England”.
“In Mumbai it is legal! There is area with prices on doors, and licenses! Rs100 for low quality, Rs1000 for best quality, all night.”
He seemed pretty knowledgeable on this subject, though he spoke about the practice with the air of disdain that you would expect of a proud Hindu addressing a foreigner in his hotel.
“Here, when we married, we not play with other people. Sex has emotion. And if my wife has low IQ, I take care her. In England, after one, two years of marriage, you leave your wife.”
Again I said that this was common, but aware that there might be benefits to pleasing him, I stressed my appreciation of Indian values, saying that we are not completely depraved in England, and assuring him that for those who have one, our moral code is actually very similar to theirs.
He seemed pleased. We Brits have a very bad rep over here: though respected, we’re seen as sex-crazed alcoholics, individualists spreading the seeds of immorality into god-fearing countries through our new colonial weapon, commercialism, we are Americans with culture, and here he had one staying in his very own, practically private hotel! I saw this conversation as an interview, and I passed, for afterwards he showed me to a smaller, less furnished room, and told me that while the hotel was booked, I could stay there.
Pleased, I went back to my room and he followed me, still talking. Then, suddenly, he patted my crotch and asked me if I wanted to “make homosex”!
The conniving old bastard! He wasn’t seeing how moral I was, he was testing the water to see how filthy I was! All that talk of marriage and one partner and now he wanted to “make homosex” with a young white boy in the room above his own, where his wife and children were at that very moment!
So shocked I couldn’t quite muster outrage, I had been relaxed, groomed, I had dropped my guard and all I had in response to this punch in the guts was a firm “No”.
He looked fat and perverted now where he had seemed respectable, and trying to appear as if nothing had happened (and doing a bloody good job of it), he made some nervous small talk as he moved toward the door and then, smiling politely but without feeling – as only hoteliers can – like the snake from the Jungle Book, he slithered out.
It was a new feeling for me and I stood still trying to digest it. I imagined all the women who face this sort of attention from their employers every day and how they must feel: humiliated, angry, uncertain of how to deal with it.
I knew how to deal with it, and I packed my bags and left with socks flapping from my rucksack, like the uprooted flags of the British waving in the wind as they travelled home without ceremony back in 1947.