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   Delhi, among other things... (November 22, 1991)

Delhi, among other things, is a city of hotels. As you drive down the roads, you see them, standing aloof and imperious in their private parklands, two Tajs, one Oberoi and one Oberoi-managed, several of the ITDC in red and pink sandstones, looking like governments offices. Which is perfectly all right, since government offices in Delhi look like offices.

Most of the hotels were constructed during the Asian Games, because Indira Gandhi's up-and-coming son was under the impression that people form all over the world would come storming to Delhi to watch the Games. Eventually, not one single person came, and when I say not one single person, I literally mean not one single person.

Now the hotels are waiting for tourists, who also do not come. At least not in large enough members to fill up all the hotels. So, they are now occupied by business from Bombay and Calcutta, and MPs who have not yet been allotted a house. And their facilities, such as French, Italian and tandoori restaurants, and health-clubs and swimming-pools, are used by the local rich, or the sons of the local rich.

The Taj's two hotels are distinguished from each other by the somewhat downmarket titles of Mansingh and Palace. Their major claim to fame, as that of all the other five-star hotels in Delhi, is that no auto-rickshaws are allowed in their premises. So, if you are travelling by an auto-rickshaw, as invariably I am when in Delhi, you either get down on the main road, or at a board which says - "Auto-rickshaw yehan their jaiye", and walk the rest of the way. Personally, I have nothing against this practice, but it does seem rather pointless. I mean, if you build a five-star hotel in a rickshaw city, you suffer the rickshaws.

I have stayed at the Taj Palace, on two separate occasions, for one day each (courtesy; hosts). Unfortunately, you don't feel like you are staying at the Taj. If you want to go about showing-off that you have stayed at the Taj, you have to stay at the Bombay Taj.

I have stayed at the Kanishka once, which is run by the government and operates at the pace of a ration shop. And, during the Asian Games, I was put up at the next-door (next-door to Kanishka) Yatri Niwas, in a room meant for four, though large enough for only one person, and occupied by six of us. Fortunately, we did not have to share the single bathrooms, because there was no water in the bathroom.

 
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