~ Swati Sharma
It was the brainchild of the father of the family. Others in the family were his elegant and ruler-straight wife, and two-goody goody sons. So, daddy dear decided to gift his elder son 'Hotel Exquisite' on his twenty-second birthday and prepared the plinth by sending his son for a terrific course in Hotel Management.
I remember I was in school those days when I heard about the coming up of the first wall of their dream project. Spirits were high from day one to complete the hotel as soon as possible. But of course father wanted to be ready when his son was.
The enthusiastic four spent money like nobody's business, along with all their energy and precious time to make their dream come true. Well, money was no problem as it was all ancestral property left for the fools of the family to use to the best of their ability. The only things that mattered were, father started looking overworked and became more and more irritable. His once-upon-a-time black glossy hair turned a classic salt and pepper. The dainty-darling mother had also dived into this adventurous venture to work upon her adored son's future, so a person was engaged to look after this fairy-fair lady. He used to hold an umbrella for madam to protect her still so young skin from the mighty sun. But as time would do, it made her look tanned and older, day-by-day, month-by-month and now it will be appropriate to say year by year. Well now she has a lovely biscuit brown complexion to match her husband's. Sons lost a few kilos but they could spare that as they had enough.
Months rolled by and the four of them became more and more engrossed in work, work and more work. The news in the social circle was that a grand inauguration would take place in a month or so but unfortunately it got pushed further and further away due to, shall we say, unavoidable circumstances! Each of them became the architect, the interior designer and everything that was possible, although professionals were engaged for their respective tasks. A couple of them had also had tiffs with Mr. Irritable and left their tasks midway on grounds of not being allowed to use much of their skills and talents. If any of the foursome intervened too much into their work they would announce that the building would come down if they did not follow certain norms. That got the bubbly foursome to toe the line.
On the work scene, this is what used to happen mostly: In the morning father would make sure that the lobby walls were painted yellow and get the work started, but when he returned in the evening he would turn yellow with rage and disappointment all at the same time. The colour of the walls had changed from yellow to cream, naturally Mr. Ill- tempered would shriek and yell at the poor worker who had been sweating it out all day, “You colour-blind fellow!”
In return the supposedly colour-blind fellow would just give him queer looks for the moment, then grasping what is said to him, start grumbling, “How do I know? It's you people who keep changing your minds… Madam had come in the afternoon and she gave us fresh instructions.”
“Oh! Damn those fresh instructions. So madam is the culprit,” yelled the disheartened fellow. How hurt father felt, when white was splashed over his colourful dreams!
Anyway, on the dinner table each night, a new argument broiled. Generally, the elder son took over and told everybody to relax, promising to set the matter right the other day, obviously his own way! He felt victorious. After all he was the future boss!
The next morning, fresh brown stripes were painted on the same wall, reflecting the future boss's preference! Happy he was till his parents walked in… Both of them screamed at him, while the hopeful son tried to convince them, “…but I thought it would go well with the brown door and window-frames.”
Father was most disheartened, “Who asked you to think? Remember, you are still a fresher. Instead of applying your thoughts, you should have spoken to us. Your parents are still alive, and right here for you! And apart from that, you have a foot long tongue to speak! You rarely use it in the right place.”
The younger son was in no danger of receiving such an overhauling when something went wrong, which was many a time. He would stand beside the person feeling most miserable, and support him/her. He couldn't care less about the colour of the walls or doors. He only read their faces and decided which party he belonged to, but only for that particular moment. He could be called a 'thali ka baingan', and poor thing would fetch no votes.
Several such incidents occurred daily. Arguments were on from breakfast to dinnertime. It could be about the colour of the furniture, to its placement, to the kind of latches for the doors, or even the number of taps in the bathrooms. Each point must be fought over, till the most persuasive won.
Once, I decided to visit this happy family, but at the sight of an ongoing verbal Mahabharat, I retraced my steps and rang them up from home, saying, “You see, I saw all of you were very busy, so I decided not to interrupt but talk to you on the blessed phone instead.”
You could easily see the care and sheer hard work put into their dream project. Thus I often rang them up for chitchat and wished them the best of luck.
Now that quite a few years have borne testimony to the making of 'Hotel Exquisite', it does finally look more or less complete. A banner 'Opening Shortly' was hoisted several months back. The gates are still being supported by iron-bars, and are yet to be painted!
Though we have still not received an invitation-card to grace the opening ceremony (God alone knows the destined date!), we wish them all the best for a terrific start, and steady going.