haibun
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2009, vol 5 no 1

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Andrea Cecon



Untitled

The way from Indira Gandhi International Airport to New Dehli center is a nightmare.

After twenty days of work in Little Tibet, it's not easy to confront crowds, heavy pollution and carcasses of dead cows at the margins of the road... The taxi carries my colleague and I to the Imperial Hotel in the central district of the megalopolis. A room is waiting for us before tomorrow's flight for Italy. The immense hotel imposes itself with all its colonial glamour and once entered we plunge into the conditioned air and the warmest welcome of the Indian staff. It's clear at the first sight that this is one of the most luxurious hotels in India.

All the staff in reception speak PERFECT English, and after long weeks in Ladakh, where we communicated in broken English, I work hard to follow their speech. Our room feels like a mini apartment: Firstly I phone to my mother in Italy directly from the room, then watch satelite TV and call the hotel's laundry service. Unlike the staff of reception, no one speaks good English there... the only phrases they know are "you are welcome" and "thank you Sir" when receiving the tip.

For the bathroom I have precise agreements with my travel companion: first I wash myself, and I have permission to stay all the time I want... and then it's his turn (guessing he will stay a lot of hours!). Absolute cleanliness reigns inside of our room: there's not a speck of dust... while I'm having the bath I recall that in Leh, for washing, we used a basin of water with a pitcher... When I leave the bathroom and pass the turn to my colleague, I decide to order something to eat in room and then try to understand the secret of this absolute cleanliness. And then I realize: the windows are sealed... welded.

Dehli sunset;
over the rusty hovels
the Imperial Hotel

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