The Chawl Hotel

I sat overlooking the swimming pool devastated by the headline that Simon Cowell does not wear any underwear. Mrs Kapoor laboured across the breadth of the swimming pool gasping through her journey like a beached whale.  Mr Kapoor was having an affair with his secretary and Mrs. Kapoor had decided to get back into shape to seek revenge.

Ours was a very esoteric and closed community. We lived in five star flats which overlooked the swimming pool on the inside and the dazzling modern bazaar of the IT Park of our city on the outside. The building had three storeys only and was built in a square shape with an inner courtyard of immense proportions. This inner courtyard held the swimming pool and a vast garden for parties and taking recreational walks.

This had been a hotel but it had to close down because it had opened a year or two too early. If it had been opened during the boom time of the early 21st century it would have prospered. Instead it collapsed financially and the owners sold the superb five star suites as flats to the rich people of Delhi. All of us were lucky inheritors of this good fortune. I lived in these flats while my parents lived in their posh haveli in New Delhi. My job was to obey my father and look after the numerous properties he had bought around the National Capital Region. I was a denizen of night clubs, five star hotels and celebrity party venues.

Power less on Sunday

So what would one do if there were no electricity on a Sunday? No television. Lots of time on hand and you are all alone. Breakfast without a coffee machine and a blender. Boil an egg, make a sandwich. What next? Read a book.
Mow the lawn. Do not have the energy today. So? Still no television. Meet some friends. Might lead to some heavy beer drinking and eating. Really have to shed some pounds.
Make something interesting on the gas? Frozen food on the gas? I really do not know real cooking. I have no fresh vegetables that I can chop and perhaps make a soup with some chicken thrown in. I’ll eat some ice cream.
Now what? Still no television. The internet is knocked out. I have the laptop to write a few pages before it too gives up the ghost.
I have to step out. A cool summer breeze. The sun is behind some clouds. I will sit down under the big tree in the lawn.
Mr. Jones too walks out. “No television,’ he says. It is the first time we have actually talked to each other except for the occasional ‘how’s it going?” etc. etc.
He is a chess fanatic. I do have some moves in me and he brings a folding table and a chess set. We sit and play all afternoon under the shade of the tree. This is a big breakdown. Mobiles are knocked out too. So no one knows what has happened any way. Mrs. Jones brings us lemonade and chicken sandwiches and she sits down on the lawn near us. She asks all the questions about me that must have been pent up for a month. Where is Lina? Where are the kids?
I tell her that Lina is designing and helping re-decorate her parents’ house and the kids are with her and they will be back today.
She, I am sure does not believe me.
It is five in the evening now. I have somehow blocked Mr. Jones in the last game and he is scratching his head when there is a roar of a car in my driveway. It is Lina and the kids. The chess game is abandoned and I help pull all the stuff from the car and into the house. Mrs. Jones helps too. The kids are really flummoxed by the lack of electricity. They just cannot believe it.
At last everything turns on with a thump, the refrigerator, the television and the air conditioning.
Could I really have survived another hour’s power cut? God knows but I sure had a great day out in the open. Mr. and Mrs. Jones too loved the picnic in my lawn. I am sure we will be better neighbors because of the power failure.