The Indian big city travel hassle
Travelling to big cities can be amazing, with a lot to offer and a lot to experience. But – it tends to cost a lot of money, either for the accommodation or for the sights. On a tiny budget and as part of a longer journey, it can really be a hassle.
For us, we are pretty much loving every minute of our journey, except for those minutes we have nowhere to stay and hotel managers firmly reject us: No foreigners!
Yesterday we flew from Kerala, with all its smaller cities and cosy homestays, to Kolkata in West Bengal. The day before we had booked a relatively cheap hotel, considering the high prices in the area, which seemed to have a nice standard. Both flights were on time and the streets was still lit by the remaining sunlight when we landed. So as the massive traffic hit on the way to the hotel we decided to get out of the taxi and walk the rest of the few blocks to our hotel. That way we could even leave our bags and find a place to see the 6 o’ clock football match (Arsenal VS Tottenham – The North London Derby). Amazing!
But we let our shoulders down to early. The place we had booked was one of these OYO hotels, a chain we have come to avoid if possible, without actually having stayed in one. When Google Maps said we had arrived at our destination, the hotel name was different than expected. The guard spoke no English, but did not let that stop him and instead drew up a map of where we should walk to get to the right place. After realising that the ad-hoc homemade map was not really correct, we eventually found the place.
As we walked in through the door, the manager behind the desk looked as if in shock. We gave our best smiles and a big “hi!” Still no reply. After a few seconds of awkward stares, he swiftly waived his finger at us and said “contact booking.com!”.
He pointed at some rules hand-written on a post-it note on the wall. The first said “no unmarried couples”. And as I was preparing a not-so-true speech about us being married, but leaving the rings at home while we were travelling, he came over and pointed at the bottom rule. “No foreigners”. And that was about it.
The streets had turned dark, and we were getting slightly worried as we realised that all the places nearby were fully booked. Luckily, after a number of phone calls and a lot of help from a wonderful guy with fluent English at a nearby fully booked guest house, we finally found our way to a cosy homestay in our price range.
It tends to all work out in the end. And even though people were sometimes staring at these lost white people (aka. us) as if they want to trick us into buying synthetic drugs, they tend to change personalities into friendly guides as soon as we smile to them.
These kinds of experiences have only happened to us in big cities. Smaller cities in India are so hassle-free, and if one place is booked, the owner surely has a friend with a spare room.