Friday, April 30, 2010
Day Five – I woke up around 8am with more diarrhea. Seriously? I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch the day before. How was there anything left in my system? I decided to weigh myself on the scale in the bathroom. Hmmm…kilograms. I wrote down the number and made a mental note to google conversion tables.
Ryan called downstairs to ask if we could switch rooms – we were unsatisfied with the noisy TV and the lack of internet connection in our room. They sent a guy up right away who insisted that they upgrade us to a 6th floor executive suite. He also insisted that we go ahead and he would bring our bags up. You sure you don’t want us to all take one? We can get it. “Oh no sir…I insist...I bring your bags...you go…enjoy your new room, sir.” Alright, dude...if you insist. We hopped on the elevator and went to the 6th floor (top floor. Very posh for Ghaziabad.)
The room was basically identical to our old room, but 3 feet wider on the left side. More room to wheel each other around on the room service carts! We waited about 3 seconds and the guy with our bags knocked on our door. Seriously dude...we could have just carried them. I grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. The minute we heard the sweet sounds of Bollywood without the accompanying obnoxious humming noise, I threw my hands in the air for victory and startled the baggage guy. “This room is to your satisfaction, sir?” Yes. It’s perfect. And if it has internet access we are each going to kiss you on the mouth.
We wandered down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. If I haven’t mentioned it before, the hotel restaurant is gorgeous. Super clean. Friendly staff. 100% vegetarian (which I would normally find super awesome and delicious, but on a weak stomach, some of the dishes just look mushy and brown. Not appetizing.) Cereal was out because it required milk (unpasteurized). Everything else seemed more like a dinner item than a breakfast thing (what is with the baked beans?) – but as Ryan pointed out, we’re the weird ones who think pop tarts and donuts are suitable breakfast foods. And since this was a strict vegetarian restaurant, they didn’t serve eggs either. I decided to go with starches for breakfast and grabbed 3 potato wedges, a somosa and ½ a waffle. One bite of the somosa and I was positive I’d be in the bathroom again for the rest of the morning. Skip. The potatoes were marinated in olive oil and some (really strong) herbs. Skip. The waffle was good, but wasn’t sitting well. It had been five days and I’d completely lost my appetite.
I kissed Ryan goodbye (right there in the restaurant...scandalous!) and went back up to the room to take a shower. And hey! This new “executive suite” came with a whole plethora of free bathroom necessities. There was a shaving kit! Score! I guess executives shave more than regular non-executive-types? I slathered my freshly shaved gams in SPF 30 and threw on my new "swim costume". I fixed my hair in a tiny little ponytail (and about 30 bobby-pins) and threw on my new straw hat. I was ready to go!
The pool was on the second floor (with access through the gym and spa) so when I opened the doors, there were three little guys standing around in “I’m a personal trainer” outfits next to a bunch of gym equipment. I asked for the swimming pool and all three of them walked over to a door and escorted me out to the pool deck. “OH, shoot! I forgot a towel!” One of the guys hurried off, “I get you towel. No problem.” The other two walked me over to some deck chairs and pointed, “This okay? You want this chair?” Sure. That works for me! Just then, the first guy came back with two huge towels and began laying them out for me. It was super windy, so he laughed a little when the first towel blew completely off and wrapped itself around a tree. “I get you new towel.” And he ran off. “It’s okay. Thank you. One is fine.” But he insisted. The other two guys sort of waved and walked away, like “have fun!” and I realized it was about 110 degrees out there. Curious how cold the water was, I walked over and dipped a toe in. Just slightly above freezing. How in the world do they keep the pool so cold? I was just sure it would be room temperature bath water.
I sat down in my super-cushy deck chair where the guy had already returned with a second towel. I got out my book and I hadn’t even finished a page before my swimsuit was hot to the touch and burning my stomach. Time to jump in and cool off. And as a side note, I’m really bad at regulating my body temperature. It takes a lot for me to sweat, which means I get really over-heated and I can’t cool down. I’ve never been one of those people who can lay out in the sun for hours at a time. I need to float on a raft or spritz myself with water or consume a cold drink if I have any chance of avoiding heat stroke. That said, I could hardly get myself all the way in that water. It was only three feet deep, but it took me 20 minutes to work myself all the way in. I could feel my shoulders start to burn and I’m positive they made that sizzle noise when they hit the water. I swam around a little bit to warm up, but had no intentions of getting my face or my hair wet (or removing my protective hat). I got back out and was bone dry in 30 seconds. I grabbed my book and decided to read while standing in the pool. When my shoulders got too hot, I took a deep breath and dipped down to cool them off. I did that for about 8 chapters.
When the wind picked up, there was a very strong manure smell coming from the lot next door. They were building something that looked like a wedding reception site with giant pergolas and a dance floor (and it required manure). After a while, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and I was certain I’d burned through the first layer of my skin. I had no idea what time it was or how long I’d been out there. I packed up all of my stuff and went back inside.
I got back to the room and the phone rang. It was Ryan. He was downstairs and he’d just finished eating lunch with the guys from work (meaning they probably got there around 2:00 because that's what time people in India eat lunch). Shivani was also downstairs with her son and what Ryan guessed was her sister or possibly her nanny. They were all asking about me and concerned that I had been alone all morning with nothing to do. He asked if I wanted to come downstairs and have lunch with them. Sure. Why not.
I met Ryan in the lobby and I told him how relaxing and nice my morning had been. I didn’t mind being by myself at all. Especially in a hotel like this with a great restaurant, comfy beds, a pool, a gym and a guy who cleans your room twice a day whether you need it or not.
We got to the restaurant and we walked right over to Shivani’s table where there were two purses and a backpack in the extra chair. When they didn’t stand up or move the purses at the site of us, the thought immediately popped in to my mind that I’d misunderstood the whole “do you want to come downstairs and have lunch with them” question. Ryan made it sound like maybe they were waiting for me to join them, but they clearly already had food on the table. I suddenly felt really awkward about the whole thing and I didn’t want to intrude. Shivani asked how my morning had been so far and I told her what I had just told Ryan about how relaxing and nice it had been and that I was actually thinking about ordering something from room service. (not to be a total pain in the ass, but if she'd said, "Oh no, please! Eat with us!" I would have. But she just sort of stared at me) As I was talking, I couldn’t help but notice the sweet little face that was staring up at me. Shivani’s son was so cute, I wanted to go over and scoop him up. I waved and said hello and he just looked at me like “who in the world are you”. His big brown eyes looked so innocent and sweet but I could tell he was skeptical.
I introduced myself to the other girl at the table and Shivani explained that she was Anooj’s sister – her sister-in-law. Seconds after that she referred to her as her cousin, so I’m still not entirely sure how they’re related. Either way, she lives with them in Saroj and Ajit’s house and she seemed very nice. I told them I’d let them get back to their lunch and thanked Shivani again for taking me around yesterday. She just sort of nodded her head and smiled, so I said goodbye to her sister-in-law/cousin and tried one last time to get her son to wave at me. Not a chance. He didn’t even blink. Yup. I was going back upstairs.
I said goodbye to Ryan and promptly ran to my room to order a veggie burger and an order of veggie fried rice. One or the other would HAVE to be good so I was hedging my bets. As I waited for my room service (which they call “In Room Dining”) I flipped through the channels and watched some funny commercials about skin whitening creams and the dangers of “setting your fairness back”. Even men were warned about looking too dark and splotchy – little digital effects showed the levels of fairness you could achieve just by using this special cream. I found it fascinating, considering I’d probably be watching advertisements for bronzers and self-tanners if I were back home right now. I also laughed at the 30-second McDonald’s spots that involved some sort of mishap in the kitchen – then a “ding” and a picture of a McDonald’s extra value meal “only 150 rupees”. Well done, McDonald’s. You are officially everywhere.
My food arrived and I decided to save the rice for dinner and eat the veggie burger. It was by far the most disgusting veggie burger I have ever eaten…and I’ve eaten a lot of veggie burgers. I love them, in fact. But this one was *wet* somehow. The inside oozed like a half-cooked pancake. I took several bites around the outside of it – forcing myself to power through and then I settled for my little pile of French fries. Delicious. I snuggled up on the bed and found a movie channel in English. “Finding Neverland” was about to start and I got chills just seeing the title.
I love "Finding Neverland". I love little Freddy Highmore. I love that Johnny Depp did a movie where he didn't look crazy or homeless. I love that I cry every 15 minutes because there are so many sweet/tender/sad moments. I cry at the part where they tie the bell on to the tail of the kite and Johnny Depp tells the boys that they have to BELIEVE so they start clapping and cheering “Go Michael Go! You can do it!’ as they send Michael running down the hill and then the camera floats up as the bell starts to ring and...oh my gosh...it's magical! Or the part when Peter (Freddy) stands on the little stage he made and defiantly tears every page out of his journal while looking right at Jim (Johnny) – his bottom lip all quivery and his eyes full of tears. Pretty much every scene with Freddy Highmore has me reaching for the Kleenex. And the part at the end when the grandma starts clapping for Tinkerbell - her eyes all crazy like her determination will save her daughter too. I had to take a deep breath and let out a long sigh...compose myself. Man, that movie is good.
The doorbell rang (our room had a doorbell) and it was the cleaning service. I decided I could leave for a while and go to the Business Center while they straightened up the room (plus we were getting low on bottled water and they always replenished our free supply - good for every time we felt like brushing our teeth or spending more than 15 seconds outside.)
The Business Center chick and I were becoming friends. She no longer had to get out of her chair to show me where the computers were or jiggle the mouse to get the screen to come on (very specific paragraphs written about this in her job description) so I just waved hello and helped myself to a computer.
Through email, I found out that my oldest dog (Meg) was destroying the basement door and catching snakes in the yard. I take credit for the snake-catching trick - I taught her how to "get the moving stick! get it! now shake it!" but the basement door thing is a fairly new development. She hates to be locked up. She hates her kennel. She hates the basement door. She hates the fenced backyard. She has EATEN the bars on her kennel, she has EATEN the entire wooden frame on the basement door, and she has figured out how to use her body to pop off fence-posts for a quick getaway. The dog understands the principals of LEVERAGE for crying out loud! As long as I live, I will never know a smarter dog than Meg. She's like a wizard.
I re-assured our neighbor (kind enough to look after our dogs while we were gone) that this is what she does. She gets really upset that she's been locked up and she takes it out on the house. We need to replace that door anyway - and the door frame - and the drywall underneath that's been chewed up and spit out in a big chalky mess. Perhaps a mid-afternoon walk or a big rawhide bone would keep her from chewing her way out of the basement? But dang it, dog! If you only knew - the alternative is 2 weeks in a kennel at the vet's office!
I also found out that my sister was definitely getting induced on Friday and we were going to miss the arrival of baby Brett. It made sense. They really wanted him to be born on the 16th of April. My sister was miserable...very swollen and uncomfortable. But it made me sad that I wouldn't be there to welcome our newest little family member. I posted a quick facebook update and I sent out an email to my mom, then I headed back to the room. As I flopped down on the comfy, clean bed, I realized I hadn't left the comfort of my hotel for an entire day...and I was blissfully fine with that.