A few months back I went to Sri Lanka to look at some potential locations for Rethink Retreats, my shiny new training company. Sri Lanka is wonderful and I really want to bring clients there – not only is it beautiful and well run, but it’s very like India… except, and forgive me for this India, Sri Lanka actually works. Things are clean and reasonably efficient, and you tend not to have to bribe people as a starting point. Plus the Sri Lankans are so super polite they make even the lndians seem a little brusque. And that takes some doing.
Anyway, I went for a long weekend over my birthday to Bentota to see a particularly posh hotel I’ve got my eye on. There’s a late flight from Bangalore and as it’s only an hour, we landed about 10pm. Then we drove the three hours down the coast – no traffic and the delights of such treats as working street lighting, tarmac and even, get this, traffic lights with the recommended number of lanes of traffic. You don’t get that in Bangalore I can tell you – six deep at every turning. And that’s outside of rush hour.
So, with all this, obviously it was pretty late by the time I checked in. The place was beautiful; lovely welcome, helpful staff and the room was stunning. The chap who was showing me around, began to extol its virtues – the two sinks, the huge bath, the enormous built in wardrobes with lots of freebies and extras. And that’s where we began to get unstuck. One of the things provided by the hotel was a local style lunghi instead of a dressing gown. That’s a tube of long material, like a sarong sewn along the short hem. They’d helpfully labelled them ‘his’ and ‘hers’ – and here my smiling guide was pointing at the ‘hers’ and saying ‘for internal use, madam’
Hmm, thinks I – I’m obviously missing something. That appears to be a lunghi, just what exactly is he expecting me to do with that? So we run backwards and forwards round the idea for a while – ‘internally?’ – ‘yes madam, only internally’, big beaming smile. Now do bear in mind that at this point it had been a very long day, I’d been up for what seemed forever and I’d only been in the country a few hours. So it took me a lot longer to get to the fact, you probably worked out some time ago… what this delightful man was trying to communicate to me was that this lunghi was only to be worn inside the hotel (internally to the compound) and not out into the wide world. No traipsing around the local area in their precious lunghi.
Considerably easier to comply with than what had been running through my head… that’s well over 2 metres of fabric after all…
Well it had been a very long day.
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And please do add your own tales of hotel confusion in the comments below. I love to know I’m not alone…