Do you see that potbellied man wearing a pair of Bermudas that is clearly a couple of sizes too small for him? Yes, the one with an oversized wife in neon pink pedal-pushers, a yellow T-shirt, a synthetic hat (yes, even in the heat), oversized faux-branded sun-glasses from the teleshopping home-depot and oh-so-phoren white sneakers? They normally come reeking in, with Bubli and Bunty in tow – an awkward, adolescent daughter (Papa’s Pari) who would often be seen whispering into Daddy-ji’s ears and a totally uninterested little brat (Mama’s darling) who would continue to play games on the mobile, even as Mommy-ji would drag him around, only to float into a lucid interval when he would gulp soda, break things, throw tantrums and make a nuisance of himself, before relapsing into the game induced coma.
Pappa-ji will be unashamedly ogling and belching the whole day – only to get into the ogling and guzzling alcohol mode, come evening. Mummy-ji will be haggling with every one, to the extent of insisting on discounts at Dollar stores. Papa’s Pari will be lost in a Bollywood dream sequence of her own, her braces glinting through her dazed, imbecilic smile. She would often mistake tuk-tuk drivers for cine-idols and hope that they would take her away to some fantasy world, where she would be the item number. The little brat would wake up from his reverie from time to time, throw his trademark tantrums, if only to prove his obnoxious existence.
They are at their boisterous, nauseating best in the dining hall during breakfast, where, seeing the spread of free food, they first break the queue; then pile their plates with much more than they can even dream of consuming; then stuff their vanity bags with everything that can be carried away. If you look at them (in amazement, repulsion or pure hatred) as they transfer edibles into their carry cases (most often laundry bags supplied by the hotel), only one in a million lady will bat her eyelids and sweetly tell you how Bunty gets hunger pangs at odd hours and how she does not like to feed her little prince with stuff bought off the shelf! Oh, I forgot. They will insist on being served and will continuously make obscene noises to attract the attention of the waiters, treating them as children of some lesser God.
If you find them yuck, then you must meet a subset of the family where they claim they are vegetarians. Mommy-ji will ask everyone in her chaste mother tongue, whether the item is “pure-veg” or not? Daddy-ji, in the meanwhile, will amble towards the other end of the buffet and start eating everything that their religion expressly forbids them from consuming. Bunty will insist on eating from Daddy ji’s non-veg plate and Mummy-ji will insist on making him eat from her pile – at the top of their voices, while Bubli will continue to remain in her state of permanent confusion, coyly batting her eyelids at every passing male. Let’s not even talk about the gory “inevitables” – Bunty will puke, Bubly will eat a candle mistaking it for a pastry, and Mommy ji will (again by mistake) transfer some pieces of cutlery into her carry bag. And, they will insist on leaving their dirty, used plates on the food counter. May their tribe increase.
God have mercy on the property that is “lucky” to have Daddy-ji as part of a business convention. Imagine the same balding, belching man in Bermudas, now with a bottle in his hand and no Mommy-ji to be scared of. They hit the bottle right from the morning, turning their roving-eye-raven selves into full-scale Rambos and Romeos. They need just a hint to break into mellifluous, full-throated croaks and boisterous gyrations, which they imagine to be belly dances, revelries that often end up in fights. It is mayhem of an unimaginable kind and the “team building exercise” that HR tries to pass it off as, is perhaps their (read HR’s) way of packing off the buffoons for their chance to breathe easy for a couple of days!
It is a different story when Bubli grows up and accompanies Hubby-ji on her honeymoon. You can identify her by the glass bangles from wrist to knee, the new trolly bags and the way she sticks to her husband, clutching her new mobile phone (replete with the barbie pink case) for lovelorn life. They rarely get out of their rooms and when they do, like dolphins rising to the surface to breathe, they normally restrict themselves to a lot of public show of affection, except in those rare occasions, when Bubli feels terribly lost or misses Daddy-ji and begins to cry, often inconsolably.
Bunty, on the other hand, when he gets to be old enough to hit the circuit, normally comes in a pack. They are backpackers of a different kind, living life king size. They normally keep to themselves, partying hard, though some find their unkempt demeanour a tad bit consternating. Yes, they do use most of the property’s facilities, rake up the bills, and chill when they want to, just like the business travellers and are courteous to boot. Their worst? When the wi-fi fails. Yes, they do have the typical Alpha Males and the Queen bees, but surprisingly, their influence on the group is always sobering.
The best guests, of course are the lady business travellers. No nonsense. No tantrums. No hanky-panky. Always calm and composed.
While I was writing this, I happened across one such frequent flyer, someone whose patronage (and increasingly, acquaintance) we cherish. She was kind enough to go through my first attempt at blogging, smiled and said, “even if I give you the right to laugh at the follies and foibles of your guests, do you think it is correct to generally typecast people the way you have? Besides, I too have a husband who is balding and pot-bellied. And no, I don’t wear neon pedal-pushers, ever.”
I do not know if I am doing the right thing in writing whatever I am writing. And would love to hear your views on the piece. Want more? Want me to stop immediately? Drop me a line either way.
(The author is the facility manager at a popular tourist destination in a Far Eastern Country. For obvious reasons she cannot disclose her identity).