I lift up the pillow and a nest of beetles scurry away from the light.
I do the same with the next pillow, sending more beetles scuttling away in to the darkness.
I quickly brush them away before The Boss spots them and throw my own clean bed sheet over the whole bed, pillows and all.
The pillow is the same shape and consistency as a bag of cement and within 10 minutes I have a throbbing headache.
The bed too short for my height so I am forced to lie at an angle with my feet hanging over the side. The room bathed in a dim glow from the fluorescent yellow street light outside the window as I listen to late night wedding revelers returning noisily to the rooms next door, shouting at each other in Tamil despite their proximity and the late hour. I wouldn’t be getting much sleep that night.
Earlier that evening after a fruitless search for some quality accommodation in this small rural town we finally settled for the best of the rest and took a tiny room in a lodge down a noisy side street. It’s wedding season and everywhere is booked solid in a town that is not big enough to warrant a hotel of any kind.
The room qualifies as luxury accomodation as it has AC and a TV. One thing it lacks though is hot water. With hand signals and a few words in English and Tamil we explained to the owner that we wanted hot water to bathe in and he explained that he would supply us with an immersion rod, an electric element which you suspend in a bucket to heat the water. It needs to be suspended using a wooden stick so that you don’t get an electric shock but it is surprisingly effective.
By 8pm it hadn’t arrived so I climbed down the narrow stairway to what functions as the reception. The lodge owner was still there juggling calls on his two cell phones.
“Hot water, hot water” I asked him.
“9 o’clock coming” came the answer. “Fresh piece.”
As good as his word, at 9 o’clock there was a loud banging on the door.
The elderly watchman, barefoot and clad in a white vest and dhoti, handed me a plastic bucket, a wooden stick and a brand new immersion rod still in it’s box.
Closing the door, I looked at the price stickers still on the bucket and the immersion rod box. The total cost was Rs650.
The rent for the room was only Rs600!