On the Sunday after residency, I had plenty of time to kill, as my plane flight wasn’t leaving until 11 p.m. and the Le Meridien was in a pretty big hurry for me to leave. Funny how once Duke stops paying the bills, the hotel became all “So…what time are you leaving today?” Nothing like an 11:30 a.m. “courtesy call”, when check-out was at 1 p.m.!
Solidifying her title as “Best Host Ever!”, Taniya agreed to take a bunch of us misfits out in Delhi for a little lunch and some shopping. Shailesh, Ian, Rahul, Vijay, Taniya, and myself first headed toward Connaught Place on some rickshaws, in search of some Indian food. At this point, I had given up ‘taking it easy'; if I was to feel bad on the plane ride home, why not take a gamble that I could make everyone on the plane uncomfortable! As it turns out, the restaurant was quite good, so I had no gastric issues the rest of the day.
After lunch, Shailesh, Rahul, and Ian split from the group, leaving me, Vijay, and Taniya off in search of souvenirs. Vijay, apparently wanting to corner the market in little elephant statues, set out to find that ‘perfect’ set…and then proceeded to buy what seemed like 27 more. I bought a few textile things, but since I haven’t given them to the intended recipients yet, I won’t describe them here!
At this point, it was about 4 p.m., so there was still plenty of time in the day for another excursion. Since we were in the area, Taniya suggested we visit the Imperial Hotel, described as one of ‘Asia’s finest hotels’ and the ‘nicest hotel in Delhi’ from a quick glance around the Internet. With brick roads lined with palm trees, and a white marble facade, the outside certainly lived up to that description! And then…
A Ferrari. And not just a “starter” Ferrari, like the California or the F430. A “Ferrari Red” Ferrari 599…the type of Ferrari that says that you not only have a bunch of money (sticker price is $300k minimum), but taste as well. I won’t disrespect the memory of this car by assuming it was anything less than a 2010 model.
Witnessing the Imperial Hotel, looking every bit like the Bellagio or Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, with a super high-end sports car outside, all I could think was, ‘India, why must you continually mess with me?’ Is it not enough to show me amazing sights like the Taj Mahal or India Gate, creating juxtapositions of immense beauty with ‘rough-around-the-edges’ development? You’ve got to throw a Ferrari into the mix? There aren’t even enough wide open, cleanly paved roads to MOVE the car somewhere else in the city, let alone drive 180 m.p.h. To say nothing of the fact that the cost of that Ferrari could’ve been used to improve several city blocks outside of the hotel…
Moving on, Vijay, Taniya, and I eventually went inside the Imperial Hotel; walking in, I wasn’t sure I was properly dressed for a hotel of this magnitude! It was clear that the guests of this hotel were every bit as rich as some of the other impressive places I’ve visited, and rather than take a bunch of pictures like a goober, I decided to at least act like I’ve been to places that nice before!
Even deciding not to take pictures, our ‘vibe’ must’ve given us away; the hotel staff was very attentive in asking us if we ‘needed anything’. Not the hospitable “Do you need something?”, but rather the “Are you sure you’re in the right place? Perhaps we could give you directions somewhere?” Rather than stick out any more, the three of us decided to head to the ‘Patiala Peg’ bar for quick sit down and a cocktail, when who do I see…
…my old friend Pimm’s No. 1 cup! Lovely to see you old chap! If there was any doubt to the British influence still present at the hotel, seeing Pimm’s No. 1 cup on the menu solidified it. Sure, I mean there was the marble floors, mahogany carved walls, and highly dressed ‘imperial’ hotel staff, but serving the staple drink of Wimbledon…can’t get more British than that!
After finishing our drinks, we finally headed back to the Le Meridien, which was a tad bit of a let down. One great thing about a really high-end hotel like the Imperial Hotel (if not slightly off-putting) is that they give you the ‘you don’t belong here’ vibe, and thus don’t bother you for tips. Unlike say, the waitstaff of Le Meridien, who wanted me to give them 50 rupees every time I drank too much water.
Like the $10 I owe for thinking about the Ferrari, I’ll have to get you back next time I’m in Delhi, bathroom attendants!