FIVE STAR DREAMS
-Dr. (Major) Nalini Janardhanan
“Mummy, we are going to Mussorie for summer holidays!” My son Arun was so excited.
“You know Mummy? There we will be staying in a five star hotel. How nice, isn’t it?” My daughter Priya was in a dreamy world.
I could not believe my ears. Is it a reality or dream? “It is true, Sridevi. We have been selected as the lucky couple of the year!” My husband Unni Menon explained.
What a pleasant surprise! The scheme was arranged by a travel agency in the city. They draw lots and select a lucky couple. The lucky couple, along with family, is offered summer holidays in a hill station. Their stay and food will be arranged in a five star hotel. ‘It is really thrilling’- I thought.
We belonged to a middle class family of Kerala. We had desires and dreams planned according to our budget only. In fact we were used to a lifestyle based on economy and priorities. When the hopes or desires are within a limit, there is no question of disappointment in life. We were happy in our own little middle class world.
I remembered one of our evenings spent in a three star hotel. Just to escape from the monotony of life, our children suggested a day out followed by a dinner in a three-star hotel. When we entered the big hotel, my heart was also filled with joy like a small child who is offered ice-cream. I still remember the evening which is cherished so carefully like a treasure in my mind.
The entrance to Hotel Ashiana was a majestic brass door engraved with golden letters and the carving of elephant’s face on it. It was decorated with brass bells and brass handles.
When the door is opened, the tiny brass bells made a melodious musical jingle. When we entered the hall, some heavenly perfume in the air received us. The seats reminded us of the bygone days of Kings and Queens. Dining table was decorated with beautiful flowers and silk clothes. Napkins were neatly folded and kept in golden coloured rings. Silver plates and copper glasses on the table were also shining with lovely carvings on them. The designed cutlery sparkled with elegance and beauty.
The main attraction of the hall was a group of long white threads hanging from the ceiling, along which water kept on flowing down. It gave the look of a cute little waterfall when the stream shined like silver in the mercury light. At the corner of the hall, a small stage was set where a singer was singing ghazals.
“When the white sari of the moonlit night moves slowly in the breeze, when the world is sleeping like a child on the lap of mother, Oh! My darling, Will you come over to Taj Mahal to meet me?”
I was taken away to a different world by the ghazal Singer. The enchanting melody and meaningful lyrics of ghazals always attracted me. I started feeling that I was sitting in one of the mehfils of Moghal Era.
“Good evening Sir, May I have the order please? Here is the menu”- My thoughts were scattered by the words of the waiter. I remember with a smile, how I managed to select the cheapest dishes from the menu. After the dinner we gave a good tip to the waiter and literally escaped from the atmosphere of richness and luxury.
‘Life is a pleasant surprise. Life is a small treasure box of rare moments. Life is a sweet memory which makes us smile’ – I thought.
I was really excited about the unexpected turn of events in my life. It was incredible to think that we will be dining and staying in a five star hotel. I reassured myself that it must be a small gift from God to middle class people like us. After all, we can also see a few affordable dreams, isn’t it?
“Let us pack our things in this big suitcase”- My children started selecting their best dresses to take for the trip.
“Can I take my teddy bear also?” When Priya asked, I nodded with smile. I was also humming a favourite tune when I started making the list of things to be carried for the holidays.
The door bell rang. When I opened the door. I was surprised to see my husband. I knew that he had gone to the travel agency to collect the details of our lucky offer. I was shocked to see his face so sad and worried. This was never like him. He is a cheerful person.
“God, please save us. I don’t know what all bad things are going to happen” – I prayed to God.
“What happened to you? I hope everything is all right? Are you ill? Any problems?”
I affectionately held my husband’s hands and asked him. I noticed that he is shattered and disappointed, when he lied on the sofa. I was worried and concerned to see him in such a state.
“Sreedevi, those people cheated us!” He told. I was shocked to hear that.
“The travel agency was a fraud one. Their scheme was meant to cheat people like us. Thank God! I lost only Rs 500/-. They took a lot of money from people and left the city last night”.
When he saw the sad faces of children, my husband reassured them. “Don’t worry children, we will definitely go to Mussorie. Of course , we may not stay in a five star hotel. But we can always stay and dine in a small hotel. We can hire a taxi and see the hill station. Forget about the lucky trip. We can plan our own economical sightseeing trip”.
Though tears welled up in my eyes, I tried to smile. How strange is this world! After seeing golden dreams, a small child opens his eyes to find out that he is an orphan who cannot afford luxury. The same feeling of helplessness and misery engulfed my mind.
I realized that the world of middle class people is very strange. We cannot afford much. We can afford this only – Five Star Dreams!