“Tomorrow you can Sleep!” by Frank Kusy
In January 2002, I was back in Delhi, trying to find a room at midnight, and all I could come up with was the Saina Hotel in Paharganj. Cold and grimy, with no-star facilities, it was a dismal prospect.
An Israeli guy sidled up to me while I was checking in. ‘I know this room 104 you have. Very noisy!’ he said. ‘But not as noisy as 105. I have 105, and there are always Russians in 106, making up parcels in the middle of the night.’
‘Why are you staying here, then?’ I asked.
He shrugged. ‘Well, the people are nice. No sleep, but very nice people.’
It was very cold that night, so I bribed a room-boy to bring up some extra blankets and a couple of fan heaters.
‘Is it going to be noisy tonight?’ I asked him.
He nodded agreeably. ‘Yes!’
‘Why is that, then?’
‘Everybody leaving tonight.’
‘Four in the morning. Tomorrow you can sleep!’
Minutes later, a knock at my door announced the arrival of two other room-boys with my two fan-heaters. These instantly took up a focal point in the room, mounted on a coffee table at the foot of my bed. I pointed at the bare wires hanging out of the back of both heaters, and watched, fascinated, as the two boys attempted to ram them into the positive-negative holes in the wall. Sparks flew and one of the boys was thrown back onto the carpet, moaning softly. A couple of his mates plunged into the room and tried to take his place, but he bravely thrust them aside and set to his task with renewed energy. Finally, with no further electrical accidents, all four leads were jammed into their correct sockets and the two heaters whined into action.
Warm and triumphant, I settled back under my four blankets with my twin turbo jet heaters gunning away in the background, and decided to leave the TV on so it drowned out any other noise. I finally drifted off to sleep.
It was 2.20am when I was jolted awake. The TV was showing a strange documentary about psychic corgis, and someone was banging on my door. I slouched to the door and came face to face with another room-boy, this one wearing a television on his head.
‘I’ve already got one,’ I told him, and he went away again.
Getting back to sleep again proved impossible. A couple of Indian honeymooners had moved into room 103 and kept enthusiastically mounting each other with loud screams of mutual enjoyment. An octave or two below this came the sound of someone sloshing buckets of water up and down the corridor outside, performing some kind of nocturnal cleaning operation. This someone was moaning even louder than the happy couple, and I could only assume it was yet another room-boy, this one suffering from an intestinal problem.
The noise crescendoed to its loudest point around 3am when a party of gangsters burst into room 101, two doors along, to collect money from a tourist who had lost heavily in their casino and hadn’t paid up. I opened my door just in time to see the fellow being dragged down the marble staircase and into the street outside. This woke up all the local mongrels, and they yowled away until 3.30am, which was when the Russians woke up and started checking out.
It had been a long, long night!
Add your comments about this story on the Blog page.