The Accidental Extremist
Because bad trips make great stories.

India Hour One [Hotel Hell]
Tuesday June 01st 2010, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Drive Like Hell, Hotel Hell, India, Road Warriors, The Old Bait and Switch

No convenience is overlooked in Paradise!

No convenience is overlooked in Paradise!

APRIL 18, 2010…After 25+ hours of traveling, my mom and I made it to Delhi from Denver. I was going to volunteer for three weeks, and roped her into a week of sightseeing first.  Although we consider ourselves seasoned travelers, my mom’s experience with Third World countries was non-existent, and she had a lot of apprehension, to say the least. I assured her all would be fine and I would handle it all. So, naturally, we were on Indian soil for only an hour, and already there was a story worth repeating.

As we walked out of the Delhi airport we looked for our hired guide among the hundreds of guides lining the exit waiting for their tourists to arrive…

Quickly, my mom spots a card with only my name, odd because our reservation was under my mom’s name, but whatever, we’re exhausted.  We get outside, it’s hotter than Hades (96 degrees at 10pm) - you can see the heat in the air.  And let me tell you, you can smell India. Then, the compact car is a true contender for the Wreck of Fame.  Odd, too, because we booked with a pretty high-end tour agency.  No matter, the guide and driver are friendly, and we are happy to be there.

We drive towards the city and it is that crazy-foreign-anarchy-driving-with-rik-shaws thing, complete disregard for lanes, mad honking and bright lights whizzing by.  We eventually take a right into what appears to be the “real” India, the kind you don’t see in magazines.  Swarms of people, men sleeping in the street, unbelievable heaps of trash and dirt, blinking lights, and oh yes, cows.  Lots and lots of cows, having their way with the streets, chowing on garbage. Suddenly, we park.  Something is up.

We are commanded to get out of the car and my mom and I look at each other with slight—well, real—confusion and dread. We watch or bags go up a dark, narrow alley way towards what is apparently out hotel for the night.  As we walk we pass tiny computer stalls lit-up by the monitors, rows of steaming food being sold out of silver pots, crisscrossing wires everywhere, and other skinny alleyways sprouting from this main drag. Our hotel was at the top of the walk, decorated in Salvation Army chic. It was like a scene from the Mel Gibson movie, “The Year of Living Dangerously”.

Apparently when I was researching different hotels and tours, the Paradise Hotel - irony of ironies - did not understand that I did not confirm with them and assumed we were coming.  So, our posh-and-paid-for tourguide was apparently still at the airport, while we’re in Hotel Hell’s 5×5 lobby. We never felt in danger, but I was sweating like a nervous Chihuahua. I just worried that they would leave us there to fend for ourselves - in the middle of Delhi, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a crisis. And don’t forget, I’m with my 60-something year old mother whose eyes are bugging out of her head.

Eventually I was on the phone with the Paradise’s tour guide who was yelling at me. We were getting nowhere fast. Next I was on the wrong hotel’s archaic computer trying to prove my case through email, also getting nowhere. When I asked the men in the background to make a call for me on their cell, they pointed to the cricket game on TV.


A lot of broken English and 2,000 Rupees later (with no clue how many dollars that was), these kind souls took pity on us and did indeed drive us to the correct hotel’s steps, which we kissed upon entry. Our new hotel was cow-free and the usual Armageddon scenery, thank God. My mom immediately tried to order a bottle of Chardonnay from room service, which was entertaining.  Fortunately, she succeeded.

Of course this happened. —Colorado native Kristin Rust has visited 27 countries in six continents, with a never-ending “Must Go To” list and a zealous desire to collect airline miles. A trip to Kenya last summer prompted her to quit her 15-year PR career and look into a life and career of world service—and hopefully, more misadventure.


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4 Comments so far
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Hilarious. India. Great writing Kristin. I could smell the cows, incense, diesel, hear the honking, pandemonium and feel the fear. Ah Paradise.


Comment by Leslie Ekings 06.02.10 @ 9:24 am

Great article. I could feel you frustration and desperation.


Comment by Rita Channell 06.02.10 @ 2:55 pm

Diving right in to the developing world travel experience! Puts the reader right there with you and your mom.


Comment by Claire Wallter 06.03.10 @ 6:15 am

Kristin, what a welcome to India! Loved reading your first of many adventures with your Mom in India. Fun to read but I can feel the
anxiety building between the lines. Glad it all worked out and that you are now home. Looking forward to reading more of your travel experiences.


Comment by celia biagetti 06.06.10 @ 10:33 am

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