Sunday, October 19, 2008
Doubletree by Hilton Vizag.....someday...and another cultural experience!
For those of you wondering how our first hotel in India is coming......Slooooooooowly! For those of you who saw the first set of pictures I took in August on my inaugural trip, not much has changed...besides having to go there to assess the status of the hotel, a huge part of my job is establishing relationships with the owners. Many of you will recall my telling you that the owner, Sarat Kumar Reddy, wanted to open the hotel on the date of his father's birthday, October 15th...I had promised him back in August that I would be in Vizag for his father's celebration....no matter what. Opening the hotel on his father's birthday was Sarat's dream, but it was clear to me back in August that we would not open the hotel.....but I was going to be there for him. There was a ceremony scheduled that day, but it didn't involve a ribbon cutting...it involved another "Puja". Now this was my second puja and there were many familiar aspects ....remember ...no shoes.....and a priest....alot of chanting, flowers, incense, candles, gods, more flowers.......and something unfamiliar....sitting on the table were two clear containers with two different liquids in them...and one of those little spoons! Now keep in mind that I am standing in this room, watching intently at everything happening, which is easy to do when you don't know what is being said....I don't know if he was singing the Hindi version of "How Great Thou Art" or what, so all I can do is observe.....when the priest picked up the container with the "milky, cloudy, liquid" and then saw Sarat form his hands into a cup......I admit I was having second thoughts, but I couldn't back out at this point.....OK..."second thoughts" is being nice...I was thinking "Oh Shit, what am I about to drink"? I watched Sarat drink the liquid from his hand, then he rubbed the remaining liquid in the palm of his hand through his hair. I say to myself.."OK, I got this down....cup hands.....drink liquid (I was worried about making a slurping sound, and then rub the remaining through my hair...I can do this", but I am still a little nervous. Well obviously I am still around to write my blog; so I didn't die or get deathly ill, but my story can't stop there.....Brace yourselves....I executed the task at hand flawlessly, but did not take into account that rubbing liquid through my hair would have different results than Sarat, who has a thick hair.....yes.....the liquid as it turned out was coconut juice with something sprinkled in it.....but it did not stay in my hair......it ran down my forehead! Yes.....another "cultural" experience for Lloyd in India.....I am guessing that Gandhi has the same problem.....so I wore the coconut droplet that reached my left eyebrow with pride....and I had to do so because the ceremony was not over....Have any of you stopped laughing yet?? So then we were given something to eat, which was sweet.....I think it was called "ghee"....Indian clarified butter with sugar.....it tasted better than it looked....almost like a praline flavor without the pecans. Well...when the ceremony was over , I excused myself and wiped the droplet inconspicuously from my brow...but i had strands of hair and flower petals plastered to my head....because coconut juice is sticky....and I had to walk around like this all day long! Well here are a couple of pictures of the hotel.....like I said, not much has changed and I estimate that the hotel will open sometime at the beginning of March. The last picture is of "Sonny", at least that is what I think I heard them call him.....he sleeps just outside the door to the temporary office at the project site. I miss you Murphy!