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May 23, 2012 | Comments Off on Reserve my Room at the Marigold, Please! | Betsy Woodman
By the time the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened, I’d practically memorized the trailer. Who can resist Judi Dench mistaking a gin and tonic for a glass of water, or Maggie Smith refusing to eat something she can’t pronounce? So, hooray, last weekend, I saw the film, a gentle comedy about seven British retirees who travel to what they think is going to be a luxury retirement hotel in Jaipur, India. I loved it, just loved it. I could see a bit of myself in each of those old duffers. Book me a room at the Marigold right away! (Okay, after they’ve fixed up the plumbing.)
During my family’s years in India, mid twentieth-century, both the U.S. government and the Ford Foundation sent employees first class, so, on our plane trips, we had berths made up with linens. They put the six of us up at establishments such as the legendary Taj Hotel in Mumbai and the Imperial Hotel in Delhi. My major recollection of these hotels is of enormous rooms with high ceilings and marble floors. However, if pictures are to be believed, nothing in those days came close to the opulence of today’s luxury hotels in India. If the seven pensioners in Marigold had been able to throw around huge amounts of cash, they would have had a different experience.
Not to say a better one. My family had some memorable vacations at places without indoor plumbing, where the “thunder buckets” were discretely whisked away after use and bath water was delivered in large metal canisters.
Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for amenities was the Charleville Hotel in Mussoorie (now a training center for government administrators.)
As you can see, the back wing, where we stayed, was a modest structure with corrugated metal roofs. But the dining room had a wooden dance floor, and a small band played Strauss waltzes after dinner. The bearers (waiters) were spiffy in their tufted turbans, and patient with us small fry.
“Guest is God” goes an Indian expression, and we were often the beneficiaries of that philosophy.