It was after a year of being in a relationship together that my boyfriend and I decided to rent a room for the first time. We had earlier sneaked in and out of houses, but we really wanted to spend a night together now without having to worry about who could walk in when. One day, we were hanging out near R.K. Ashram Marg in New Delhi when we saw a hotel - it must have been a four star hotel, very nicely made and looked gorgeous! For fun we decided to go in and ask them about their room tariff. But as soon as we walked in, I felt like all eyes were following us.
The reception was smaller than I expected it to be with a series of desks together for enquiry. We went and sat down on one of the chairs opposite a desk where a woman sat, must be in her mid-thirties. “Yes?” she asked looking up at us, “We wanted to know what is your room tariff for a night?” I asked her and she shot me the dirtiest look anyone had ever given me. Suddenly, I felt like this was a bad idea, here we were just enquiring but they were now looking at us like we were about to set up a brothel in their hotel. Without saying much she showed me a chart with their room tariffs but I wasn’t ready to go yet. “What would be the requirements if I wanted to book a room?” I asked again, “You would need to have an out of town ID card and be a married couple” she replied dryly, looking at me through her glasses which made the moment way more awkward!
And that was it, no one paid any heed to any of our other questions and it was pretty clear that in case we wanted to book a room we’d be unwelcome as a couple. More than heartbroken, I was surprised by the hotel staff’s behaviour, we were two adults and no one had the right to tell us off like that.
That was our first encounter with any kind of hotel staff. Our hotel search continued after that. We couldn’t book through applications like OYO rooms back then unless we were willing to go to Gurgaon because everywhere else I was looked at with utmost disrespect.
Hating this hypocrisy everywhere, we finally visited Paharganj, after a friend recommended a place. Now, Paharganj in Delhi is very famous for its reputation as far as the motels are concerned, so I was really skeptic about staying there. No matter what, I did not want to be involved in a police raid and end up in a much worse position.
The place in Paharganj was a small motel, much like a dhaba from the outside but quite decently built inside, just off the main market. This time my boyfriend decided he wanted to do the talking so he told the hotel receptionist, who was a man in his early 20’s, that we were looking for a room and this place was suggested to us by a friend who had stayed here earlier. “Do you have an ID?” he asked, “Yes, but it is of New Delhi” replied my boyfriend, since not having an ID from another city had been an issue at a lot of places “That’s okay sir, as long as it is from India” the receptionist said and gave us a goofy smile.
I suddenly felt comfortable in the warm environment, he hadn’t questioned our intentions or looked at me with disgust and it was a welcome change! He gave us a room but more than the room, he gave us comfort. For both dinner and breakfast he asked us what we’d like and even went and got curd for me from outside because they didn’t have any.