towel ideas dot com

Mukhtar was cleaning the room when I entered it this afternoon.

“Good afternoon, Madam”, he said, with his gentle smile.

I said, “Did you make the swan on my bed the other day?”

He nodded. I repeated the question in Hindi to make sure he had understood it.

“Yes madam”, he said. “We learnt to do it in college.”

I said, “OK. I want to show you something.”

He watched me while I switched on my laptop.

“Did I do something wrong, Madam?”

“No, no. I just want to show you something.”

Yesterday, Dhanno brought Tai in front of her laptop to Skype with me. Dhanno and I have been dinosaurs, preferring to talk over the phone, rather than Skype-ing. No reason at all. But now that we have discovered it, we love it of course. Some times we don’t even talk, just look at each other and laugh.

Tai made me think of Mukhtar. And I thought he would feel pleased when he saw the comments on his swan.

I asked him, “Can you read English?”

He said, “Yes, Madam.”

I scrolled down the comments, and he beamed as he read them.

He said, “Madam, if you go to http://www.towelideas.com, you can see many more things.”

I said, “Mukhtar, it’s not about towel ideas, it’s about you.”

I left him to clean the room and went away for lunch. I came back to an elephant in my room.

I know he will make something different now everyday, thinking that it pleases me.

The room boys here are very young, for most of them it is their first job. The hotel has an ‘institute’ to train hotel staff in Mumbai, and they send their students here to intern for a few months or a year. This means that the hotel can pay them as little as a 1000 rupees for really hard work.

Of course, they are given a place to stay, a room close to the hotel, where they all live together. And food.

Our driver Nagraj said to us a while ago, “The food for the guests is good. The food for the staff is really bad. I try to eat out as much as I can. Or I go home and eat at night, ragi poottu.”

We assured him that the food for the guests was equally bad.

Nagraj lives at home, but the room boys come from far, far away – most of them from Bengal. My first room boy, Akash has gone back home to Dehradun.

“Why did you leave Dehradun and come here?”, I asked. “There are enough hotels there, aren’t there?”

He was reluctant to give me an answer. All he said was, “My brother works here. So I came here to be with him.” But somehow I thought there was more to it than that.

Anyway, I can’t see flowers happening in my room, anytime soon. But this elephant is rather cute.

By the way, my friend Nam who lives on a floor below me, also gets elephants in her room. When she knew I’d got a swan, she moaned, “How come you get a swan? And I get an elephant? Are they trying to tell me something?”

Now she will be reassured that I have had an elephant as well.

26 comments

  1. Haathi ho toh aisa ho.:-) Love it!

    (PS. I showed these – both the swan and the haathi – to my husband, and he thinks Mukhtar’s work is sheer genius, too). Thank you for sharing these – and thank Mukhtar!

  2. Wow.. That is like the cutest elephant. Lemme go to the website and try to learn something. Do you really feel like opening this up and using the towel?

  3. I love this post. The very thought that towelideas.com exists, and the industrious work ethic which brings people far from their homes to work for very little. But most of all, the elephant in your room. Such a beautiful little touch. What a clever man.

    • Thanks Kate. Mukhtar is clever.

      Yes, people often have to go very far away from their homes to work, because back in their villages, they would not even earn that much.

    • SidevieW, he is.

      There are a lot of things about this stay that will stick on in our memories. I just have to start recounting them. It’s a funny place.:)

  4. I love elephants! There was a time when we used to count the various elephants on different objet d’art in our sitting room,
    And this one is nice and cuddly, and not creepy at all:)

    • Dipali, I love elephants too. And Dhanno went through an elephant phase when she was 1 or 2, when you could make her very happy by drawing elephants for her again and again.

      Yes, this elephant did not creep me out at all.

      • I actually collect little elephants – I’ve got tiny ones made of everything from olive wood to ceramic, glass to dhokra-cast metal, pewter to brass… more than 25 of them, in fact. I look out for elephant miniatures whenever I’m travelling, and lots of family and friends have begun buying me elephants too.:-)

        • I am pretty sure I have several elephants at home, though I have made no effort to collect them. They are my most favourite animal.:)

  5. The elephant in your room could give Thama the Elephant a run for his money. So now we learn the name of the artist too. Please convey my respects to Mukhtar. I am still wondering what he used for the eyes. And why am I not surprised there is a website that he knew about?

    Hey, think about this, you got a white elephant for your anniversary – good omen – didn’t Maya Devi see Airavat in her dreams before Siddhartha was born?

    • Desi-at-large, I will let Mukhtar know. He uses towel scraps for the eyes, though the first time on the swan, it was definitely some dirt.:)

      I didn’t know about Maya Devi’s dream, but am glad I got a good omen on my anniversary.

  6. towelideas.com, eh?

    You know what? Your articles are like good Hrishikesh Mukherjee films! It makes one smile and although being light, they are still profound!

  7. Banno, my first visit – I ended up on your blogspot first before being redirected here. That elephant is cute! If you are still in touch with Mukhtiar, tell him I loved it!

    Madhu, I collect Ganeshas.:)

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