We met on Monday morning. Enough paper strewn about the table to make me cringe all morning. But a bright "G'morning!" changed all that. A brief conversation and I was off on my amble to the office - Day 1.
Shekhar promised he'd see me at dinner. Promised kya, he had little choice but to. I was hungry by 8:30 so didn't bother waiting. Besides he was busy on a call and I had a PG Wodehouse for company.
What began as a casual exchange about humorists went on to a serious discussion on our favourite writers, films, music, existential topics, microfinance... I sang some, we laughed some more... He told me about his best friend Rafaq and his wedding, I told him about a former Accounts Comptroller General of India. He made funny faces. I sang some more... I told him I was scared - well at least apprehensive. He said I couldn't ask for more.
I've stayed in guest houses aplenty. Some from L&T, and others as guests of employees. Citibank. Lalbhai Realty. Arvind Mills. Fancy, well kept, expensive upholstery and even classier gadgets. Yet something was always amiss.
And then I arrived at the ToI guest house. The security men have been overwhelmingly polite and well behaved and even cheerful. So have the caretaker and cook. The morning actually becomes good when they wish you. Bunch of Oriyas all. Rather scared of being ousted for any inane reason that the supervisor fancies. Safe.
The place itself is rather simple. The linen's all local. None of that synthetic, heavy stuff that reeks after the first fortnight and is hard to weild. Cotton weaves. Handloom. Simple white sheets to sleep on. Just the way I like it. Just what puts me to sleep.