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Roger Wolens writes about the delights of India – environmental and otherwise

 

Our tour included three separate stays at The Claridge’s, which tries in every way to emulate its London namesake.

Certainly it creates a good first impression with staff efficiency, tasteful decor, manicured lawns 24-hour restaurant, prompt room service, etc.

It caters for the local Smart Set, and every one or our visits coincided with a colourful wedding party hiring the main function room.

November/December is the peak of the wedding season – not for any tax advantages; simply because the couples’ adviser/astrologers invariably pick this season as ‘the most auspicious time’ for a happy future together.

The less romantic suggest it is because the couple are likely to share the new wedding bed more intimately when the temperatures are lower.

But the heavens play a prominent part in Indian lives (be sure to visit Delhi Observatory Park for a remarkable Alice in Wonderland experience) and there is no shortage of custom for the throngs of fortune-tellers.

Why would there be when, for two rupees, they will predict a future worth two million? All of them!

There is a choice of four restaurants in the hotel, offering Chinese, international and local cuisine – a sort of Delhi-catessen! The staff are quite understanding too.

A Scottish member of our party found his funds running low on the last night, and when the waiter inquired if he would like a sweet, he asked “How much do I owe you so far?”

A quick calculation, a quick look at his wallet, and he chose a piece of gateau.

Like the honest Scot he was, when the bill arrived he pointed out that they had not charged for the cake. “It’s on the house,” smiled the sympathetic waiter.

You wouldn’t get that at Claridge’s in London, and how the Indians ever understood his broad Scots accent is beyond me. I never could.

The only downside to the hotel for me was that we always seemed to get a noisy room.

From one you could hear the all-night taxi rank outside; another was next to a cleaning supplies store which, for some reason, was regularly visited during the hours of darkness.

I must say that my experience was not typical of the group, and my wife slept quite well. Perhaps it’s just me.