When five-star hotels give you bananas, please don’t do a Rahul Bose!
Received wisdom says that life gives you lemons, not bananas.
With Rahul (no, no, not Rahul G) the lemon that life gave him was a banana. It is the generosity of nature; nature decides how she mixes it. Bose, no, not Neta G, found himself humming a Meatloaf song: “Life is a banana and I want my money.”
When I contacted the President of the Banana Republic, he clarified his position: “We bananas are a proud fruit. Bananas mean different things in different cultures. For years, across the world, the banana has been the defining symbol of the erotic imagination. On Tinder, the eggplant emoji has replaced us, but we’re determined to get back to our former glory. A vegetable is not a fruit.
In specific reference to Rahul Bose, he said, “In Hindi, when life gives you lemons, you say ‘Kela ho gaya, yaar’. Rs 442 for two bananas is excessive. We will raise the issue with the Marriott at the highest level.
Following our conversation, an investigation was ordered by the Chandigarh administration into the VAT levied on bananas, and the hotel was ordered to pay a fine of Rs 25,000.
Meanwhile, the furor around the banana couple remarkably ignored the banana couple themselves.
When I reached out to the lovely couple, they said, “We’ve been maturing together for years. We’re glad Rahul Bose photographed us but didn’t break our jodi. If he had eaten us, we would have been full of stomachs in minutes. Although in our old age we can do without fame. From now on, we’re safe on Marriott’s plate. We have a request to the hotel: if you can be kind enough to pass it on; can you please turn down the air conditioning? When we shiver, the plate slams along with our dentures.
Bose, apparently, was so shaken that he then took refuge in the Marriott bar, with an even higher bill.
He was rumored to have been joined by Diljit Dosanjh who played him his hit song, ‘5 Taara’ (Five Star), which is about a guy from Chandigarh who drinks his blues (and his frustration) in a bar in five-star hotel, when he learns his girlfriend abandons him and leaves for England: ‘Khufiya reportan ni tu jana England/ Hague ni jana England ni/Ni tera sara gussa aaha/ Panj tara theke uthe beh k utaareya/ Main tera sara gussa.’
Inadvertently, the banana threshing also served the function of refreshing our memory about Rahul Bose. I bought a dozen bananas and wolfed them down, and as the serotonin skyrocketed, I thought of Rahul Bose.
There are three main images. The first is of Bose playing Upamanyu Chatterjee’s iconic hero Agastya Sen in Dev Benegal’s English, August.
Agastya is depicted indulging herself, possibly while simultaneously smoking a doobie. Said banana is covered. It was the first time we had seen such naughty things portrayed on screen. We then had to wait twenty-five years until Swara Bhaskar’s character made her Agastya’s on-screen accomplice in Veere Di Marriage.
Life can get too lavish. (Photo: Still from English, August)
This was all before Karan Johar turned masturbation into a national joke on Lust stories.
The second image I have of Rahul Bose is of his character haggling with a rickshaw driver in Pyar Ke Side Effects, during the film’s climactic chase. The argument is that motorists in Delhi do not go by the meter. Seen in this light, Bose’s current tweet about badly dosed bananas definitely had its place.
How is the counter running? (Photo: Screenshot by Pyaar Ke Side Effects)
One can imagine Bose in the back of a car, as the meter reads the rapidly changing price of a banana on the stock market. When it hits four hundred, Bose yells, “Stop the car. I no longer take this bananarama.
The third image is from the Sunday papers of Rahul’s new avatar as a rugby player, a sport that mostly consists of banana-shaped props that aggressively collide and get crushed.
Panic button: Bose set a bad example by pressing it on the price of bananas. (Picture: Facebook)
Which brings us to five-star hotels and their alluring trappings. Standing in a five-star room, I always felt like a prisoner in someone else’s palace.
Determining what is complementary and what is not is always walking a tightrope. And I’m not talking about the shampoo and the sewing kit. The fruit bowl in the room is often free. The fruit bowl in the hotel lobby — I’m not so sure. The lobby newspapers are certainly free: eat as many as you want.
Drink as much tea and coffee as you want. Bags will be replenished. The panic button next to the bathtub is reserved for emergencies.
Bose set a bad example by putting pressure on the price of bananas. It’s like pulling the chain on a train because you suddenly realize someone has taken your wallet. Not finished.
The five stars have their shortcomings. Exploit them. In my twenties, a friend introduced me to coffee at Taj Land’s End in Bombay. You ordered a cup and got endless refills at no extra cost.
As we left, the stomach was boiling with acid; a soothing banana was what we craved at those times.
During bedfests, I faced the problem of missing the paid buffet breakfast. And so the free bananas. Often the five stars are in the middle of nowhere; we find ourselves blocked and obliged to order the dosa, which costs a large. The trick here is to pull into the hotel parking lot and make friends with the lounging drivers. One of them will tell you where they eat.
It’s usually a great cheap place tucked away in the surrounding area, unseen and unheard of.
Sometimes in hotel rooms I found myself having WaiWai instant noodles with 24 hour hot water, although a more snobby person might remind you: this is a hotel, not a hostel . There are rumors that WaiWai, inspired by Bose’s outrage, plans to release precooked bananas.
You can always smuggle food and drink from outside, but hotels frown on that. I was once taken to the duty manager’s office for trying to smuggle three pints of UB Export, a lager available only in Bangalore off licence, but not in the hotel fridge, which stocked imported Heineken. I was stopped by the x-ray machine. I explained to him like a wandering schoolboy that I really wanted to try this beer because it had been highly recommended to me. He replied: ‘Okay, only this time’ and let it pass.
Like Bose, I wasn’t going to let go so easily. As soon as the manager turned his head, I slid the metal plate that bore the caption “Duty Manager” onto his table and straight into my bag with the beers.
It now adorns my desk.
While he stole my dignity, I stole his identity.