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Thursday, August 1, 2019

decorum of stay ~ lifting of goods from hotel !!


In 2015 furious after South Africa piled on the agony by scoring 438 runs at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium against India, team director Ravi Shastri abused the curator of the pitch Sudhir Naik,  for producing a wicket that offered hardly any assistance to the Indian spinners, primarily.  In a similar instance, in a ODI,   Sudhir Naik, the curator at Wankhede Stadium, Sudhir Naik lodged a complaint against Ravi Shastri but later  agreed to withdraw his complaint against India team director Ravi Shastri and bowling coach B Arun over their alleged outbursts – it was reported that Mumbai Cricket Association vice-president Dilip Vengsarkar had met with Naik and Shastri and advised both parties to "bury the matter" that had come about as a result of a "misunderstanding."

Sudhir Naik had represented India [3 tests & 2 ODIs] (in 3 Tests 6 innings he scored a 74 and 44) – debuted at Birmingham in that disastrous tour of 1974 and played his last test at Calcutta against WI in Dec 1974.    He did well in Ranji scoring 2687 @ 40.10 with a double ton against Baroda.  His name was mired after he reportedly caught shop-lifting two pair of socks at M&S on the Oxford Street.  He had led  Bombay to an unexpected Ranji Trophy triumph in 1970-71, a side depleted by star players away in India’s WI tour. 

This is no post on Cricket – we do stay in hotels on official tours  and personal trips – you see – stationery (paper, covers),  pens, pencils, soaps, shampoos, shower caps, spoons, shaving set, tooth brush, paste  and more – some have the habit of stuffing some goodies into their personal suitcases – might be tempting but we do not know what's off-limits – some well informed hospitality sources say that among things that are okay to take with you are- couple of chocolates, sugar packets,  shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and other bathroom amenities, bathroom slippers, stationery, logo pens, notepaper, postcards, and envelopes that are left for your use and can be packed away for later – but not cutleries, cups, pillow covers, towels or anything of such nature ! [it is better not to take any of them ! – consume or use whatever is required during stay but not take them away]

Leading travel platform, ixigo’s info-commercial video on ‘Stuff you can take from hotels’  went  viral over the weekend in light of the recent incident surrounding hotel etiquette. The video which was conceptualised and produced in-house, showcases a useful guide for hotel guests on what they can and cannot take from a hotel room in a humorous format. According to the company, ixigo’s in-house research team discovered that a lot of travellers are in a grey area when it comes to what's okay and what's off-limits to take home from your hotel room. ixigo’s research with tarvellers and hotel partners alike showed that guests often take towels, irons, hairdryers, cable boxes, clock radios, blankets, paintings, ashtrays, TV remote controls and even pillows—all of which are not meant to be removed from the rooms.

Moving away, a web search on this led to a report in Outlook India on an embarrassing incident in Jan 2018  involving a State entourage.  The report reads that the  security staff at the luxury hotel in London was in a dilemma. CCTV cameras were live streaming what appeared to be guests – who were attending an official dinner at the conference hall – flicking silverware from the large table around which they sat and stealthily stuffing them into bags and purses placed on their laps.They debated whether they should raise an alarm but they didn’t want to embarrass the dignitary in whose honour the dinner had been thrown. Not only was she a VVIP guest at the hotel but she was the chief minister of the Indian state of West Bengal who was in London on an official tour. The other visitors seated around the large table included a host of prominent citizens both from India and the UK and included politicians, industrialists and journalists.

As for the Indian scribes they were all senior editors, handpicked by their organizations to accompany the CM on this very important tour. That they would be polishing off the cutlery along with the delicacies served was quite unthinkable, given that they were supposed to be the famed “conscience keepers” and the “fourth pillar” of the thriving democracy that India is. But the CCTV footage was rolling and it was clearly happening.Allegedly the first to pick a set of dessert spoons off the table and into his pocket was a senior journalist, a reporter with a respected Bengali newspaper. Confirming this to Outlook, another senior journalist, the editor of another news publication, who was part of the delegation, said that this particular reporter was a regular on Banerjee’s foreign tours.

According to some reports, several other scribes, who had noticed him, didn’t want to miss out on the loot and followed suit perhaps erroneously thinking that they would get away with it. That the hidden CCTV cameras were capturing their every move didn’t occur to them.  “Or they possibly thought that the cameras wouldn’t be working anyway as is often the case in Bengal,” quipped another member of the Bengali team of journalists, clearly taking a dig at Bengal’s notorious infrastructural shortcomings.

After much pondering the security staff decided to quietly inform the journalists that they had been watching them and knew what they were doing and requested them to put the stolen items back on the table. Most of them felt ashamed and returned the silver.  Only one gentleman however apparently refused to admit that he had stolen anything and even dared the staff to search his pockets. But what he didn’t realize however, according to some reports, was that the CCTV cameras captured him putting all his loot into the bag of another fellow journalist from Bengal hoping that he, instead of himself, would be blamed.

That was the point when the hotel had had enough and told him that he would be reported to the police unless he cooperated. Eventually he confessed and was let off after paying a fine of 50 pounds.  Though the newspaper house for which he works declined to comment on the incident other than to say, as did one of its senior editors when contacted by Outlook, “Yes, it’s true,” the news apparently spread like wildfire within the Indian community in London.

According an account by a Bengali journalist, this particular man has a “habit of regularly pilfering cutlery and other goods from hotels during foreign tours though this is the first time he got caught.” He goes to the extent of claiming that this man “is a cheapskate who stays in economy hotels to save money but reaches the star hotel of the CM so that he could partake of the free and lavish breakfast served there.” Clearly though, he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth in the world of journalism, but had a knack for knowing how to get it.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
31st July 2019.

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