City Life – A Hotel Room, Paharganj
The world inside a hotel room.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Sunlight is streaming in through the blue curtains. The double bed is crowded with four pillows. A small coffee table looks lonesome with two glasses. An ash tray smells of cold cigarettes. And a chair by the window is overlooking the Main Bazar. A hotel room in Paharganj is like an escape from Delhi.
The advantages of this backpacker’s district crammed with cheap hotels aren’t only for the backpackers to explore. College-going Delhiites often take up rooms here — sometimes for a day of intimacy with a friend, or just to cocoon themselves from the humdrum of daily life.
There have been instances when Delhi University students put themselves up in a Paharganj hotel room for long stretches of time. Here, they live alone like independent souls, enjoying the thrill of navigating their city like a tourist.
This hotel room in the Main Bazar is a fair representation of the area’s average hotel room. Somebody has just checked out—a woman from Belgium, the receptionist informed. The bedsheet is crumpled. An ATM bill is in the basket. A towel is lying on the chair.
The guest left just some minutes ago and a sense of her life still lingers. The visiting card of a hotel in Kochi is in a drawer. Then there’s a painting hanging on the wall. It depicts a rutty track fading into a whitegreen sky. This wall decoration says something. Hundreds of people may have slept in this room over the years. Some thoughts might have stirred in those whose eyes chanced upon this painted scenery. Just that realisation fills up the painting with the gazes of all those unknown Paharganj guests, including the unknown person from Belgium. The room no longer feels empty.
Just checked out