Back in the summer of 2003, I was an industrial trainee at a hotel called the Taj Residency. I was the most junior person in the organization and was literally the lowest rung of the ladder. Actually, wait. I wasn’t the lowest rung. I was the anti-skid rubber shoe stuck to the bottom of the left leg of the ladder. It was an unpaid internship, and I was doing it for the experience. As most hotel management grads know, this 6 month training is one of the most exhausting things you will ever do in your life. You work in every department of the hotel and come out tougher than a two month old Tandoori roti.
Anyway.. I was working in one of the easier departments that week – the Front Office. I was happy to be there. I’d spent the last two months slaving away in front of a massive stove, and the air conditioning was a welcome change. Even better – I was assigned to the Business Centre – a place where nothing ever happened, and all you did was “host” the morning meeting for the hotel executives. Once in a while, you’d have a guest come in to use the internet, or maybe just get a photocopy. This was awesome. I was going to savour these 6 days.
Day 1. I got to work on time and settled down at the desk. I found a wonderfully pointless game called Egg Jump installed on the computer and spent the rest of the day perfecting my Double Jump Yolk Sling technique. I was happy.
Day 2. Same as above.
Day 3. Same as above.
Day 4. We had a booking! A group of about 10 people wanted to use the business center for a bunch of meetings and interviews. No problem. I was well rested now and ready to go. I quickly scanned through the Function Prospectus and noticed that the group had asked for a color printer and a scanner – both of which our hotel did not have. I told my manager and he asked me to check if we could borrow the equipment from our ‘sister’ hotel – The Taj Krishna. I made the phone call, and it was good news! The Taj Krishna had just invested in a shiny new Fujitsu All in One printer, scanner, copier and fax. They asked me to come over and get it.
I walked up to the Krishna. Please note that I say up. I must mention at this point that both these hotels are situated in the upscale Banjara Hills area of Hyderabad. The Taj Krishna is at the top of a steep slope while the Residency is somewhere towards the middle. Anyway, I got to the Krishna and signed the required security clearance to bring this giant machine back with me. They told me to request a tempo truck from the Stores and use it to transport the thing.
This is where I encountered the first bump in the road. All four tempos were out for pickup duty and wouldn’t be back for the next two hours. I simply couldn’t wait that long! My function was set to start in 45 minutes. I called my manager and gave him the bad news. He was pissed and called me an idiot for not checking the TAC (Tempo Availability Chart) first. I guess he had a point but then again, I was a trainee straight out of the kitchen. How the fuck was I supposed to know that such a chart even existed? The reprimand stung but I suddenly saw this as an opportunity to shine. I would beat the odds and show up with the gizmo anyway. The hotel would be indebted to me forever and would eventually name a wing after me.
I did some quick mapping in my head. The staff entrance of the Taj Krishna was only about 200 meters from the guest entrance of the Taj Residency. Sure, it was on the other side of the road but still. 200 m was nothing. Now, hotel protocol states that the staff is ONLY ONLY ONLY supposed to use the staff entrance. I decided to break this protocol. I already had my gate pass so the guard didn’t really care as I carefully wheeled this bigass All In One out of the staff gate and onto the street. For all he knew, I was going to wait there for a tempo.
Things got really interesting really quickly. I crossed Banjara Hills Road No. 1 pushing this giant printer with tiny little wheels never meant to come in contact with a tar road. The traffic was stressful but I was bloody intent on pulling off this stunt. Crossed the road and took a deep breath. It was 9:30 am, the sun was out and I was beginning to sweat. Didn’t help that I was wearing a f*cking bow-tie. I couldn’t go down the hill backwards so gripped the machine from the front and began to descend the slope gingerly. It was all going good. I could see the guest entrance now and already hear my manager saying things like “I never doubted you for a second. Here Mr. Shanker, please take my desk. I am not worthy.”
I inched forward slowly and 8 minutes later made it to the gate! Victory! I was just about to wheel her home when I heard a shrill whistle. It was the security guard. He came up to me and asked what the hell I was up to. I told him what I was trying to do but it became quickly obvious that he didn’t give a shit. I tried to reason with the guy, but he simply wouldn’t allow a member of staff to use the guest entrance. Crap. This meant I’d have to wheel this damn thing for another 300 meters to get it till the staff gate. I was running out of time. I tried to appeal to the guy one last time and that’s when he did it.
The supreme idiot of mammoth proportions decided to drive his message home by whacking the side of the printer with his stick. Upon impact, the printer that was ‘parked’ on the road took off down the hill. By the time I could react, the bloody thing had gone ahead several meters and picked up speed. I sprinted after it, with the guard in hot pursuit. Like a demon possessed, it shot down the slope and past the staff entrance as well! I put everything into it, but that motherf*cker had just picked up too much momentum. It went down the hill ridiculously fast and that’s when I encountered the second bump in the road. No. Really. Captain Fujitsu hit a speed breaker. The machine launched up into the air and the whole world stood still. The guard caught up with me and we both watched the printer come crashing down onto the road. Bits of it went flying in all directions and we both over extended the phrase ‘Maa ki ch*********t’ at the exact same time. It was over. Somewhere, Michael Bay shed a tear of joy.
The now highly apologetic guard helped me collect what was left of the printer and carry it back to the hotel. We used the staff entrance because it was closer now. I got thoroughly chewed up by the management and was asked to submit an apology to four different departments. The apology letters all had to be hand written because I was not allowed near any of the printers in the damn building. I decided not to bring up the guard’s role in the whole thing. Poor guy had just gotten a little carried away doing his job. Anyway, it sucked big time for the next few weeks but in the end all was forgiven and I actually did become known as that crazy bastard who would do anything to save the day.
Like I said earlier, this was an unpaid internship so I actually ended up owing the hotel money once I was done. I eventually paid them off by working overtime but I do look back on that day rather fondly now. It was the day Fujitsu took the term ‘high speed printer’ to a whole new level.
Over and out.