Marie and I reach Rishikesh after a nauseating but beautiful ride through the mountains overlooking the gorgeous emerald of the Ganga. We spot a couple of signboards for cottages and guest houses that we recognized from the guidebook as cheap places to stay. Marie waits downhill as I carry myself and my yellow bitchsack of a handbag up the hill to EVERY single guest house there was.
At the first, called New Bhandari Swiss Cottage , if you please, I ask for a room and they take one look at me and say ' No rooms'. I walk up to the next one called 'New Swiss Cottage'. They refuse me.
I go to Mama guest house where a sweet Nepali waiter guides me to meet the Mama who he says will show me the room. When I meet Mama, she takes one look at me and says there are no rooms.
I can see that half their rooms are vacant. Discouraged, I walk on anyway and try THREE other places and I am refused everywhere. In my head, I am sure it is because I am Indian. I went back downhill and asked Marie to go try.
So, she goes up to the first place, New Bhandari ''Swiss Cottage'' and gets shown a room immediately.
I am so angry and humiliated by this point that all I am thinking of is wanting to ''fuck their happiness''. So we go and check in anyway because of the lack of options.
At the reception the guy is kind of shocked to see me again with Marie and refuses to meet my eye. I ask the guy why he lied to me about there being no vacant rooms. He tells me that Indians are not allowed. I told him that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of nationality. He says that according to rules, he cannot take in Indians (Presumably, he allowed me because a) If I am the friend of a white person, I am safe? b) He just felt awkward about throwing me out and risked losing Marie as a potential customer.
I continue to argue with him when he finally says ''Madam , since you insist so much , I have to tell you that these guys come from Delhi and disturb the Goras- the goras hate them.'
I am somewhat flattered to think that he believed that I had as much power as a ''bunch of guys'' from Delhi but seriously, why would I a young woman alone be a threat to his stupid Swiss cottage?
How can we be treated like this in our own country? Over breakfast , I tried to rationalize it wondering if those people from Delhi he talked about really caused havoc. But then, you can't generalize and I am still really angry and humiliated. What was the right way to respond? Just say that I didn't want the room or insist on my right to stay.