June 24, 2005
The unit allocated to us was a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and a toilet. There was a 4- to 4.5-foot-long bath tub in the bathroom. In the kitchen, all the vessels generally required for Indian/Chinese/Continental cooking were available. The microwave was, of course, there. There was a charge of Rs.150 for the gas hob. We found the extra charge quite reasonable and went for it immediately. The living room was huge. It had a glass-top dining table, four dining chairs, paintings on the wall, and a sofa-cum-bed. The curtains were beautiful, and the colour scheme matched the sofa. There was a TV, but the reception was poor on most of the days. The number of channels available were less than what one is used to in Mumbai, but it hardly matters because there are a lot of things one can do outside.
There was also a beautiful, small semicircular veranda. On the outside, we could see large manicured lawns, trees loaded with dates (within easy reach from our first-floor unit). A welcome letter was waiting for us on the centre (tea) table near the sofa - a welcome drink also arrived shortly after. The person told us about all the important rules, timings, and facilities available. The person in charge of the reception had also done the same thing, and the attendant at the clubhouse also, we found, did the same. This was a very good thing, and we were happy that although the place looked huge (48 acres or more), we were almost ready for it on the first day itself.
This area of the holiday club has the reception, bistro (the small restaurant), the lounge, the grocery and the vegetable shop, and the housekeeping office. The reception has a small but very good collection of books – on yoga, cookery, philosophy, etc., in addition to fiction and books for children. There is a small collection of video CDs in English, as well as Hindi. The books can be hired for free, but there is a charge of Rs.200 for one day for three video CDs and the player.
The grocery shop has all the groceries, condiments, spices, coffee, tea, fresh milk bread, eggs, and butter, etc. Vegetables are available aplenty, but the fruits and sweets had to be ordered a day in advance. Sweetened as well as unsweetened yogurt was available on most of the days. The lounge had a huge TV and good sitting area comprised of cane-wood furniture. It was good to sit there if you were caught in the rains when near the arcade. All around the arcade, there are some private bungalows. There are beautifully made large figurines made of cement mortar at many places. Chairs and tables – some with games like carrom board on them are interspersed – one could order tea or sandwiches The view through the pillars - of the bungalows, gardens around them, bright big flowers, and the beautiful figurines and fountains made us come here nearly on all the days. Arcade is the place you would come to if you have to make enquiries.
This was the highlight of the stay. The unit is kept clean. The people come twice in a day to do the beds – fold the sofa-cum-bed, etc. They even washed the utensils. For a small sum you find maids working in the nearby private bunglows who can wash your clothes in your bathroom (at rates much much cheaper than the in-house laundry) and also do the cooking. If you are going out, it is quite safe to leave the key. When you come back, you find the food ready and waiting for you. The staff is polite and professionally trained. There is a little language problem though. We were asking about the village life from one of the housekeeping staff who was raised up by Mother Teresa’s missionaries of charity. When he went home he brought for us a large bag of locally available fruit from his garden. Such is the love and warmth showered on you. The bed-sheets, the towels were always clean. The toiletries, including toothpaste, were replenished daily. The soap for cleaning the utensils was also replenished when required.
From journal A Fortnight in Raichak