As I write, I am sitting, watching the sunset high over Juhu beach, sipping a gin and tonic, and indulging in canapés, to be followed by a glass of Chilean wine and dessert. All of this complementary. I’m in the executive lounge of Mumbai’s JW Marriot. A gift, for I on my meager backpackers budget could never afford such absurd luxuries. I am alone, and yet they’ve upgraded me to a suite, with 850 square feet, its far larger than any apartment I’ve ever lived in. I hardly know what to do with myself. I had forgotten what it felt like to be in a temperature controlled room with plush linens, a rain shower, fruit basket, free bottled water, and not a single bug in sight. When I walked in, I literally emitted something near a squeal. I’ve been giddy all day. It all feels so luxurious it’s borderline ridiculous. And I intend on enjoying every last minute of it. Which includes making an active effort to utilize the sitting room and second bathroom, lest they go to waste. But I suppose thats what $10/night guesthouses will do to a person. Sure, it’s a bit stuffy and aside from a few families with young kids I’m easily one of the few guests under 60, rolling up in an airport taxi instead of the usual Mercedes town car. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t care for luxury, the truth is while I love quaint guesthouses, love how you feel part of a small family, I am, a self proclaimed hotel-whore. I love absurdly luxurious hotels, and make a point of splurging every chance I get. And after sweating for six weeks, I think it’s about time.
Ironically, today is also the day I felt most overwhelmed. After lunch I decided to wander a mere 15 minutes to check out a Ritu Kumar boutique, I had been waiting to buy one nice souvenir for myself, and thought Mumbai would be my best bet. Though it wasn’t any more hectic than anywhere else I’ve been in India or Nepal I found myself really frustrated. I almost as if, by entering the safe refuge of my five star hotel I immediately lost my edge. I was soft. I could no longer handle what had become second nature. Everything outside of the chilled high ceilings of my hotel felt like utter chaos. I wanted to run back inside immediately. I suppose that’s the danger of these places, once you enter it becomes very hard to leave. And if you do, you feel as though a private escort might be in order. I certainly felt that way. Not trying is a very tempting and addictive method of travel, one I hope not to slip into very often. And though my initial plan was to spend tomorrow exploring south Mumbai, I feel most inclined to stay in the hotel, or at most wander to the beach.