My ‘Rahul Bose moment’ was in Dubai when the waiter brought a white plate with a flourish that had one steamed pear that was drizzled with red lines of strawberry jam.
The fruit dessert had a fancy name and it was expensive. “Do you want to share it,” I asked my wife and she refused and wanted her usual treat of ice cream and ‘Gulab Jamun’.
Ever since Bollywood actor Bose went on social media, shocked at being charged Rs442 (Dh23) for two bananas that were sent to his room in a five-star hotel where he was staying, Twitterati is having a field day, making memes and mocking the five-star hotel culture.
Some even made fun of him, while others shared the time they too were gypped.
Some other people were curiously sympathetic with the hotel management, saying that the hotel was right in charging such a huge amount for the pair of bananas as the hotels have to pay huge sums for air-conditioning and pay enormous salaries to chefs and also maintain the ambience for celebrities and businessmen.
Banana is the cheapest fruit in India and is known as the poor man’s fruit. They come in various varieties in south India, including the Yellaki, Nendran, my favourite the tiny Kapooravali, that are really sweet, the Red Banana, but all are priced cheap and you can a buy a kilo for Rs100 (Dh5.5).
But it’s not just hotels that rip you off for food and drinks. I once remember buying a bottle of water for Rs32 (Dh1.5) at an airport restaurant and vowed that I would never be cheated again.
After that incident, I always made sure to carry an empty plastic bottle (airlines still have the silly regulation that you cannot carry liquids with you through security) with me in my backpack and fill it up at the water fountain near the airport toilets, before boarding.
My wife got me this fancy sports water bottle that has a button on the cap, which you press and up comes a spout, through which you loudly sip water like a dehydrated triathlon athlete.
One day, during a hot long wait on the runway and just as soon as we took off, I proudly took out the water bottle and pressed the button. This time the spout came out and immediately turned into a mini-fountain (due to cabin pressure, I presume), wetting my pants and making my wife hysterical.
I have learned from frequent flyers to carry my own food and snacks on the plane, especially on budget airlines that charge you for every little thing, such as cold sandwiches that are fit only for zombies, and you literally pay an arm and a leg for extra leg space.
After travelling and staying in umpteen hotel rooms around the world I have also learned never to open the mini-fridge with all the beverages and goodies
My aunt was even better at saving on food when travelling and she would prepare the scrumptious ‘shaami kabab’ (patties of minced mutton), and roti, Indian flat bread, whenever the family had to travel. As soon as the train took off from the station, the cloth that wrapped the plates with the food to keep them warm, was ripped off and everyone devoured the patties and bread.
After travelling and staying in umpteen hotel rooms around the world I have also learned never to open the mini-fridge with all the beverages and goodies. Only when you check out that you will know that your indulgence is going to cost you!
Now I nonchalantly go out of the hotel, walk to the nearest grocery and buy tea, milk, drinking water, and bananas and hide my treasures when I walk back to my room through the grand lobby.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi