My friend and travel-guru Jaya introduced us to Club Mahindra, a chain of five-star resorts catering to Indian families instead of foreign tourists. Their properties are each beautifully developed and tailored to their locations. But whether in individual bungalows surrounded by water and lovely little bridges, or a mountain village, or an old palace, there are two things each Club Mahindra resort has in common:
- Towel animals on our bed
- The FunZone
My working theory is that some Mahindra executive’s kid accidentally got an MBA, and came back with all kinds of ideas on how to attract hip young affluent resort guests. Instead of looking at their guest demographics (or maybe just in hopes of sidelining MBA-Jr’s damage potential), the FunZone concept was born. Why did I care? Because the one place in each resort that offers space, wifi, isolation, wifi, lots of power outlets, AND WIFI is… the FunZone. (**Have I mentioned that I really, REALLY like wifi?)
Since most resort guests are either middle-aged patrons who only enter the FunZone to send email or
stalk family members check Facebook, or young families just before putting children to bed, I usually had the FunZone’s wifi all to myself. Until, that is, it was time for The Program. In fact, the only people remotely inhabiting the age zone targeted by The Program tape (slightly out of date American pop songs played at decibel levels guaranteed to strip hearing from a teenage audience) are the mercilessly cheerful Fun Zone Program tape purveyors themselves.
The first night this happened, we retreated in shock to our room and our earplugs. In our next resort stop, I called the front desk and asked if they could stop The Program, as I could see that the room was empty except for the karaoke attendants. No dice.
Then came the third resort. When the unmistakable sounds of The Program accompanied by laser strobe lighting signaled the exodus of every FunZone patron, I had enough. I went up to the teenaged tape-wielders and asked them to turn it off.
The two young men (who had costumed for The Program by replacing their military-ish uniforms with t-shirts, sunglasses, and baseball caps turned backwards) told me that wouldn’t be fair to all the other people who would be expecting The Program.
This wasn’t a job for Mrs. Nicey-Nice. I needed to find a (virtual) phone booth and change into my alter ego, SuperMom—able to leap specious arguments in a single bound, scare football hooligans into sitting quietly and using their indoor voices, and fight for truth, justice, and wifi.
Barb/Mom: “Look around this room.”
Program Tape Purveyors: [obediently follow my pointing finger] “Yes, Madam.”
Barb/Mom: “Do you see anybody enjoying The Program?”
PTPs: [Visible flinch] “No, Madam.”
Barb/Mom: “Do you see anybody at all besides us?”
PTPs: “No Madam.”
Barb/Mom: “Then Turn. It. Off. Please. You are perfectly welcome to turn it back on the second a Justin Bieber fan comes in begging for a fix.”
PTPs: [Removing baseball caps, sunglasses, and The Program tape.] “Yes Madam.”
The next day when Jaya and I went in to use the wifi, she said the attendants turned pale and pointed at me. [Oh, no—who let that Mom in here again?] They leaped to turn off the music and turn on the lights, whispering warnings that Madam was back. FunZone victory was mine, and it was sweet but fleeting.
Now a year later, with the disco lights pulsing and The Program music blaring, we went grimly to the Reception desk and begged for a room as far from The FunZone as possible.
And that brings us to item two, those towel animals. Ever since we came back to our room and found this first little guy waiting for us, we’ve been treated to towel monkeys, butterflies, hearts, swans, and other whimsical towel creations. Sadly, on this trip we kept returning to our Club Mahindra room each day to find our towels sedately rolled in the bathroom instead of impersonating jungle creatures on our bed.
Then came the wonderful day when we arrived to find a towel animal waiting for us at last. But… there is a problem. One of us looked at it and saw an elephant. To the other, it was a swan.
We need you to break the tie. Please vote on our poll. As added incentive, we’ll choose someone at random from the winning votes to receive a fabulous prize from India. (I can’t exactly remember what I have with me from India, but I’m sure there will be something amazing there…)
So vote early! One vote per person (unless, of course, you’re from Chicago where multiple votes—especially by deceased voters—are traditional.)