I am just returning from my two days program, organized in Ujjain, the famous city of Madhya Pradesh. The place where people come to worship Lord Shiva the Hindu deity of creation, and absolute symbol of contradiction.
I had stayed in a rest house in Ujjain . In India rest houses denote a special notion, government officials and politicians use it. I always had a special connection with rest houses, which goes back to my study time. I love these rest houses; the reason for which I like to stay in rest house is pretty simple. They are situated in the heart of city and they are so simple, by default ecological, architects of these rest houses were so creative, notion of historic simplicity. When the organizer asked me where I would like to stay, I said very promptly “ Rest house” if possible. I was replied back sure!
I reached early hours in Ujjain, the station was shredded with rubbish all over and I was really shocked to know that this is the city of Lord Shiva. Of course, tourism specially domestic one is always there, lots of people come to pray Lord Shiva. The deity is one of the 12 Lord Shiva symbol (Known as Jyotirlinga) spread in India. This city also hosts the Kumbh Mela. Local government had not paid any attention to the cleanliness of the city where people come to clean themselves.
I was taken to Rest house and I had a good feeling to know one more rest house of India, and to realize the simple nature of living. The rest house was situated in Free Ganj which had its own version of history. When the Scindhia’s were ruling the Ujjain, they created a space where any one can settle and do business; no tax was imposed on this place and known as Free Ganj.
Normally all the rest houses where I had stayed were furnished with simple furniture and beautifully decorated with local stuffs, a kind of high ceiling which can fill the space of our inner soul. Big bathroom were always present by default in all the rest houses were I stayed in past.
As soon as I entered in the rest house of Ujjain, managed by public welfare department, I had a feeling to be wrong, felt like all my imaginations are going to be futile in this place. I got to know that the repair work was on the move. Since I had not entered in the room I felt like this is the truth.
I entered in the room, I felt like moving in another horizon, which I had not known. The room was spacious but the furniture was breathing its last life. The repair work was long back finished but still one can see the left over of work popping out of the wall by mere glance of cement, where white wash was not done. The bathroom was dark, the tap was leaking, there was some sort of problem with sewage too, it was smelly and things were black inside. I thought it was not cleaned so did a cleaning but afterwards I got to realize that it is the dust which is coming in the bathroom and making it darker than its floor.
I was shifted in a better room in the evening after I had done my program. A kind of better room where furniture was much better than the first one. Meanwhile, I was asked by one of my friend Manish Malani who came to see me to go in a better hotel which is much spacious with gardens and so on. I refused his proposal on behalf to see the inside out of the rest house story of this city.
When I went to the bathroom of my new room I realized that the sewage was not working properly and that the toilet was very smelly. The curtain seems to be left hanging since ages, one can see the dark layer of dust on them. I had someone who was coming to clean the room once in a day but was not making enough sense because the dust was keep popping in by several ways.
I talked with one of the manager cum assistant of the rest house; I asked him why this great rest house was being left in this position. He replied back saying that if it is going to be good, how the hotels can make money where all the visitors specially government official and politician stay and bill is paid by government. Ujjain gets a lot of visitors from all across, a lot of politicians and officials come to pray to Ujjain. If rest house would be good enough they do not need to stay in the hotels but being in this condition no one stays in the rest house so the business of hotels is running well.
I felt very upset knowing the dirt behind the scene, which was helping to have dust in my room. I was worried about the future of rest houses in Madhya pradesh.
The corruption seems to be entering in the lives of rest houses too. I had no answer to my self, I tried to call the PWD officer in charge but he was out of station. At last I said to one of my friend who is aspiring to become a member of local assembly of the state and have lots of words, to say to these officials to make this rest house a real one. He said “ Vivek ji, it was worst, now we are doing something”