The pleasant man smiled at me and repeatedly said 'ok' as I was screaming at him waving my credit card with a continuous banter of Malayalam and English. I speak a bit of malayalam and I thought it was an advantage. Apparently not.
We decided to stopover at Kalpetta in the Wayanad District of North Kerala before we hit Guruvayoor. Wayanad, popularly known as 'whynotf' ( keep the 'f' and prounounce it by letting out air through your lips as they close - like air brakes in a bus), amid Malayalees. So, with some help from friends living around there we got a booking at a place called Haritagiri smack in the centre of Kalpetta - the district headquarters. Downtown Kalpetta is a little over 23 shops, a few houses and a lot of bearded Malayalee men with a serious attitude.
Haritagiri main building looked like a boring census office that got a recent makeover with clip-on tile roofs and pre-gummed terracotta murals. We got ourselves a non AC twin bedroom cottage for five adults and two kids next to the pool. The pool was dull green in colour and you could not see beyond the second row of small tiles on the pool wall. I would not jump into it unless the state sanitation department and the pollution control board sent a Nair each to personally talk me into it. The cottage was clean and the food was divine with 'Erachi Olathiyathu' (beef dry cooked with a lot of curry leaves and black pepper for the uninitiated) emerging a clear winner.
I loved the place till I tried to check out. I politely told the lady at the counter that we are checking out. She looked at for a few loaded seconds as if I asked her to explain the most crucial snitch in quantum dynamics. Then she composed herself and said 'ok' and smiled. From then the plot goes downhill. In short - they charge me for three extra beds for five adults over two double beds, they add that the children are not charged, the extra bed charges are for an AC room, their credit card machine does not work, the repair man is coming from a star in a galaxy far away, they call the manager - a pleasant man with a smile, he gives me a discount on the room tariff and the tax is on the old tariff and here as if on cueI break into a breathless banter.
Eventually I paid all the cash I had, the change I keep in the car, a bottle of dandruff shampoo, some bananas and ran before they routed for my kids.