Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Nothing comes free in NYC

December 9, 2015: I arrived in New York on Sunday December 8. This time I checked in to stay at the Bridges hotel instead of One UN New York - Millennium Hotels & Resorts.
The standard of service at the Millennium Hotel is going down day by day and apart from its location, there's hardly anything good. My flight landed early morning and the room was not ready due to cent per cent occupancy at Bridges. I walked for some time and took a taxi to an Indian food area in Lexington and after having a round and some food I came back to the hotel.
In the evening I had an appointment with Rajeev Mehta - a doctor whose family owns the Staybridges Hotel - to watch at the Broadway. We decide to go for Lion King. I heard a lot about this Broadway production and that it was a favourite of the children. I had missed it twice in London as something had come up at the last minute. The make up and attire of cast in this production is worth a watch.
The next day (Dec 9) I went to the New York University to deliver a presentation-cum-lecture on the effect of literature on Bollywood. Many of the students of South Asian Department were there, mainly Hindi and Urdu speaking. After delivering a presentation on tiger I got a request from the New York University again on this particular topic.
I was glad that I was able to do justice with my presentation as the faculty was quite happy with the content. For few students, some of the Hindi words that I had used were difficult to understand.
However, overall it was good for all of them, including the faculty. It was a new piece of information for them to know that there were four versions of the film Devdas and not just two. They thought that Dilip Kumar and SRK had acted in the old and new versions. In fact, there was a very old silent version of the movie and a popular one in which Kundan Lal Sehgal had played the character of Devdas from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya's novel of same name.
Today (Dec 9), I had a strange experience. A colleague of mine, staying at the posh Grand Hyatt at the Grand Central Station, carried a box for me from Kolkata. She told the conceierge that she wanted to leave the box with them so that I could pick it up in a couple of hours. The concierge suggested to her to leave the box at another department of the Hotel called `Mail Box' which handled such issues.
USD 10 bill
She left that box for me which I later picked up. But much to my surprise, the Mail Box department charged her USD 10 just to keep that box even though she was staying in the same property for a week.
This is quite bizarre and I have never ever experienced or heard of such a thing before. When I inquired about this from the person at the counter in that small room called Mail Box department, I was told that it was a hotel policy.
Further inquiries revealed that few hotels in the world have started this Mail Box business and guests can no longer leave an envelope with the Bell Desk or the concierge. Instead, they have to shell out for the Mail Box service.
I gather that many complaints have been filed online with travel sites on this system. But well that's New York. Nothing comes free here.
ess bee

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