Time travelling back to yesteryear Taj Connemara
“Does this diary belong to anyone around here?” asked the newly arrived guest staying in one of the heritage suites at the newly renovated Taj Connemara Hotel on Chennai’s Binny Road. “I found it under the four-poster bed along with the chamber pot.”
“Chamber pot!” exclaimed the young trainee at the reception desk. “That’s not possible. We have installed the latest in international plumbing standards in all our en-suite bathrooms, with special bathtubs, shower cubicles with hot and cold water.”
“That’s what the diary recommends,” said the guest. “It’s written by a Lady Connemara, after which your hotel is named I am told.”
She says and I quote from the diary, “The hotel provides free ice and hot baths for all its guests. I am so glad to have left the dusty old Governor’s house with its bad plumbing and its mosquitoes, lizards and dear me the cry of the jackals at night. It’s called the Imperial Hotel now. But one day, it will be named after me. Of course, people will assume that it’s named after Robert Bourke, the first Baron of Connemara, who is greatly beloved here as the Governor of Madras. He installed the first sanitation works in the city and started building a library that will be named after him.”
“I expect they are not going to call it Hotel Gertrude which is my first name. Somehow it does not have the same grandeur as Hotel Connemara, does it?” she writes in another diary entry.
“I think I should join the #Me Too campaign that is all the vogue these days. After all it was Bobby who started it, first having a fling with Lady Ava Quin. Of course, she pretended that since I was spending so much of my time in Ootacamund with my own Dr Briggs she had to step in and be the hostess at Government House. Then, of course, there were rumours of that dalliance with my dear Hannah. Fiddlesticks as we say in Ireland. Bring on the fiddlers and let’s have another round in the newly renovated Connemara Ballroom.”
“What I dearly love are not just the beautifully refurbished rooms, or the Geoffrey Bawa wing, or the Devils on Horseback nibbles in the coffee shop, but the splendid bar. And at last the Taj Group of Hotels, bless their hearts, have recognised my contribution and named it the “Lady Connemara Bar”. “A cocktail named ‘The Gertrude’ would be rather nice, don’t you think?"
“Brilliant!” said the hotel guest. “Famous hotels like famous women never die. They simply get a face-lift and sail into another era.”
(This is a glimpse back in time of the recently renovated Taj Connemara, as told through an imagined lost diary based on recorded rumours)