An experience at Nilaya Hermitage

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Rajan P. Parrikar

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Mar 22, 2005, 1:31:15 PM3/22/05
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The Nilaya Hermitage, ensconced in the hillside
at Arpora, bills itself as an exclusive getaway,
a boutique resort of high quality. It is owned
and run by the couple Claudia Derain & Hari Ajwani.
There is no question that the Nilaya Hermitage
offers its guests surroundings of great natural
beauty and tranquility, as well as exquisite,
tasteful appointments expected of classy, deluxe
establishments. This picture postcard setting,
however, hides an ugly side, as I discovered
myself.

My wife, my father and I visited Nilaya Hermitage
in the first week of January this year for what
was intended to be a short visit to 'sample' the
place. When we arrived, my wife alighted first
while my father and I stayed behind until the car
found a parking spot. A young lady accosted my
wife right away. She had a suspicious expression
about her and inquired if we had reservations as
guests. Upon being told no, she asked the purpose
of our visit, and was told that we were there
for a short while, perhaps to take in a light
meal, and look around. So far so good.

Then she called someone on the phone and said
in Konkani that we were "merely natives, not
outsiders" (Translation: Brownies, not white
Westerners).

The young lady had assumed incorrectly that
my wife didn't understand Konkani and was
taken aback when she was confronted and asked
what she had meant by her utterance. She
backtracked, then denied she had meant
anything offensive, then offered apologetic
excuses. From her entire demeanour from the
get go (the suspicious manner in which we
were viewed when we arrived), we were convinced
that she had meant exactly what we thought
she had.

I understand the need to discourage random
curiousity seekers from coming into a private
property and disturbing the peace & privacy of
the guests. But is this the way to treat
your fellow Indians?

We can be sure that instead of us brown folks
if it had been a gaggle of white people, the
entire hotel staff would have rolled out the
red carpet and cloyingly fawned over them.

I emailed Hari Ajwani some weeks ago
describing this incident but I haven't heard
back from him yet. Probably won't. He is
perhaps too busy bending over backwards to
please his white masters.

Warm regards,


r

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