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Moral Policing in Indian Hotels

August 15, 2013

It has been a hectic few weeks of travel. As much as I love to travel, today I will enjoy the comfort of my bed, my quilt and quietness of the city. I do like traveling… the meeting new people, discovering new roads, new food joints, different things about each city… I even like the airports and some times, the bus stations.

The toughest part of traveling currently are the hotels. Real estate in the Indian metro cities is expensive, thereby expensive hotels. Staying in hotels like The Grand Hyatt, Marriot, The Park etc is way out of my budgets. What I can afford would be reasonable, small hotels in clean areas. I do not mind roughing it… all I ask for is a clean bed and a sparkling clean bathroom, and yes, safe.

I’ve done a fair bit of work-related travel in the past few months, with my partner and colleague. Being your own boss means you need to make your own arrangements for everything, and I’ve also grown a little wiser and would rather book rooms ahead of time instead of trying to come up with a place on the fly. Just keeping things simple.

But three times now, in different cities, we have been denied a room for a simple reason – they do not rent rooms to unmarried people. Okay, that’s  not true. They are perfectly happy to rent two rooms but refuse to rent a single room to two people of different genders.

It does not matter if you have a prior booking that clearly states your names. It does not matter if it is a corporate booking. If you are not married, you cannot share a room. For “Security Reasons”.

The first time this happened, we were amused. When we called to book a room for two people, the person on the other end clearly stated they do not rent rooms to ‘unmarried couples’. 

The second time, we were rather indignant. The manager at the hotel in question said the ‘government law’ does not allow unmarried people (a man and woman) to share a room. When asked about unmarried foreign couples renting such rooms, he said the law is not applicable to them. So the government is either trying to protect my chastity or doesn’t give a damn about foreigners getting into trouble. Of course, the manager added, if our parents would call and vouch for us and say it is okay to give us a room, they’d be quite happy to give us a room. My mom is more powerful than the government. 

The third time this happened, we were rather pissed. We were traveling exclusively on work, had a prior confirmation. The hotel, of course, assumed me to be a man. The duty ‘manager’ mumbled and mumbled without giving us any answer about our reservation till we nearly shouted. Then he mumbled that since my last name did not match my partner’s, they could not give us a room. “We do not give a room to couples unless they are married.”

The problem here was he did not even bother to check if we were married. He just assumed since my last name did not match my partner’s, we weren’t married. Or if was “modern” enough not to change my name, I couldn’t get a room. We were furious. But how does one argue with illiterate people manning the desk of what calls itself to be one of the most ‘exclusive corporate hotels’ in the city? 

His idea was that my last name did not match my partner’s. What other proof does one have to show they are married? Your marriage certificate? Your marriage photographs? In today’s world, how many women change their name officially? The number of documents you would need to change your name, and the attestations for each and the time you need to spend on each of it… the mere thought is frightening. Most married women I know wear the mangalsutra only on certain occassions, and rarely everyday. Yet, it seems you need to do change your name. For what? So you do not get insulted and harassed the next time you book a hotel room and the hotel things you are a couple out to have sex in some hotel room, no matter if you are booking the room for a fortnight.

I would have probably let this go, but it happened again. Again with a hotel where we had a confirmed booking. This time, I was traveling with a colleague and it was embarassing for both of us to stand there and have the receptionist tell us “sorry we cannot give you a room since you are not married.” We had requested for a room with two separate beds. Sharing a room saved a lot of costs. The woman claimed that this was for ‘security’ reasons and refused to elaborate. We tried explaining to her that we were here on work and were quite delayed. We offered to get her written / call confirmations / approvals from whoever she needed. Yet, she refused. Because the hotel has ‘security’ issues and they seem more related to the fact that we are not married, we would be sharing a room and oops, we could do something ‘immoral’ like have sex. 

Even if I did want to have “illicit” sex in a hotel room, what concern is it of the hotel management? Why should they care about what happens between two consenting adults? And if the criteria is ‘security’, what is the basis? They are scared the guy might beat up the girl or vice versa? Or they could be involved in a molestation or rape case. 

If that is really your concern,  the hotels shouldn’t be renting rooms to two unrelated men or women. Rape happens even if you are homosexual. Actually, the hotels shouldn’t be renting rooms to two people. Because issues arise even among family members. Yes, even rape. 

So if the hotel is really having security issues, they should not rent rooms out to anybody. Each person gets one room and nobody else is allowed there. That should solve the issues, right? 

Or if the hotel management meant my moral character’s security, that is none of their fucking business. Literally. They provide a service. Of course, they could reserve the right of entry (or however that is phrased) but you cannot cast aspersions on my character and think we are just going to shut up and take it. If you want to do moral policing, declare it on your website. Mention that you do not rent rooms to unmarried couples / people of opposite genders wanting to share a room. And then we’ll see how much business you get.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Humptydum Tee permalink
    October 16, 2014 4:52 am

    What a slap on the face of the indian hotels business of harassing unmarried couples and doling out 2 room tariff for 1 and all in the name of moral policing!!!

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