Sunday, May 15, 2011

She Jus’ Who Hang(ed)

Nopes… this wasn’t some she hanged for anything sinister. That’s just the name of the town we’ve finally been brought to after proper ‘orientation’. The organizers did well to temper the transition from Corporate standards down to Shijazhuang (She Jus’ Who Hang) standards through an intermediate step at Beijing. The CTS hotel in Beijing, I now understood, was a code for Conditioning Towards Shijazhuang or Controlled Transition Slide (downwards).

Motel 168 is an extremely warm place. With the number of people packed per square inch, this is bound to be the case. Some quick observations and an interesting fact-file for the trivia collector:

  • 168 days is the maximum anyone has survived in this hotel. That was a good reason to keep this name.
  • The above was also a good reason to limit the duration of this assignment to 30 days, giving a safety factor of 5 and thus a very good chance that most of us would eventually be able to get back home.
  • The hotel has no dark secrets and no skeletons in the closets. This is greatly helped by the fact that there are no closets in the rooms at all!! Skeletons lurking under the stairwell, dark alley or under the carpet are a different segment altogether.
  • The fact that most of our participants are senior executives in our organization, the hotel has thoughtfully ingrained the concept of corporate growth/rise into it’s very structure… while organic growth can take you just so far (i.e. the elevator  till the 7th floor), the final climb to the pinnacle (i.e .the eight floor) has to be purely on your own efforts (yes.. the staircase it is!).
  • The fact that I’ve been given a room on the 7th floor viewed in light of the bullet point above really depresses me. Apparently my eventual destination is just till as far as the automatic climb goes!
  • Austerity is nirvana. 4 clothes hangers is all you get. Town to be renamed She Jus’ Who Hang(ed) 4 clothes (and then spent money on laundry).
  • Room post room cleaning has no verifiable auditable trail. I later discovered that one new tooth-brush pack is added on a daily basis just to keep record. There are now six in my washroom now, and I’m wondering whether the cleaning lady is sending me a message. I know that an inquiry will not go beyond the ‘Ni Hao’ so just let it be.
  • The good ol’ throne in the washroom actually is not anchored to the ground! For seriously fidgety people like me, this is more than a mild inconvenience… it’s close to being an absolute show-stopper! Somewhere in the back of my mind I think that the brilliant Chinese have figured how to make the pot portable and there is a possibility I can just drag the thing around to any corner or maybe to my room itself. Not trying this though.
Vignettes from the cell

Our NGO partners immediately called for a ‘mitigation meeting’ on landing at the hotel and handed out goodie bags in a bid to dole out some form of gratification. The water bottle and the stationery items were appreciable and probably useful. The plastic play-dough thingy (or whatever other activity item it was… see image) was a very puzzling inclusion to this list of Santa’s goodies.
The intriguing give-aways
All enigmas get solved eventually… with 41 TV channels and nothing in English, and an internet connection that phases out every 9.5 minutes with a SLA uptime of 15%, it does leave the room incumbent with nothing much to do other than stare at 4 hangers or 6 tooth brushes. Bring on the kiddo activity set!

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