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October 22, 2003

Hotel Potma

And The Eagles say, "Welcome, to the Ho-tel Mar-i-juana..."

Every time I leave our room, the smell of burning pot transports me back to Eugene, home of hippies and hemp. Some contact buzz, huh?

Our first day at Hotel Potma — er, Padma — I walked out of the room to see an Indian man, older with a good-sized white beard, sitting on a chair in the lobby and smoking a long pipe. The sickly sweet burning smell filled the air, and my lungs.

Pot is technically illegal in India. Let's Go India & Nepal (2003) says that "Marijuana (ganja) and hashish (charas) are grown throughout the Himalayas and are extremely cheap, but they are illegal and considered socially unacceptable by most Indians and Nepalis. [emphasis theirs]"

Of course, it's also illegal in the U.S. Which is why no one in the U.S. smokes pot. At all. Ever. Just like in India.

Let's Go also notes that some ethnic groups and holy men "also use ganja and charas with no stigma." Walking through the lobby, I was still spaced from the train ride and didn't think to ask the chap if he was a sadhu (holy man), or if he just liked the taste of some dank herb. Or both.

Our last night in Bhubaneswar, I went to see if the manager could help us arrange a rickshaw for our 2 a.m. journey to the train station. A lot of giggles erupted from the manager and 2 men around the desk. At first thought, it seemed the cause was the unreasonableness of my request — understandable, since Bhubaneswar ain't known for nightlife. At 2 a.m., good rickshaw and taxi drivers are asleep — or are already at the train station, waiting.

At first whiff though, I realized that everyone was stoned off their gourds.

I forged on with my request anyway, though really I was starting to want a pizza now more than a rickshaw later. The two guys, giggling, went outside to see if they could find a driver with night-owl tendencies.

They returned a few minutes later. There was some chat among the three, in Oriya (the state of Orissa's main tongue) or Hindi, I don't know. Then raucous laughter. The manager, giggling, looked at me and said, "One hundred rupees."

I want to ride in a rickshaw, not buy one, I thought. The ride from the train station to the hotel, at 5 a.m., had only cost 20 rupees. "Why 100?" I asked.

More giggles. "Very — hee-hee — late."


"You want?" Giggle. Giggle.

"I'll go confer with my other half," I said, and walked back to the room, giggling a bit myself.

An auto-rickshaw for 100 rupees? Yeah, right! Claudia and I walked to the station in about 15, 20 minutes — a quarter- to half-mile. But I hope the boys at the hotel had some extra rupees; I'm sure that by the end of the shift, they all wanted chocolate biscuits and samosas. Or maybe a pizza. Or maybe they were all just the sadhus of the Hotel Potma.

Despite the ganja — which is more funny than annoying, depending on your attitude towards wacky-backy — Hotel Padma is a decent place to stay. Claudia and I got a double room with attached bath (with Indian-style toilet and cold-water shower) for 200 rupees per night. You'll find Hotel Padma in Kalpana Square; take an auto-rickshaw from the train station. It cost us 20 rupees, but you can probably get 10. Go for it.

Oh, slather up on DEET before going to bed. Claudia currently has enough mosquito bites for me to draw constellations on her. You can close up the door and windows, but there are small grate-like openings at the top of the room that you can't do anything about. Bhub-town's open sewers also run nearby, so mozzies will be a problem. Unless you're me — I've been spared. I don't know why. I was going to ask the hotel staff, but I figured they'd just charge me 100R for the answer, though I'm sure it'd be deep and thought-provoking, man.

Posted by Ant on October 22, 2003 12:05 PM
Category: India

Where are you guys? There hasn't been a posting in a while..unless you count the 'pot' episode. (Yes, your postings sometime remind me of a sitcom plot. haha.)

Posted by: Stephanie on October 24, 2003 09:31 AM


This is awesome, I'm reliving my India trip through you!!! Great to see you out there exploring. Claudia seems a good travel partner.

Posted by: Nick on October 30, 2003 12:12 AM

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