Going to the Boutique is not Kade Yaama

by Rajpal Abeynayake

(March 02, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lankans know as much as any others around the block about how to further an international conspiracy. By itself this signifies tremendous progress, and I am proud of it.

If you are conjuring visions in your brain about shocking Egypt and Libya style protests on the Sri Lankan streets, perish the thought.

I’m going on here about much simpler things — such as boutique hotels for example.

Boutique hotels? Yes, that is right, the biggest thing since somebody sold some discarded medicinal decoction calling it Coca-Cola.

OK, just joking.

About the Coca-Cola that is. Boutique hotels on the other hand are no joking matter. They are old houses with very little really to show for — converted into money-spinners that bilk Westerners and Japanese into thinking that they have reached moksha here on earth.

There is very often nothing in these boutique affairs except perhaps exquisite antique furniture and a reasonably modern swimming pool facility. But these are designer hotels. You know how anything can be put on any piece of cloth and then strung with a designer label, and every fool wants a piece of it?

Now you get the idea.

Boutique hotels also attract high-end tourists which means that we can essentially keep pesky backpackers out of our hair and out of our beaches, and still earn top-dollar from the tourist trade. That is like having the cake and eating it.

The real operator in the boutique hotel business is not the conceptualizer, the entrepreneur, or the man who regulates the chemicals in the swimming pool. The real operator in the scam represents the quintessence of modern capitalism — and he is called the Wizard of hype.

What is so earthshaking about selling an old decrepit and decadent Wallauwa after some minimal refurbishment, when entire revolutions can be sold today with the power of hypeperbole?

Just joking again, but only by half.

It is never the reality that counts but the perception of it, and of course anybody who does not know this is still a mewling puking infant. For example, for decades now the Colombo elite opinion makers who are the real drivers of the UNP machine, have been trying to create the perception that disaster is in the air, and that there would be some sort of apocalyptic calamity if the UNP does not get elected to power.

Needs great lessons

This hype - and unadulterated hype it is — never generated traction among the chattering classes, especially those of them that reside out of Colombo. The result is that the UNP still needs great lessons in the communications department — a guru who would be able to tell them how to make a boutique hotel of the garawetena old UNP walauwa, now doddering and gone to seed.

Some complain that the boutique hotel concept has brought with it a certain aspect of neo colonialism as most of the boutique hotel operators are foreigners who have discovered that the key to attracting tourists who have money to burn, is to give them the idea that they are the folks who are helping make the natives arrive in international chic circles — by taking their old decrepit houses, and well, condescending to live in them for a few days ...

Well the agency of the ex colonial powers is necessary to do anything these days including foment revolution, and anybody who does not think this is true does not deserve to so much as dream of putting-up one night in some (for all intents and purposes useless) hyped-up boutique hotel...

So you can think of boutique hotels as representative microcosm for global reality; they are little mini functional entities that essentially depict everything we are in this globalized age.

It is the age when hype is the very food and water of our existence; indeed, with hype people can almost literally will themselves to live-on for years without any food or a single drop of water.

In this context of the very apotheosis of hyperbole, the true sage or arbiter, indeed the real Alpha male (fill in female equivalent here ...) or default icon of any society would be the person who could tell you the hype from the reality.

Real uprisings

Today, nobody knows which of these Middle Eastern revolutions are hype and which of them are in fact real uprisings of the people. That is the other thing about hype.

It is like some brand of intoxicant — and intoxicant it is, this hype business. If something hits you four hours after you drink it, it is called the postal intoxicant. And that is the way with most modern hype. You wouldn’t know what hit you until after much of the damage is done.

Tell a Friend