So, here I am at the Royal Gardenia Hotel in Bangalore, India, drinking a cool glass of Kingfisher in the very bar you see above. It's 15:45, local time, which is four and a half hours ahead of the UK.
Yesterday I boarded BA flight 119 at 14:00, having driven to Heathrow from Birmingham via Cambridgeshire following the Forest party at the Conservative conference on Monday night. (Photos to follow shortly.)
BA obviously decided to go straight to Bangalore time because we were barely in the air when we were served dinner. After that I watched an episode of Frasier, the Gervaise/Merchant film Cemetery Junction, and read several chapters of Thaler and Sunstein's "hugely influential" book Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. Before long, or so it seemed, we were being handed breakfast (tomato, beans and a kind of potato omelette) at 23:00 UK time.
The nine-hour flight took us in the general direction of Vienna, Istanbul, Tehran and some other places I can't remember (although they all sounded like war zones!) and finally Karachi and Mumbai before we landed in Bangalore at 04:10 local time.
From the airport we took a taxi into the city but it was still dark so not much to see. Arrived at the Royal Gardenia Hotel at 06:00. Welcomed by staff who placed turbans on our heads, wrapped silk scarves around our necks and offered us a welcome drink (orange juice, since you ask).
As we were shown to our rooms (none of that "Can't check in until 3.00pm" nonsense) rose petals fluttered down on to our heads from a balcony above. I looked up. Yes, the hotel employed a man for that very purpose.
Slept most of the morning before registering for the conference which begins tomorrow. I'm speaking in three sessions, one tomorrow, two on Friday. But first there is a formal dinner tonight in the more traditional Windsor Hotel a few minutes' walk away. (Needless to say transport has been arranged to save us the bother!)
I'll keep you posted.
The Royal Gardenia is described as "Bengalore's first green super luxury business hotel" and "the world's largest & Asia's first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) platinum rated hotel".
Personally I'd like something a little more traditional but I can't complain. After all, I've never stayed in a 7-star hotel before and the service is fantastic.
Apparently the Indian and Australian cricket teams are staying here too. Haven't seen them - yet.
Smoking is not allowed in the public areas at the Royal Gardenia. There are however smoking rooms and comfortable outdoor areas where people can light up.
There are also designated bedrooms where you can smoke, including mine (see below). Although I have a balcony overlooking the swimming pool I am allowed, should I so choose, to smoke inside. In fact, not only is there an ashtray on the table by the window, there's even a "safe ashtray" in the bathroom.
The bedroom has state of the art air conditioning and, no, I can't smell even a hint of stale tobacco.