In 1982, I was hauled up before the manager of Bangkok’s Hotel Malaysia. He was a stern, disapproving Thai man in a smart double-breasted suit who scowled thunder at me as he sent a bellboy to summon my mother. When she arrived, he explained that I was banned from using the lifts.
Personally, I thought this was terribly unfair. Me and my best friend, Adam, had only been having fun; going up, and down, and up, and down, stopping at every floor, setting the lift off and nipping out of the door to see if we could beat it to the next floor, waiting till someone got in then hitting every button. All good, wholesome fun.
But apparently some people wanted to use the lift without stopping at every floor or sharing a confined space with hysterical nine-year olds. Killjoys.
And so, the ban; which I assume remains in place till this day (the manager never mentioned an expiry date).
The Hotel Malaysia – or Malaysia Hotel as it has inventively been renamed in the intervening years – was also where I learnt to swim. And I’ve wanted to come back here to indulge my nostalgia for a long time. And so here we are.
Only this time its my girls splashing around in the pool. But apart from that, little has changed. The corridors look shabbier but unrenovated. The lifts are the same. The pool is just how I remember, although somehow smaller.
And there’s an older, stern-looking manager who sits at the desk in the lobby… next to the lifts. Could it be him? I’ve used them twice now. I don’t think he recognises me if it is.
Now to start pressing all the buttons.