It's okay to pretend to be your brother's wife, right? I mean, would your reaction change if I told you four free nights at any worldwide Hilton were at stake? Okay, what if I told you that you would inherit your brother's (ahem...husband's) Diamond status? Okay, fine...what if I told you that Diamond members were upgraded to the Executive floor, where there was a spread of Australia's finest in breakfast (freshly squeezed juices and market picked fruit) AND free canapes and drinks (spirits, wine, beer, and soft drinks) each day? Make sure you take into account that a beer in Australia is $8 minimum when you go out (prices only goes up).
Fine. Fine. Fine. I know-it is NEVER okay to pretend to be your BROTHER'S wife. I get it. I hear you all the way from the States. I know. But I HAD to! I didn't know about the perks at all when it happened. Let me at least explain to you and then you can choose to judge me or agree with me.
You see, my brother is a very giving person. He really is. So for our wedding gift (well, one of many) he gave us these vouchers he received from Hilton, entitling us to four free nights anywhere in the world. They were a blessing as housing was our biggest cost on the trip (not the airline tickets as many think. It is always the housing when you don't have the luxury of family.). Defying my long-standing rule to repel all American-anything while overseas, we booked our resort in Fiji as the temptation of ocean views, spas, and pampering overloaded our senses. And while we were at it, we booked in Cairns, Australia and Nairobi, Kenya too.
One night, I decided to call Hilton to be sure the vouchers were in my name since the bookings were in my name. And it all started there.
"Hello and thank you for calling Hilton Honors Diamond Desk. How may I help you?"
"Hello. I was just calling to confirm my bookings under some vouchers we received."
"Sure. Can you confirm your HHonors number, name, and address?"
Rattling off the numbers I had long ago memorized for the moment someone questioned me, she then says:
"Great. Thank you...Mrs. Patel I assume?"
And this was the moment I had to decide if I was Mrs. Patel or "Oh no...I am Raju's sister." And, well I guess you know which road I intrepidly explored.
"Yes. This is Mrs. Patel."
I mean, I am TECHNICALLY Mrs. Patel since I have not changed my name yet, right? I mean, I should always have the status of being a Patel, right? They cannot take that from me-can they?
She continues: "Great. Let's ensure your stay with us is all confirmed Mrs. Patel."
It's like she knew the phrase Mrs. Patel was a dagger through me each time so she said it every moment there was a crevice of opening. I mean, who in her right mind pretends to be her brother's wife? Well, apparently me. So many texts to my brother passed as I relayed how wrong this whole thing was and that was it. My vouchers would be printed in my name and resent to "our" email account.
And a few months later, I found myself on my honeymoon, enjoying the perks of Diamond life. The peak of which occurred in Cairns, where travelers embark on their journey to the Great Barrier Reef. We stayed in the Hilton before and after our liveaboard journey (literally where you live aboard a boat on the ocean...like a cruise but all about scuba diving). And it was here that we enjoyed our Executive status...until..they took it away. Oh it was so embarrassing but how could I make a big deal of it? You see, we came back from the boat and mosied on to the Exec Lounge for drinks as we had for the last few days. And, she says "I am sorry Mrs Patel but you do not have access to the Lounge. " We go back and forth just once or twice about how I am positive my account is Diamond and not Blue. How dare she suggest that I am Blue status:)
We retreat so as to not make a scene (especially since our new friends Clive and Tino were in there...wondering I am sure...). Only to receive a call from the assistant manager: "Mrs Patel...I am SO sorry. I checked your account again and you ARE a Diamond member. I apologize for the error and do hope you will join us in the Executive lounge."
Why, yes, assistant manager...I believe we will see you in the Lounge.
And so went our Cairns stay. Thank-you-very-much Bhikhu or Raju Jashvantlal Patel. We can now sport our "We are brother and sister" t-shirts again.
Here are some pics from our scuba diving, the obvious highlight to our trip. I scuba dived THREE times, and Srin did SEVEN dives in two days. It was the most thrilling experience. He even did a night dive (I had the pleasure of wondering where he was in the dark ocean while I witnessed a shark eat something, leaving a pool of blood for my viewing pleasure.)
We rented an underwater digital camera. Here I am snorkeling!
On my first dive! It was a most wonderful feeling to breathe underwater. Especially since I was so ridiculously scared until I went under and realized how easy it was!
My instructor took this really cool pic of his bubbles.
Srin followed me diving as he snorkeled and then dove in while I was ascending.
A huge clam one of us saw.
I love this picture Srin took.
I saw this reflection happening when Srin and I were snorkeling and I just had to try and capture it. I loved this shot as well!
And we were actually this close to the fishies!
My last dive was with two fellow liveaboard-ers.
I saw Srin while I was diving so I had to take a picture!
Srin had to wake up at 5:45 for one of his dives so at least he got to see this on his way down!
Oh yeah. Did I mention we saw sharks? Up close and personal.