Shahana’s Trouble

No Wi-Fi in the hotel room? SACRILEGE!

/ by Srđan Srdić

The only thing that poor Shahana wanted was to have a pleasant summer vacation with her family. In Africa. She hadn’t even dreamed of horrors that could befall her on the blackest of all the continents. When she came back, she complained to the visitors of a website specialised for evaluating hotel capacities worldwide. Disgusted as she was, she said something to this effect: I am forced to register and write this. Don't go there. Not for the life of you.

 

Let's put aside the question how Shahana, a regular visitor to the mentioned website specialised for evaluating hotel capacities worldwide, managed to get to this tourist site, despite the fact that she had previously read the comments of her British fellow-sufferers. And these comments looked like the Marx brothers. If only Shahana had listened to her compatriots’ advice. But she didn't. Only our dear Lord knows why. She wouldn't have headed for such a hell at any cost. Not even if it had been the last minute of the last minute. Not even then. Never. The Golgotha that she suffered cannot be described in a human language.

 

Every evil imaginable befell Shahana in Africa: A confused receptionist, a deceitful agency, dirt, the revolt of frenzied guests complaining about this and that on a daily basis, a swarm of mosquitoes, futile attempts at coming to terms with the staff, traumatic hotel restaurants, a never-changing menu, Egyptians (in the midst of Egypt, Shahana, damn it!) whose unbridled kids romped all around and the hotel staff that would gladly leave those kids behind somewhere in the Sahara, then again about the restaurant (where you can smell the food, for fuck's sake!) and a menu which the family survived only thanks to sheer starvation, an empty mini-bar in the room of the five-star hotel, bottled water with an occasional metallic taste, an aqua park with a shortage of floats and mats (mats are thin, so your bottom will suffer), all those Egyptians everywhere, and so on and so forth. But this is definitely the worst of all:

           

Bear in mind the Wi-Fi in this hotel is so slow and only in the lobby, they also have no Wi-Fi in the rooms. 

 

About thirty years ago, Tinker Sawyer (see under Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), in a scene where the presence of the grotesque is measured according to epic criteria, stated that ‘technology is our friend’. Indeed, Tinker thought of somewhat different technological inventions from those whose lack caused Shahana’s heavy spiritual pain. He thought of chainsaws, such things. Shahana simply missed the Internet. The fucking Wi-Fi. What shall we do now, Shahana must have thought? What shall we do now, damn it?

 

We seem to live under the circumstances that have re-named the concept of vacation. I wouldn’t be able to say what that other thing could be. Shahana didn’t introduce herself as a person who couldn’t live without the Internet due to her work. No, she isn’t a business woman who has no rest, even on vacation. She is the mother of tiny little kids who came with her lawful husband to sunbathe and expose her troubled body to the African heat. Whence such suffering? And Shahana is merely a random sample.

 

The nature of the Internet is informative by origin: There’s no Wi-Fi, there’s no information. Someone will say: What shall we do with cable television in the rooms? And what sort of information did Shahana find lethally important during the only ten days when she could neatly live without it? The last but one in the series of Trump’s tweets? Chelsey’s cash-grab tour of China? Or the social dimension of the Internet: Perhaps Shahana wanted to post photos of her young on some of the social networks, perhaps she wanted to be there a little even though she wasn’t there? Or the lady was willing to see a film, which is hard to believe with all the family trouble, present even without what was brought about by the evil Egyptians, tourists in their own country.

 

It seems to me that Tinker was seriously right. ‘Technology is our friend’, inseparable at that. Like cancer, for instance. Like depression. Such a friend; not that we wanted it, but we accepted it naively. And now we don’t know what to do with it. That is, we don’t know what to do without it. And we don’t speak about a relationship with the Internet, which can be read as one of numerous newly-arisen diseases of addiction. I’d rather say that it’s a sort of contextual expansion of our nature whose mute and stultified witnesses we have been and still are. The lack of Wi-Fi is equal to the lack of a passport. Or a wife. Or a good portion of buttocks. And you can’t go anywhere without a passport. As you can’t sit without buttocks. These are serious problems.

 

It’s no longer the question of the politics of a specific reason why the lack of a technological invention is equal to a stay in hell, it’s about the fact that something has been accepted and has become ontology. Therefore, technology is ontology, as a dogma, something that entails no further questioning. Even though we would easily isolate Shahana’s motives, the source of her trouble, by means of a short interview, she probably wouldn’t be able to say much about its essence; the woman only wanted to have a rest. And we talk about the alteration to the code of the essence whereby the system is collapsing. The system is falling. Because it’s the way it is. It’s become like this. We’ve let it become so. For this reason, through the loss of a Wi-Fi connection, we don’t lose anything in terms of information, company or fun. We lose in terms of ourselves.

 

‘Technology is our friend’? I vote for chainsaws.

....
Srđan Srdić

is a novelist, short-story writer, editor, essayist and creative reading/writing teacher. He has published two novels, two short story collections and a book of essays. From 2008 to 2011 he served as the editor of the international short story festival Kikinda Short. He returned to this position in September 2015.


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