"Hello...hello. Nowhere hostel? I am already here?". I was awaken by a strange call at 2.30 am in the morning. Mr Zul (not his real name) had booked a night from Agoda.com but never showed up that day. In normal circumstances, it would had been a no-show and in 50% or more cases, many bookings were made and cancelled. (We have no cancellation charges and no credit card deposits). I recalled his name. In fact, he called to ensure he has the confirmed booking.
I tried to contact Mr Medo, our Moroccan volunteer who was going to bed after we told him not to wait for Mr Zul. But a 2.30 am call is often distressing to us. But as a hostel, we faced unusual strangers each day; and they are usually strangers in the night like this. Fortunately Mr Medo was up, and was awaken by our text message and the sound of the hostel's intercom. Mr Zul had a warm shower and a bunk bed to rest, albeit, the unexpected call. MrZul was so grateful for the hospitality and left the hostel the next day; not before buying a breakfast set for Mr Medo who opened the door for him. What a fantastic gesture from a stranger. Thanks, Mr Zul. You are most welcome to come back to Nowhere hostel.
The next day, another stranger rang at 3 am. "Hello, hello. I am coming near your place. Are you able to give me a bed?". I replied "Hello, did you do any booking?". "NO, he said. But I just need a place to stay and a fresh shower". Feeling sleepy and annoyed, I wanted to say No, but I felt compelled to help him by acknowledging him to come anyway. There were so many false alarms in this business when people inquired, booked and never showed up.
Anyway he rang again at 5 am. "Hello, Nowhere hostel. I am here at the door." Feeling annoyed after awaken again, I told him that the hostel will only open at 8 am. I said that out of compassion for Mr Medo, our volunteer who may be fast asleep. After hearing my rejection, he replied "Please, I am tired. I need to shower and take a rest". At that point, my wife (equally annoyed by the calls) saw from our hostel CCTV camera that Medo was still awake, probably awaken by the hostel's intercom. Mr Medo was kind enough to walked down to check out the caller downstairs and found Mr Mohd (not his real name) standing there. The stranger in the night turns out to be real - again.
As a hostel owner, the midnight callers are most challenging and distressing. The strangers are real people. We have encountered strangers who walked in from all walks of life. Some of them are poor and could only afford to stay for a day or two, while waiting for their wages. Some promised to pay later, but never return. Many owed us monies from a month's rental, and some owed us a few hundred Ringgit. Times are hard. We understand some of their predicament. The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has deep consequences and it reaches deep into the wallets.
For some of these strangers who called on us, some had become soul mates and friends. When we reached out to them, they bore their souls to us. Each of these travelers or strangers had their own stories to tell. Loneliness, brokenness, sadness, regrets, dejection - each sharing a portion of their lives which unites us all as human beings. I too, am equally human and I understand their predicaments.
Whoever you are - as strangers in the night - you are always welcome to Nowhere hostel. Thus, our very name described it all. If you have nowhere to go - you are welcome at Nowhere hostel, a place you call your home.