Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Visiting Taj post 26/11

'Eerie' is one word that I could sum up my feelings when I visited Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai few months ago.

As I stood in the lobby of Taj facing white plywood that blocked the corridor, images of my past rendezvous along the corridor that led past ' Golden Dragon' Chinese Restaurant, 'Tanjore' Indian restaurant leading to an elevator that takes to various function halls and residing rooms, flashed my mind. It was difficult to conjure the plight of hapless tourists that must have been trapped in the ruthless mayhem on that night. I thought of myself being in the situation and was wondering the possible escape routes that must have been available then. When I used the toilet just behind the reception, I thought this could have been one such hiding place. Once I was there , I realized how vulnerable that place must have been. No hideaway except three toilets facing the barrage of terrorist guns, if he opens the door.

At Taj, like every big hotel property in India, the security was well enforced and alert with metal detector frame, handheld explosive sensors, CC cameras monitoring every movement. No cars were allowed in the porch. But after seeing the incident of Marriott Islamabad, I feel no amount of security would be full proof . Still it is reassuring to have alert security operations in place along with a sniffer dog.

Behind the glass door, other side of the lobby, lay a marble plaque with names of brave people succumbed to the cowardly terrorists attack. Flowing water fall gives a soothing effect to the numbed feelings. Outside the porch, a high rise barricade was erected to block the view to outside visitors peeping inside. I got a chance to stand on the porch and could take photos of the famed walls and windows that was ravaged in a day to merciless killings.
As I watched the documentary on the TV channel 'Discovery', I thought of my recent visit. So many wonderful memories I cherish from the Old Taj. Attending annual speech competition of Nazareth Speakers Academy , Occasional Sipping coffee at the Sea lounge overlooking the Apollo bunder and dining at the Golden Dragon, Tanjore, Shamiana and Zodiac grill. Seeing Mr J R D Tata climbing down the footsteps without much ado , Be at arm’s length of many Cricketers - most prominent that of Vivian Richards.

It was ' Pateti ' - a Parsee New year and the restaurant that served buffet was crowded and busy. Food was widespread and sumptuous, but an occasion of festivity with live viola play was rather muted with the backdrop of tragic event in the minds of visitors.

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