In 2008, I was perusing Hotel Management and was in my Second Year of Bachelors in Hotel Management. I was in Mumbai but at the Taj Lands End, Mumbai another hotel right next to the sea at Bandstand, Bandra, I was on a 6 month training there and I was just 19 years old then.
Butler Service the department where we get to serve the VVIP’s, the cream of the society. At 98% occupancy the hotel was running busy and the Mumbai season had just kick started which would have lasted till February. Plans were high and the days were getting busier. I had become the one who did most work until it overflowed to my seniors. Brandy, Whisky, Champagne was served of the highest level and Teacher’s Highland Creme was a Poor Guest’s choice there.
I was doing an afternoon shift on the 26th of November 2008 and we had all planned a party with my trainee colleagues just after the shift. I was refilling water of the guests water goblet while he was watching the Television in the lounge. Suddenly, the guest said ‘Oh my God’ and I looked at the TV, the News Flashed ‘BREAKING! TAJ ATTACKED!’ I stopped pouring, kept the Jug at the nearest Dummy Waiter and looked again it was the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Colaba, Mumbai and it wasn’t the Taj Land’s End in Bandra where I was. The Back Area’s of the Butler pantry was empty and I was alone making Hors’d oeuvres. I went back to see the news. It said then ‘Taj Lands End’ was the actual target. There were goosebumps all over and I everyone in the room including guests were speechless. Guests stayed late at lounge as they didn’t want to feel lonely. I left at 11 pm from that the Lounge to get ready and reach home as soon as possible. Entire Mumbai was on Fire as attacks happened in two hotels ,Taj Mahal and the Trident Hilton, Leopold Cafe was attacked and a Taxi was blown midway by a bomb.
I paced my self quickly to reach the gate but the security stopped us and said no one will leave this place until they received orders from the Police. I stayed in the hotel for three days without a proper place to sleep and we all were worried if our hotel gets targeted too and we all would die. But fortunately nothing happened at the Taj Lands End Bandra and we left home on the 29th morning (3rd day) with proper screening and inquiry.
For fifteen days no trainees or contract staff were allowed to enter and there was a re-documentation and screening before which we were allowed to go in the hotel.
From that day the hotel industry in Mumbai changed. Security never got so much importance earlier and a lot of checks are still done by the local police to check whether the police is doing its job.
Many people died that day including Firemen and the security forces.
The Hospitality Industry crashed and hotel companies went into losses. My colleges seniors didn’t get campus placements and getting the job of a waiter itself had become very difficult. But this revived in 2 years but students lost important years of their careers in hospitality.
An Airline Professional cum Hotelier who likes blogging, writing and bringing awareness.