The Night Taj Mahal Hotel Got Attacked

Breaking News!..Taj Mahal Mumbai Gets Attacked

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.

461566818_5f886967d8_z
Taj Lands End, Bandra, Mumbai – Photo credit: smalljude via Foter.com / CC BY

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.

Photo credit: Christian Haugen via Foter.com / CC BY

 

Advertisements

The Blind Man in the Bus

Those were college days. Owning phones had just become common and that to recently with college going kids. But I didn’t have one and I was one on so many without it. This is a story of those days when the world was becoming high tech but sadly there were some special people who didn’t see that technology and the visual experience of rapidly developing India.

Everyday I used to travel from Chembur to Dadar to my College. I was in my Junior College then and as a guy aged 17 I had lot of energy and a lot interest in the newly no-school mature world. Unlike in 2017, 2007 was a way better in terms of actually knowing people. People knew other people visually and some even talked to each other in the B.E.S.T bus. There were so many college guys and girls boarding and getting down the bus as almost all stops had colleges like Khalsa College, SIES, SIWS, Ruia College, Ruparel College and so on. Most of the time I used to stand and used to notice especially girls I knew visually and their everyday different styles and I never had the guts to talk to them, I was in all boys school, how could I? But yes, apart from the girls there were very different people who took the bus everyday, the same bus that I used to take (cause I left home at a fixed time 1230 hours noon)., there was a woman who blamed every man to be taking advantage of her (I know no one took advantage and why would anyone, there was nothing good in her), there was a businessman who used to talk business of crores and yet travelled on my bus to save money (he was a Marvadi), there was a girl who I had a crush on and she used to give me back smiles but we never actually talked, and then there was a blind man who used to travel from Sion to Dadar T.T.

The blind man I supose was a parsi. He was well dressed, had all the etiquettes a gentleman should have. He always used to get the handicap seat. It seemed he used to work somewhere like an organisation or so. This blind man used to wait at the same spot and generally needed no help to get up on the stair. People always showed him where the door was and ofcouse its because its Aamchi Mumbai! This man is a life’s example for me because he never gave up and there are a few examples I remember yet today.

He once heard f a baby crying and then came to know that it was a baby crying on a lady shoulder and who was standing. This man offered the seat to her. I am not kidding! It was a mouth shut episode for all the men including the young seated ladies. What a lesson!

Then, there was a time when the conductor changed. The new conductor tried to fool him by giving coins and notes of a different currency while buying the bus ticket. But, the gentleman was not someone to fool. He got to know that the conductor was trying to fool him and created a rukus. He also, knew which currency he gave the conductor. This was a live example to me that you dont need eyes to live, you need the mind and courage to live.

I forgot to tell you, there used to be a lady to recieve him who was almost as old as him. He never made her suffer to be with him all the way. A true gentleman I must say.

This man is some one I can never forget. I dont remember his face but I remember what he used to wear..a kurta and payjama or a Safari Suit, sometimes.

Blindly