Just watching sast night’s news item covering the re-opening of Mumbai’s premier hotels which were under attack a mere three weeks ago brought me close to tears. Not one for crying, I found it hard to watch the footage of the brave Staff of the Taj solemnly walk into the hotel, to the standing ovation of the 1000 special guests invited for the opening. For some strange reason a deep sadness enveloped me and I wanted to go to the Taj. So, this evening we drove past and actually entered the hotel.
Getting there was not easy. We could only enter from one of the rear roads, stopped by two security guards who checked the boot, the bag inside the car and asked us what we wanted before allowing us to go. As we went past the Northcote side, we saw the old place boarded up and going along the seafront we caught a a gimpse of a chandelier in passing. We saw the blackened space which was the Wasabi, once the finest dining experience in Mumbai and now known as the place of the last pitched battle . My tiny handbag went through the scanner and I followed through a metal detector. We entered the lobby to hear the sweet, innocent voices of the choristers from the Blind School singing carols . As the Yuletide songs filled the air, the Christmas tree with bows and doves presided over a strangely bereft and sombre lobby. Once a bustling place place bursting with activity,full of important looking people in business suits, bejewelled women and curious tourists was sadly empty, forlorn and desolate. The corridor leading to the old Taj was cleaned up, the walls neatly boarding off the Harbour Bar, The Golden Dragon and the lifts to the Heritage wing, with the efficiency only the Taj can boast of cleverly hiding the destruction behind. In the courtyard, a fine granite plaque, with names of those who had lost their lives inscribedreminded us all that though things seemed normal they were not. We walked past the shopping arcade and went inside the Patisserie. We wanted to buy something just to show our solidarity with the Taj , but found there was nothing we could buy. Our lives at home had changed too : with the children gone,there was no one to eat the chocolates and the pastries and puffs!
We came away, saddened beyond belief. One part of me wants to go there and patronise the restaurants for old times’ sake and to re-establish another tomorrow but another part feels hollow : how can we go back and “enjoy” a meal where just weeks ago so much blood was shed?