Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai...I will see the Taj Hotel again.

Like every other Indian national who is proud to be a citizen of this country, I am also extremely grieved at the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. The last time that I didn't sleep much at night, or did not get sleep, was in 1992, during the World Cup in Australia - had to balance the time zone. But, this time was different; I was unable to sleep; I could not digest what was happening to that magnificent heritage monument, the Taj. No less credit to the towering Oberoi and the residential complex of Nariman House.

Let me put this in perspective, as to why I think the choice of these locations for terror mean so much to me. These are parts of Mumbai that the world sees, when foreigners enter India. The minute someone enters Mumbai through the Gateway of India, one sees the towering structure of this 106 year old building. Like every television journalist has been screaming, this building is not just another building in Bombay. Its a building that makes a difference. Its the sign of how India has transformed itself over the last 100 years. Yes, its an old building, but its majestic, stylish, classy, and immensely loved by every discerning Indian. It attracts the who's who of India and the world - politicians, prices, emperors, heads of state, CEOs, senior managers, investors, journalists and so on. The Taj also accommodates every fabric of Indian society - workers from every class of the society work in this grand monument. It hosts shows that impact decisions on future investments and growth in our nation. There are 5 major financial institutions near the Taj, and many other corporates whose executives spend much of their productive time in this magnificent building, nay, monument. The Taj is not just another five star hotel - it has so much history and is a symbol of national pride.

I had more than just a lump in my throat when I saw the different parts of the Taj going up in blames. I had immense sorrow and grief to see the Oberoi hotel being held to ransom. What's more, I remember going on a long walk behind the Taj and into Colaba; while I am not sure if I crossed the Nariman House, I am pretty sure I would have seen it during my trips to Mumbai. Those long evenings that I used to sit opposite the Gateway of India, digesting the breeze and fresh air from the ocean behind me and looking at the magnificent Taj in front of me, is my lasting memory of this great monument.

But, the good thing is, this great structure is still there. And make no mistake about it, the next time I make a visit to Bombay, I will make my customary visit to the Gateway, and do the same thing that I did last time & every other time in Bombay i.e. eat bhelpuri or grab some groundnuts, and sit on that same stone and look at this great monument, with greater pride. You terrorist, you ain't killing any Indian's passion for a new India (be it a Mumbai-ite or anyone from outside Mumbai like me).

I will be back at the Taj and go on my walk across the Oberoi, next time I get to Bombay. Make no mistake about it!

Before I sign off, hats off to the NSG and all the other security forces who nailed those militants. It may have taken time, but hats off to them. And yes, a vast majority of them were north Indians, Mr. Raj Thackeray!