“26th November 2008 began like any other day. I was a Banquet Manager at Taj, and because we were hosting a welcome party for the new chairman, we had to manage a lot of guests. 65 of us were gathered in the banquet hall – everything was going as planned when we suddenly heard some loud noises. My first thought was that someone might be bursting firecrackers. How wrong I was.
But pretty soon, all our phones started pinging with calls and text messages telling us that gunmen had entered Taj. We immediately moved into action – we locked all the doors and switched off the lights. The guests began to panic and kept asking us why we weren’t letting them go. We told them about the situation at hand, and that’s when chaos ensued. I tried to calm them down and keep them quiet so as to not attract the attention of the terrorists.
I did my best not to panic though. I had this gut feeling that things were going to be alright – I had faith in our armed forces. I knew they’d come for us. My mother, who wasn’t in Bombay at the time, called me to ask where I was. I lied to her and told her that I was safe at home. I didn’t want her to panic and more than anything else I didn’t want to say goodbye.
When we finally escaped at five in the morning through the window the next day, a lot of us decided to stay close to Taj – we did it because we wanted to. We wanted to be there to pick up the pieces, to help in any way we could. The day after everything cleared, we were back at the hotel to clean up. It broke my heart to see it in shambles, but somehow we pushed down our emotions and did what needed to be done.
“26th November 2008 began like any other day. I was a Banquet Manager at Taj, and because we were hosting a welcome…
It ended on the 29th – by then I was already home, watching it all on the news. I would cry every time I saw the images flash on the screen – but all of it just made me stronger. When I finally met my parents, the first thing my mother did was slap me….then she hugged me really tight. Not only them but my family at Taj too, helped me get through everything. We built this place up brick by brick and restored it to its former glory. Each hidden crack in the walls of Taj, remind us that courage and peace can be found within you, even in the hardest of times.”
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