Goa’s tourism subdued as police move in

December 25, 2008

From Financial Times:

Under the palms near the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, a luxury hotel built inside the crumbling ramparts of what was once Goa’s most formidable Portuguese castle, police have set up a sand-bagged observation post.

The post is one of a series of “bunkers” being built along the Goan coast to help fortify it against seaborne terrorist attacks of the kind that brought Mumbai to a halt last month.

“Soon this fortress will be a bastion of armed guards,” says an official at the Fort Aguada resort, a sister property of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower that was attacked in Mumbai.

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Steel amid adversity: Tata after Mumbai

December 22, 2008

Joe Leahy reports from Mumbai in Financial Times:

ratan_tata

Ratan Tata was at home in south Mumbai late on November 26 when the call came. On the line was a frantic R.K. Krishna Kumar, head of the Tata group unit that owns the city’s luxury Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel.

The unthinkable had happened, Mr Kumar told the Tata chairman. Terrorists had taken over the Taj, the 105-year-old wedding cake-like structure on Mumbai’s waterfront that was built by Mr Tata’s great-grandfather and is the pride of India’s largest private sector group. Scores had been killed. The building was on fire.

Unable to leave his apartment that evening because of the chaos on the streets, Mr Tata made it to the group’s stately south Mumbai headquarters, Bombay House, the following day. As the country’s politicians engaged in a blame game, Mr Tata was one of the few public figures who seemed to strike the right tone on the attacks. He bluntly criticised the state’s lack of preparedness while expressing grief for those killed.

“This is a very, very unfortunate situation which none of us are going to forget. My message really is that the government and state authorities should also not forget,” he told journalists on the steps of Bombay House.

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Edgy but defiant, Mumbai inches towards normality as hotels scarred by terror reopen

December 22, 2008

Eight priests from across faiths conduct ceremony to emphasise city’s unity. Randeep Ramesh in the Guardian:

 

The newly reopened Taj Mahal hotel lights up the Mumbai seafront. AFP

The newly reopened Taj Mahal hotel lights up the Mumbai seafront. AFP

 

 

Until gunmen entered the Taj Mahal hotel in the early hours of 26 November, Praful Patel had known no other home for 16 years. Room 1017 was his residence, a sanctuary from which he ran his investment business amid statues of his favourite Hindu deity, Ganesha, the elephant-headed “remover of obstacles”.

During those hours Patel, who is British, “died more than once” as the sound of gunfire and explosions reached the bed he hid in. Indian commandos rescued him the next day, walking him out through pools of blood.

Last night he checked back into his room, part of a collective act of defiance against the gunmen whose rampage left more than 170 dead. Guests had been allowed back in the Taj’s modern wing, and its 268 rooms bore no trace of the violence inflicted. The blood stains around the swimming pool had been cleared, the grenade blast in the cafe was a distant memory and the bullet holes in the lobby were nowhere in sight.

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