As a member of the Inner Circle, I have had many occasions to be pampered by the quietly friendly and dignified staff of the Taj Hotels of India. I have always admired their reassuring presence, their impeccable demeanor, their desire to help us guests and make us feel at home, and their excellent training. It is a treat, though it is true that only a select few in the country can afford to be thus pampered.
Never in all these years of interaction did I ever imagine that these friendly young men and women would have to deal with something as ghastly as a terrorist attack. And I certainly could not have imagined the way the staff of the Taj at Mumbai responded to the deadly attack of November 2008. By all accounts, they showed the world what they are made of, and though I am sad that eleven of them lost their lives in the attack, I am proud of having been associated with such brilliant human beings.
I bow my head with respect for the General Manager of the Taj Mumbai for continuing to make sure his guests were safe, even after he lost the love of his life – his wife and children. If ever you needed a meaning for the phrase “beyond the call of duty”, it is this.
And I salute the maintenance worker Rajan, who took bullets onto himself so that his guests may live. Faced with a similar situation, how many of us would even think of doing this? Is this the perfect example for “service before self”?
These are but two examples. Eleven employees perished in the attack. Countless others were injured. Yet, they kept their guests’ safety and comfort uppermost in their minds! Wah Taj!!
It will take a long time for the wounds inflicted on the Nation to heal, and surely longer for the wounds inflicted on the families of those who laid down their lives.
I respect the need of the families of these brave souls to grieve in private. However, I can assure you that like many others in the country, I too feel bereaved by the loss of these eleven lives. They will remain in my memory forever as shining beacons that displayed a super human quality in the face of extreme danger, and made the supreme sacrifice so that their guests may live and be comfortable.
Imagine if India was full of such people! Tagore’s dream “where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection” would have come true !! Bravo!!!