I’m in sitting in a swish bar at the Taj Palace and Hotel in the centre of Mumbai. Peering out the window, the iconic Gateway to India is lit up. Indians, plus a few expats, gather in front of it and enjoying the warm evening. This is the best spot in the city and room rates (which start at $300 per night) at the Taj, which dates from the early 1900s, reflect that. The service is good and passing through the marble decorated corridors you reach some very luxurious shops.
Unfortunately I’m not staying here, I’ve merely just popped in to enjoy a drink and a very tasty chicken curry. The timing of my visit is significant, just yesterday the ballroom re-opened after the deadly 2008 bombings in which more than 160 people were killed. And coincidentally yesterday was also when the Indian government announced that the verdict of the only bomber captured alive will be May 3rd.
Today the national newspapers are full of the details about the trial – how much it’s costing and stressing the Pakistan link (India holds Pakistan responsible for the difficulties in bringing to trial the suicide bomber.) And families of the victims killed in the atrocity say that the death penalty is not enough, they want to seem the bomber hung drawn and quartered in public.
But for the Taj, the swift progress in getting it open again sends out a message of defiance. The hotel re-opened its doors to guests just three weeks after the attack. The unveiling of the splendid ballroom pretty much completes that process. It signifies that terrorism won’t be tolerated, not in India, not anywhere in the world. It says that terrorists will never win.