Sunday, we made a surprise visit to the region known as Colaba. As our taxi’s approached, I couldn’t help but notice the unorthodox architecture presented. Until this point, buildings in Mumbai appeared to be either of a modern western or of traditional Indian style. In Colaba, however, the architecture was very gothic, with both Spanish and British influences. It was quite a steep contrast. As with most tourist destinations, people were everywhere both taking pictures and trying to sell us merchandise. Early on, I couldn’t help but notice the unusual amount of security checkpoints.
Further down the road, a majestic building with a red top cross my eye. It looked like a palace. Mark informed me that it was The Taj Mahal Hotel. At first I was confused; understanding that the actual Taj Mahal would be our last destination on the trip. Before entering, there was another series of metal detectors but these searches were more thorough. As I waited in line, I kept hearing phrases like “that’s where it happened” and “bombing”. Up until this point, I was not aware of the tragedies that occurred in 2008. The Taj was beautiful; constructed with golden ceilings and marble floors.
For dinner, we decided to eat at the world famous Leopold Cafe. Once again, I was not aware of its relation to the 26/11 attacks. It was there that my stomach started to ache again. After I received my burger, Mark made us aware of the bullet impacts in the walls, positioned very near to where our heads were resting. I then slowly noticed a similar looking caliber of hole in many of the restaurants doors and windows. I began to fill a strange mix of emotions.
Part of me was appalled. It’s one thing to have the strength to go back into business after a major catastrophe, but why keep such gruesome blemishes as relics? Usually, after an attack, a plaque or sign is erected; commemorating the lives of those lost; not the manner to which they met their demise. Beside from a few stylized paintings; the only commemoration of the events came from the exit impacts that pierced the walls and windows. Secondly, I felt this display was exploiting the events. For some reason, I could imagine some patrons coming to view this location like a Hollywood movie set, it just seemed very grim. As I had time to process, I remembered that the wreckage from the World Trade Center is on display in many regions of New York. People also visit the sites of Pearl Harbor on a regular basis. What we call national landmarks, in United States, could equally be considered morbid. At the end of the day, even though the display of damage may be perceived as tasteless to me, personally, the management’s intention was carefully thought out. The destruction caused by a few, cannot destroy the semblance of what the restaurant represents to many. The rubble and debris are the equivalent of an aesthetic scar; the business carries on as usual.