View From Taj

Updated: Dec 1 2008, 04:53am hrs
Daughter survives, father killed in Taj

This is a case of a lucky daughter and not that lucky father from Thane, who worked in the Taj Hotel, which was among the four places in Mumbai targeted by terrorists since Wednesday.

The unfortunate Fosten Martis, 50, working in the Taj wasthe resident of the Residency Complex in the Wagle Estate in Thane. Wednesday was the wedding anniversary of Martis and he fell prey to the terrorists attack in the Taj on the same day.

Martin was serving as the head steward in the hotel. It was two years back his daughter Florence (Priya), 23, got a job as a receptionist in the same hotel. Immediately upon coming to know about the terrorists entering the hotel Martins son Flayd made an attempt to contact his father and sister but in vain and he could not reach them as the network was not available. However, at about 1.30 am on Thursday, Florence contacted her brother Flayd and told him that she was held up in the second floor room in the hotel.

Meanwhile, Martis talked to his wife Pracil at 5.30 am on Thursday. Martis asked Florence to be brave and told her that he would get her something to eat as she was hungry.

As he was bringing cake for his daughter in the upper floor he was targeted by the terrorists and killed. Meanwhile, family members of Martis at home rushed to the Congress Corporator and leader of the Congress in the ThaneMunicipal Corporation Ravindra Phatak, who in turn contacted the personnel from Taj and wanted to know the whereabouts of father-daughter duo.

He had a rude shock from the other side when he was informed that Martis was killed by the terrorists. It was on Thursday morning Florence got out of the hotel along with a group of staff members not knowing that her father is no more. When she reached home she was shocked to know that her father had fallen to bullets of the terrorists.

From grandeur to complete destruction

The Taj Mahal hotel, known for its super luxurious interiors with vaulted alabaster ceilings, beautiful archways and the dramatic cantilever stairways, now stands completely shattered by blood-stained floors, soot-marred ceilings, burnt windows and of course the stench of bodies strewn across it.

What greets you as go you near the lobby are broken glass panes, gun-toting commandos looking at you menacingly for closing in rather than the regular smiling bell boys who were quick to welcome you with a greeting.

The interior is completely destroyed. It smells awful as bodies have been lying there since the day everything began.

The terrorists had shot at many of the lights, making many parts of the hotel difficult to move in after evening, said an NSG commando who had taken part in the operation to flush out terrorists responsible for the bloodiest siege situation in the country.

The ballroom, which hosted innumerable number of wedding receptions, books release, product launches and parties, stands burnt completely with bullet marks which are still visible and water flooding the floors, as pointed out by a Mumbai Fire Brigade personnel. The much-sought after restaurants, patronised by the whos who from the countrys corporate world to film industry and the political class, are now haunted by an eerie silence, waiting to tell the horrific story of what actually happened inside for 60 hours.

According to a few of the ambulance boys, who were rushed inside the hotel at regular intervals to bring out the injured security personnel and bodies of terrorists, most of the guests whose bodies are still lying inside seem to have been killed while having their food.