It’s a tourist life again for foreigners in city


Mumbai – The guns have fallen silent. The dust has settled. The Taj stands still in its magnificent splendour on the city’s seafront. Just a day
after the curtain came down on the city’s tryst with terror, denizens of the posh Colaba locale finally hit the streets even as shops and cafes in the area lifted their shutters.

Amid the odd TV crews and gawkers, foreign tourists could be spotted window shopping and strolling down the lanes and bylanes around the Taj Hotel with nonchalant abandon, only glancing at the scenes of destruction as they passed by.

Child psychiatrist Philip Altekruse from Massachusetts came calling only on Friday for his 18-year-old son who’s studying in Vishakhapatnam as part of a one-way exchange programme. News of the attack did not deter Altekruse or have him postpone his schedule. “I am here to see my son. I landed in Mumbai on Wednesday, was given an update on the situation and decided to check into a small hotel near the Colaba area.

I think the Indian authorities got the situation under control and so there’s no need to panic. My son’s with me and I think my lack of wealth saved me else I’d have checked into the Taj,” he said. Altekruse plans to stay on in his budget hotel at Colaba until Monday when he returns to the States. Till then, he says, he’ll roam the streets and enjoy the sunsets at Apollo Bunder.

As we walked on, we stumbled on Roberto, an Italian, who with his Polish wife Magdalena was sipping on juice from a roadside shack. Roberto, who works with a local trust in Italy, and his partner had just returned to Mumbai on Friday after spending a week in Hampi.

They are headed for Aurangabad on Monday as part of their travel itinerary in India. This couple, too, was unfazed. They checked into a small hotel in Bandra and decided to ‘step out’ and come to see the famous Taj landmark in Mumbai.

“We are not worried and had no plans to cancel our reservations to Mumbai even after being told of the happenings here. We felt the Indian security forces had confined the terrorists and would sooner than later get the better of the enemy,” said Magdalena.

Dutch couple Ans and Frank though were a “little concerned” about their safety upon returning to the city on Saturday after a visit to the famous Ajanta-Ellora caves. “We leave for Indonesia on December 4. Our sojourn with India has come to an end. Though I confess I’m concerned, the situation seems to have cooled down so here we are,” said Ans, a social worker in Holland.

Just two blocks away from Nariman House stands Colabawala House. From the terrace of this three-storeyed, ramshackle building one can get a view of the rooftop of Nariman House. Atop this building, we met German, a 22-year-old environment engineer from Spain.

A youth with a lackadaisical air about him, German simply shrugged when we asked him whether he was worried for his life. “No worry, I go to (sic) Goa now and then from there to Hampi. I get back to Mumbai on December 18 to leave for Spain.” His attitude, like the others, perhaps epitomises the idiom that the show must go on.