I was born in a lower-middle-class family who settled in Mumbai; after the partition of united India. Belonging to this social class has always been a blend of boon and curse for me.
There was always anxiety, excitement, awe, fear, and so many emotions; especially in my early years. There were dreams, aspirations, etc. and one of them was visiting — if not staying or eating — in a 5-star hotel and that too Taj!
24th March 2017 was the day my dream, aspiration, etc. came true; at the age of 37. It took so long but the fruit of patience and perseverance was sweet, very sweet. I was invited to an event of Tata Trusts in the esteemed Hotel Taj Mahal Palace. The event was scheduled to be in the evening but I arrived early — out of sheer excitement.
Since childhood, I’d heard stories of the 5-star hotel staff restricting entry for the common man. I was quite anxious and had butterflies flying in my stomach; in fact, everywhere. But to my surprise, I received a warm welcome from the decorated sentinels. They let me peacefully and with dignity.
No-one stopped me — a big achievement in my life.
There was nothing to do as such but there were moments to be spent in this iconic space. So, I just strolled around in all the corners one was allowed to. I explored and captured some beautiful moments in my mobile camera. The staff and climate were super-friendly and broke all my false assumptions about such an elite place.
The event was informative but all my focus was on the living legend Ratan N. Tata whose great-grandfather built the hotel in 1903. One of my intention to go to the event was to fulfill my childhood dream of getting his autograph.
And, I did it. Not only that, but I also spent some good moments talking to some of the staff in the hotel. It’s really interesting to know that they welcome all the guests — at the time of check-in — with the Indian tradition of aarti.
The experience of Hotel Taj Mahal Palace is out of the world. It’s the pride of Mumbai, an epitome of success, and endless love affair and reminiscence of nostalgic tradition. Nothing is similar to what already exists — so much that I almost forgot that I’d been to many 5-star hotels in life. Been there done that, but this one made me forgot everything, feel nothing again, empty again, a child again, excited again, a photographer again, a story-teller again.