Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Legend of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Over a lazy Sunday breakfast, Ramesh and I got around to talking about our Bombay lives. He mentioned that he used to work at the Taj (Apollo Bunder, Bombay) in their Sales Dept. My interest perked and I brought up one of my favourite Bombay stories - the one about the construction of the Taj hotel. I only heard it for the first time about a couple of years ago and remember putting out an email asking a few friends if they knew if it was real or not. Thanks to gmail, I actually managed to dig that email up. I now present (complete with original bad English & punctuation that would make my Ms. Annie Tixeira - my fourth std teacher - screech!)... the Legend of the Taj:

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The architect of the old Taj hotel (Gateway) was all set to make his mark with this, his first, major construction. He was based in London and drew up the beautiful plan for the building. For some reason he had to direct operations from London and couldn't oversee construction in Bombay. He kept getting the bestest feedback from the constructors and others who were keeping tabs on things. When the hotel was finished, he came down to check his creation out - and to his horror, learned that it had been built backside-front! The lobby and main reception, which he'd designed to face the sea, faced inward! Distraught, he jumped from one of the balconies of the hotel into the courtyard and killed himself.

I've never heard this story before - one of my friends (who isn't even from Bombay) just narrated it to me and i'm looking for confirmation!!! How much of this is fact and how much
urban legend?

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Vikram and Salil, two of my Bombay-learned friends were split on whether it was true or not. They'd both separately checked with the Taj and had gotten different answers. Ramesh said they actually had an induction session when he joined the Taj and the story was part of the induction. They insisted it was true and part of the hotel's history. Wikipedia categorically tags it as an old yarn. And then goes on to suggest that 'this was probably a deliberate snub to the English king by Jameshedji Tata due to nationalist feelings'.

What do I think? True or not, it's one helluva story!

6 comments:

kaustubh said...

true or not, its interesting. And I remember that thread on gmail.

~ Ms. Cute Pants ~ said...

Oh! this is interesting indeed. I've forwarded it to my entire family, many of them Bombay natives, so if I hear back from them I will be sure to let you know! True or not, it's always nice to hear stories from the land of my birth! Keep 'em coming!

fortyfiveminutes said...

"bestest feedback" is priceless!

Dylan said...

KP, I remember it cause it was one of the rare occassions when our two in-house Bombay historians went head-to-head!

Ms. C/P, "land of my birth" and all... full-on drama! :P

45mins, playful grammar you use with siblings never leaves you, eh?

~ Ms. Cute Pants ~ said...

Full on drama? LOL You're one to talk, D!

Lali said...

Good post.