Taj Mahal Hotel , Mumbai
On the night of November 28, 2008, Mumbai known as the “City of Dreams” became the city of nightmares. Ten men in inflatable speedboats came ashore, with silent and deadly plans. Some local fishermen asked them what they were doing with the answer of “Never mind, it is not your business!” When the fishermen told the police they were ignored.
This lead to 12 coordinated shootings at 2 hotels, including the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel which was held for 3 days, Jewish Community Center, a cafe, cinema, train station and hospital. There were 166 deaths including 9 of the attackers and 600 +injuries.
India has never been the same again.
One complaint I heard yesterday from a woman from Brussels, was that security would be very tight for a day, and then go back to the levels before. Not so in India. Seven years after their 9/11, we experienced security in airports like none we had seen before. This machine or something similar was just inside the door on arrival. It is a screening for checked baggage and all airports where we flew in India had them. At the Lemon Tree where we stayed near the Delhi airport, there was a checked baggage machine just inside the door of this *** hotel! We never saw that again.
Let me tell you about security in the Delhi airport, the capital city in India. It was the most strict we saw anywhere.
*As we approached the drop off area in the hotel bus, each vehicle was checked underneath for metal.
- Each person leaving the vehicle had to show his/her passport. All this was done quickly to get the vehicles back on the road.
- As we entered the door only feet away from the drop-off, we had to show our passport again.
- We put our checked baggage in the machine above or a variation of it. We collected our checked baggage on the other side.
- Next, it was off to the check-in where we showed our passport again, our ticket, and checked baggage.
- Next was the personal security and carry-on with passport and ticket. Below shows the woman’s security. Men and women have separate security lines and modesty is very important.
- For those successfully passing through here, the passenger receives a tag that is stamped with strings to fasten to all carry-ons, purses , laptops, carry-on bags.
- The final and 5th time the passengers show their passports is as you enter the plane. The attendant looks for that tag with the official stamped tag that indicates the bags have been checked. One student had the tag in his hand. He was pulled aside , his bag rechecked, tag tied safely on his bag before entering the plane. If you have lost your tag, you must go back and be screened again!
- All this security takes a long time and you must arrive several hours in advance.
- Oddly enough, passengers don’t have to remove their shoes . That is only in the US.
Here is an image of a personal item check for Indigo Air.
Indian airports are busy, crowded, and chaotic. Whole families come to say goodbye or pick-up visitors. As much as we didn’t like or even understand all this process, we were grateful to be safe!
This may become the model of security in an airport near you!
The complete film is on You.tube. It is in Hindi but the story is easily followed. Sadly the world has seen these attacks too often. India will never forget!