Post 26/11, Mumbai night life takes a back seatDecember 12th, 2008 - 12:09 pm ICT by IANS
Mumbai, Dec 12 (IANS) To get entry, you have to register your name at least 24 hours in advance. You must carry a valid photo identity card, like your PAN card or driver’s licence, and you will be thoroughly frisked by security guards at the entrance. Welcome to the party at a Mumbai five-star hotel.In the ‘city that never sleeps’, the roads wear a deserted look a little past nine at night. And the pulsating night life that Mumbai is so famous for seems deflated.
“I have never seen the roads of this city so empty so early in the night. All that you see are a few cars, there’s hardly anyone walking on the roads,” Rahul Kulkarni, who works with a multinational company, told IANS.
A self-confessed party animal, Kulkarni said that most of the city’s hot spots in the party circuit in Bandra, Colaba and Khar have been witnessing a dip in crowds.
“It’s only natural. Mumbai is still recovering from the shock of one of the country’s worst terror attacks just two weeks back. People are going to work because they have to, but most of them are not in the mood to celebrate and party,” Kulkarni added.
With Christmas and New Year’s Eve just round the corner, a number of hotels had been booked for parties. After the Nov 26 attack which lasted 60 hours and killed 179 people, many have opted to call off celebrations.
Rasika Jain, a homemaker, is one of them.
“It’s my husband’s birthday Dec 24 and I wanted to throw a surprise party for him, inviting his closest friends and some long lost pals whom I got in touch with through Facebook.
“But we just came to know that a close relative of one of his friends lost his life during the terror attacks. In such a situation, how can we celebrate? The party has been called off,” Jain said.
For Roshni and Anubhav Patel, a young Gujarati couple who got married last weekend, all plans for a perfect wedding came to nought.
“We had planned our wedding specifically around this time because the weather now is great and some of our closest friends from outside Mumbai would be home on holiday,” Roshni, a dentist, told IANS.
“But after the terror attacks, the party mood was missing. Everyone tried their best to make this a really special occasion for us - with a cocktail party, mehndi and a sangeet ceremony before the wedding reception - but something was missing.”
At the entrance to the Intercontinental hotel, a five-star hotel in south Mumbai where the couple’s cocktail party took place, the strict security check took many guests by surprise.
“I have never been so thoroughly checked before entering a five-star hotel. After what happened at the Taj and Oberoi Trident, security has assumed an even greater importance in the hotels here…Ironically, these checks make you feel secure and vulnerable at the same time,” Deepshikha Thapliyal, one of the guests, said while walking through a metal detector frame into the reception of the hotel.
Added her friend Kavita: “Yes, they somehow remind you that no matter where you are - on the road, in a fancy hotel or in the cocoon of your own home - you are not completely safe.”
A doorman at the hotel’s steps welcomed every guest with a cheerful “Chak de phatte” - roughly translating into ‘forget your woes, cheer up’ - and managed to bring a smile on most lips, however momentary it may have been.