Tylerites share their memories of Mumbai after traveling there this spring - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Tylerites share their memories of Mumbai after traveling there this spring

Some East Texans were in Mumbai just months ago, and stayed at the Taj Hotel and Oberoi Hotel which had been under terrorist attack in India. They even ate at a restaurant in Mumbai where many people were killed in the last two days. Friday, they told KLTV 7's Courtney Lane about their memories there and how they see this attack as an eerie reminder of 9/11.

Boasting nearly 14 million people, Sharon Howell refers to Mumbai as India's New York City. In April, she and her mom stayed at the Taj Hotel, a historic landmark.

"That's where our foreign dignitaries stay, U.S. elected officials stay when they travel to India. And Mumbai, as you're reporting, is the financial capital of India. So it is right on the beach, literally looking into the gulf of the Arabian sea which is easy for me to understand that if terrorists came up in gemini boats they could easily be within 50 yards of the front door of the Taj Hotel," said Sharon.

The Taj is now stained with blood and devastation. Sharon says not only have lives been lost, but history as well.

"The hotel is just full of precious artwork and the hotel was built in the early 1900's. It has over 600 rooms so that also adds to the challenge that no doubt they have in securing the hotel. Going literally floor by floor and room by room plus dealing with the guests that are there," described Sharon.

Next to the Taj is the Leopold Cafe, another target. Terrorists rushed in, gunning down customers.

"My mother and I were in the Leopold café and it's an open-air cafe, open to the street...it's completely understandable how a terrorist with an AK-47 opening fire into that restaurant there would definitely be loss of life, there'd be no way to prevent it," said Sharon.

"Just seeing the masses that are there and them running, it reminded me so much of 9/11 and the people running then that will never leave our minds," said Kay Howell.

"It's a tragedy and no doubt India's 9/11 and the similarities being that it is referred to as the New York of India," said Sharon.

Sharon says Mumbai has always been very secure and safe, but from her experience and running Travel Masters in Tyler, she has this message.

"It's pretty typical of what we tell everybody who travels today. We can't be intimidated by terrorists. We have to go on with our lives. And you step out in faith."

She says this disaster is another reminder to always be diligent and aware, no matter where you go.

Sharon and Kay also met the owner of the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, a 5 star, newer hotel, and they stayed there as well. Sharon says she hopes they can all rebuild and move forward after this is over.

Courtney Lane, reporting. clane@kltv.com  

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