Sunday, February 8, 2009
Mumbai on the Rebound
Not even a terrorist assault can slow the pulse of Mumbai. At least not the Nov. 26 attacks, which lasted for three days and left at least 170 people dead. The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, one of 10 sites that came under fire and the epicenter of the 26/11 attacks (as they're dubbed in the Indian media), reopened the 20-floor tower in late December. The opulent century-old palace section of the hotel (known as the Heritage Wing) will reopen in phases throughout the year, with rooms being made available in mid-spring (the Crystal Room, an event space, was back in operation Feb. 1). Security at the tower is tight (baggage scanners, guards on each floor), but operation is smooth. The grand neoclassical palace, an enduring symbol of Indian self-determination, was opened in 1903 by Jamsetji N. Tata, reportedly after he was restricted from entering a British-run hotel, and remains part of the Tata family's business conglomerate.
The events of 26/11 are never far from the minds of Mumbaikers. At the Leopold Cafe on a recent evening, locals and tourists washed down Indian and international comfort fare with Kingfisher beer. But the owners have retained the bullet holes in the front window of the expat hangout as a tribute to the diners and employees killed during the attack.
Hemant Oberoi, head chef of the Taj Hotels restaurants (and based in Mumbai), lost seven colleagues on 26/11. "When you see people you know and love collapsing right in front of you, it's something you obviously will never forget," he said. Then, like the city itself, Oberoi went back to what he so brilliantly did before the attacks: In his case, he went into the kitchen of his signature eatery, Masala Kraft (on the ground floor of the Taj Tower), and cooked up upscale Indian fare.CRUISE WATCH
The ships have spent their fuel, but passengers on two cruise lines are getting their cash back. Last week, Florida's attorney general's office settled a dispute with Oceania Cruises and Classic Cruises Holdings (which also goes by Regent Seven Seas Cruises) over retroactively imposed fuel surcharges. Oceania will refund more than $2.1 million to cruisers who were charged the fee after they had booked their trip; Classic Cruises agreed to pay more than $1 million in restitution. The per-day figure is $7 (Oceania) and $7.50 (Classic Cruises), though some passengers who have not yet sailed may receive some form of onboard credit.
Last year, a slew of cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Carnival and its subsidiaries) agreed to pony up $61 million in reimbursements.
If you think you have been wrongly assessed a cruise ship fuel surcharge, you may file a complaint with Florida's attorney general's office. Call the fraud hotline at 866-966-7226 or visit http://www.myfloridalegal.com.JUST HANGING
CoGo loves a road trip but is sometimes too tired to drive. Through May 25, the National Building Museum in Washington grabs the wheel with its picturesque exhibit, "Detour: Architecture and Design Along 18 National Tourist Routes in Norway." The show (see pictures below) displays artful rest stops from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's Tourist Routes project, which gives architects and other creative types the freedom to turn utilitarian roadside structures into "I Brake for Art" landmarks. The museum is at 401 F St. NW. For more information, call 202-272-2448 or go to http://www.nbm.org.BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Virgin America has sale fares from Washington Dulles to San Francisco. Round-trip fare is $239 (including $21 taxes) for Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday flights; other days are $10 more each way. Book by today, Feb. 8; complete travel by April 1. Other airlines are matching, but fare typically starts at about $320. Buy at http://www.virginamerica.com, or pay $15 more by calling 877-359-8474.
Reporting: David Farley, Andrea Sachs
Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: email@example.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.