26th November 2008. The day Mumbaikars stood still - wherever they were, inside the terror attacked hotels, at home glued to the TV sets, on phone convincing their loved ones of their existence, in awe, in shock, in grief. You name it, we expressed all the emotions that's not remotely related to happiness. It was a black letter day in the life of every Indian. We were attacked by a terrorist outfit. Our media ensured we were updated of every single bullet shot and its repercussions. Everything from a 3rd person's perspective. What if I tell you there's a book out there that gives you a 1st person account of what happened in the Taj Mahal Hotel on that dreadful day? That's exactly where this book comes in. Does it live up to the readers expectation? Read on to find out..
1. All Indians living anywhere in the world.
2. As the book suggests, readers who are interested to know what happened inside the Taj Mahal Hotel. It's the curiosity factor that the author is banking on.
Plot: Unlike most of my book reviews, this one will be different. In the sense that the plot is actually known to everyone. It's not a plot actually, its a real life story. The book gives a timely account of what happened at what time inside the Taj - what was happening before it all started, how it started, how was it initially perceived, how the guests (customers) were controlled and transported to a relatively safer place each time, the bullet shots and its targets, panic et al. The author mentions his state of mind when people were being evacuated and he, instead of choosing the easier route of getting away from the scene of terror, decided to hang on till everyone is safe.
Writing: Before I analyze the writing style, let me give you a brief backdrop of the author in 2008. Understand that Ankur Sharma was a management trainee in 2008. He was a student in early 2008 who landed a job at Taj in mid-2008 and was few months into the job in November. And this reflects in his writing. There are some light and humorous incidents in the book. In other words, this is not actually a minute by minute account of happenings inside the Taj, but a minute by minute account of happenings of Ankur Sharma - what he saw around him, what happened to him and people around him. The book is written in a structured manner as it should be, considering it depicts a real life incident. There are many silly errors (spelling as well as grammatical) in the book which could have been eliminated.
The cover page of the book contains an image of the dreadful act and the topic signifies that the book will be hard-hitting. However, the book is a toned-down version with moments of humor and light-hearted conversations between author and other staff members. There's a part of you that will feel deceived while reading this book. But then, maybe, its the reader's fault. We are taught not to judge a book by it's cover, right?
Relevance in today's times: The incident cannot be ignored under any circumstances. Especially when Ajmal Kasab was hanged on 21st November 2012 (almost 4 years after the incident) and the masterminds are still free and protected. This book serves as a reminder of the incident. It's a nice initiative by the author as it helps us Indians (with a short memory) to relive the dreadful days that went by and question the government authorities why justice has been delayed.
My Rating: 2.5 / 5