This morning, over a week after the news of gunshots and terror struck Mumbai, I read a first hand account from a word doc that appeared in my mail box: Michael Pollack and Anjali’s story of their nightmare at the Taj. But through it all, they express their gratitude towards members of the hotel staff who were so hospitable despite the adverse conditions; some of them even lost their lives in efforts to protect the guests at the hotel. This narrative epitomizes the Indian cultural belief of “Atithi Devo Bhava“, translated from Sanskrit loosely, as “The guest to your home is divine; treat him thus.”

Personally, I feel an affiliation to this heritage hotel not only because I have frequented the hotel’s restaurants often, but my friends and family also worked at the Taj a long time back, including one noble Parsi gentleman who dedicated 42 years of his life in this ‘company’ as their Chief Cashier; while another – today a proud American with over 500 Americans on his payroll commenced his working career at this hotel as a Clerk! I have other fond memories associated with this place, including their cake-shop “La Patisserie”, the bookshop “Nalanda’s” and the shoe store “Joy”. Nothing elitist about that, simply an association of excellent quality, service and yes, premium prices but for the best choices. In the classical sense, it symbolizes all that spells “excellence” as opposed to “cheap” or “shoddy”.

Michael & Anjali survived at The Taj
Michael & Anjali survived at The Taj

We have, by now, read many accounts of horror and negligence by government authorities. This story pays homage to those who died – commandos, staff members – during “service”. There are a few comments to this story published in Forbes, who refer to the staff sacrifices as “servitude”. I guess, one can understand Indian hospitality only if you have been fortunate to experience it first-hand. No matter how much the West has influenced India, or that Westerners condemn India and Indians, certainly today, Michael, and others like him who survived, may value India’s heritage of  “Atithi Devo Bhava“!

To read more, and to listen to Michael and Anjali’s interview with Charlie Rose, visit: NYC Hedge Fund Manager Saved by Heroes at the Taj Hotel.

Michael is a General Partner of Glenhill Capital. Glenhill is a global, multi-sector equities investment firm. Prior to co-founding Glenhill in 2001, Mr. Pollack served as an Associate at Reservoir Capital Group and as an Analyst at Colony Capital, both private equity firms.Mr. Pollack graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and son. (Source: Zoominfo)

Anjali Pollack specializes in hi-end interior design.


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