As I was happy to note this morning, the lane (which I can see from my living room window) has now been opened. But at the same time Police Commissioner Sanjeev Dayal has publicly advised the shopkeepers to "look beyond profits"! Certainly if anyone profited from this closure it's been the Taj, whose visitors have had a lot of space to park their cars. Basement parking at the Taj was closed following an earlier bomb attack in front of the Gateway of India and there doesn't seem to be any plan to reopen it.
Now it's true that the Taj suffered casualties, along with the Trident Hotel across on the other seafront, during the 26/11/2008 terrorist attacks, so one cannot be too complacent about a terrorist threat. But I just now thought to check out the numbers, and was surprised. According to this website, 31 people were killed at the Taj and 30 at the Trident. But another 58 persons - almost equal to the sum of the previous two numbers - were killed at CST station. Today there is massive security at the Taj, modest security at the Trident and (for all practical purposes) none whatsoever at CST. The hierarchy is worthy of note.
Over the last two years there's been a trend of VHPP's (Very High Profile People) insisting on staying at the Taj apparently to "express their solidarity". Besides Obama, the list includes former White House residents George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton. Not to mention the President of France (that short guy, I forget his name) and his attractive wife Carla.
In fact the trend to stay there started even before 2008. This puzzles me because there was a time - during my childhood - when all visiting heads of state would be put up at Raj Bhavan, the Governor's residence with a spectacular private beach and helipad in a classy Malabar Hill location. Why did everyone stop staying there and decide to risk the ugly decor, indifferent food and atrocious Husain mural at the Taj? I'm not sure when it started, but now it's an epidemic.
With all these visitors as well as the threats we keep hearing about, roads in these parts get closed all the time (for the Obamas it was nearly three full days, starting well before their arrival). So it's hardly surprising that Colaba residents and shopkeepers are tired of it. For now, the latter seem to have won the day. But the Police Commissioner's absurd request to them to sacrifice their profits for an elite hotel - that wouldn't let most of them in - leads me to worry that the barricades will soon go up again and privatisation of the road will resume.