Bombay Massacre Timeline

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I apologize for the long delay in updating this blog, I’ve just been suffering from writers block while dealing with my frustration at the current Indian government.  I told myself I would stay away from comparing 9/11 to the Mumbai Massacre but it’s just not possible. This massacre was a combination of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina all rolled into one.  Granted this attack was on a scale never seen before but the government’s inaction is like a page from the Hurricane Katrina playbook – do nothing. And yes, we’ve already had our “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” moment, RR Patil the Maharashtra Home Minister has been quoted as saying “such small incidents happen.”

The attacks on South Bombay have hit home for me.  Friends would visit Bombay and see the lack of infrastructure, the poverty and the overall craziness of Bombay and would ask why I love Bombay and my answer was simple “I live like a king.” Well, in an instant I’m starting to rethink if it’s worth it. I can’t even count how many times I have visited the Taj Palace this year, it’s like a 2nd home for many of my friends and family.  During the attacks I was receiving emails from people that had visited Bombay and they all said the same basic thing – “I heard about the attacks, hope you are safe. Oh my god I stayed at the Taj Palace, I can’t believe it.”

I’ve put together a timeline of the events as they occurred from a personal point of view, which includes a story of a very, very close friend – SJ.  Her story is nothing short of heart-breaking.

Nov 16 – Met up with my cousin for coffee at the Taj Palace, where he was staying.
Nov 20 – Celebrated my birthday by having dinner at Wasabi located in the Taj Palace.
Nov 23 – Had lunch with family at Golden Dragon which is located in the Taj Palace.
Nov 24 – Dropped off my brother-in-law at the CST train station.

Nov 26
Morning – My cousin checks out of the Taj Palace.
9:15pm – Picked up my sister and nieces from the Airport, they were in India for a wedding. We were driving to the JW Marriot in Juhu to check-in.
9:40pm – Get a call from my wife’s business partner – SJ, she was at Golden Dragon celebrating her husband’s birthday with family. She told us to be safe because there was gunfire at the Taj Palace and the rumor was they were targeting other 5 star hotels – JW Marriott included.
10pm – We rollup to the JW Marriott, the plan was for my sister to check-in and then we would leave.  However, we end up ordering food and start to watch the news…it becomes apparent the situation was spiraling out of control and decide to stay at the hotel with my sister.
Midnight – On TV they report gun fire outside the JW Marriott, I call my driver who was outside and ask him what’s the situation. He said it was quiet and the cops were patrolling the streets.

Nov 27
1:30am – Get a call from SJ saying they are in the Taj Chambers and locked in by the staff. She was afraid but everyone felt comfortable with the Taj staff.
7:30am – We call SJ and she explains how she had escaped with her parents around 3:30am, but still waiting for her husband and father/mother/sister-in-law.
3:30pm – SJ’s mother-in-law’s body was identified, still no word about the other family members.
4:30pm - SJ get’s a call that they have also identifed her husband and father-in-law.
5pm – Local TV is saying the seige at the Taj is over and all hostages have been freed (inaccurate).
7:30pm – I leave the JW Marriott with my wife to be with SJ for several hours, we head to Pedder Road. Leaving the JW where my sister and nieces were was one of the toughest decisions I had to make, however seeing the security detail I felt relieved and assured. We get stuck at Worli for about 30 minutes as the Prime Minister’s 42 car entourage passes through (they had AK-47′s).

8:30pm – We reach SJ’s in-law’s house and it’s just a scene you don’t ever want to witness.  We get word that SJ’s sister-in-law is alive but in critical condition.
11pm – We head back to the JW Marriott so I can be with my sister and nieces. It was eerie that there were no cops on the road as we head back, the only place we saw cops was back at the JW Marriott. I was thinking back to 9/11 where the 405 highway in Los Angeles had cops everywhere for weeks and that was 2800 miles from ground zero.

Nov 28
7am – the National Security Guard (NSG) commando’s got dropped onto Nariman House in Colaba.
10am – We check out of the hotel and drop my sister and nieces off at the airport so they can fly to Goa for a wedding, I was relieved at this point.  Then we proceed to Pedder Road.
2pm – We head for the last rites that were given to SJ’s husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law. Rumors of gunshots at CST and Napeansea Road make the rounds.  For 2 hours the local cable system was cut to fight the rumors and inaccurate reporting.
3:30p – The Oberoi is finally in control of the NSG.
5pm – The TV’s are all talking about the final stages of the operation taking place (inaccurate).
7pm – Nariman House is finally in control of the NSG.

Nov 29
9am – The Taj Palace is finally in control of the NSG, it took almost 60 hours to secure a single hotel.
10:30a – Ratan Tata, CEO of Tata Sons and owner of Taj Palace is on the grounds to survey the damage.

During this massacre there were players that showed leadership and others that should be taken behind a tool shed and violated with a rusted knife (don’t ask).

Winners:

  • NSG personnel – the elite force that brought the massacre to an end at 3 locations – Taj, Oberoi/Trident and Nariman House.
  • Media - unprecedented coverage of the unfolding events.
  • Rajdeep Sardesai, CNN IBN reporter. He has hammered every government official on their laziness.
  • Shobha De, socialite turned activist – very outspoken against the government’s inaction and calling for resignations.
  • Taj and Oberoi/Trident staff – I’ve heard nothing but praise from people within the Taj Palace during the massacre.
  • Ratan Tata – He was on the grounds of the Taj Palace within 90 minutes of the NSG taking control. The Prime Minister and other government officials were nowhere to be found.

Losers:

  • The Indian government.
  • Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh – his speech within hours of the massacre was unintelligible and uninspiring, he makes George Bush look like a Rhodes Scholar.
  • President of India, Pratibha Patil – No comment from her, of course this post is more of a ceremonial post which is all the more reason for her to speak since her calender is free
  • Indian Home Minister, Shivraj Patil – speechless, I meant him not me (he just announced his resignation).
  • National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan – didn’t even know he existed.
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister, V. Deshmukh – complained he didn’t get specific information on the attack, was he expecting a call from them?
  • Maharashtra Home Minister, RR Patil said the incident was small, he heard the terrorists wanted to kill 5,000 people, so anything under that number shows how effective the government was.
  • Mayor of Bombay, Dr. Shubha Raul – Yet another ceremonial post. The one big benefit of this position is you get to live in a massive mayoral compound, not bad for doing nothing.
  • Bombay police management team – not much can be expected from them since most carry nothing more then a lathi - yes only a wood stick.
  • We the people – in the end we lost many friends and family.

But the award for the biggest loser goes to Raj Thakery and his MNS supporters.  For the past 8 months we’ve had to listen to his nonsense about how Bombay is for his people (Maharashtrians) and his retarded slogan “Amchi Mumbai” which means Our Bombay.  According to him only Maharashtrians should live here and everyone should speak the local language – Marathi. Yet, when the city was attacked the MNS must have been at home drinking tea and eating vada pav’s.

Random Thoughts

  • Lighting a candle seemed like a good idea till I read my friend Deepak’s blog entry who argues it’s a waste of time
  • Since Obama doesn’t technically start his term till January 20th, I wish India could hire him till then
  • Speaking of Obama, I also want to steal his slogan when it comes to political reform – “Yes We Can”
  • I did my bit of defiance today when running on Marine Drive near the Oberoi, I flipped off a government entourage of 15 vehicles.

My next blog entry is about what I intend to do and hope to make change.

Thanksgiving Massacre

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YES, I’M TYPING IN ALL CAPS, WHICH USUALLY INDICATES SOMEONE IS YELLING…I’M F’N PISSED.  To put this post in context, I just came from a friends house who unfortunately got caught in the crossfire at the Taj Palace along with his family.  If my thoughts or grammer are off…get over it.

Over the past week I had visited the Taj Palace several times, meeting friends or eating at the restaurants and had been to the Oberoi a couple times as well.  It’s senseless that people have lost their lives at the hands of a terrorist’s gun.  But even more pathetic has been the government’s inept response and lack of leadership.  Is it not enough that they make our lives miserable with the sheer volume of corruption, but they can’t seem to respond quickly to distress calls from citizens in need who they vouch to protect while campaigning.

Every damn citizen should squarely hold the government responsible for it’s actions (or rather in action) and this massacre should be ground zero for people to realize India IS NOT shining and has not been…it’s been an illusion all along.  9 – 10% GDP growth and they can’t even seize a hotel and take control of it?  Come on, wake up and smell the masala chai.

Who would have thought that South Central LA would be safer than South Bombay.

GM=Goodbye Motown

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What a joke, spend USD 50 billion 25 billion (maybe USD 5 billion by next week) to bailout the automotive industry. And why? Because the automotive industry is essential to the American economy according to the CEO’s of the Big 3. To give them any money would be a waste, they have consistently shown they are clueless when it comes to cars.  GM is the biggest offender of building cars made just for fleet sales.  Avis I believe is the largest customer of GM cars, then Avis rents out that trash to unsuspecting tourists and business people.  Let’s be real, does ANYONE believe Tiger Woods’ drives a Buick?  Even the newly updated Pontiac G6, looks like garbage and that was just released today at the LA Autoshow.

If the automotive companies do get some type of government assistance, it all should go towards alternative fuel R&D. GM created the EV1 which was a great attempt at an electric car and then several years later they came by and crushed every single one of them which is just beyond words. The hubris that only Detroit can create an alternative fuel car was evident on 60 Minutes in early October when Bob Lutz of GM was talking about Tesla Motors.  Telsa Motors is based in Silicon Valley and Bob Lutz referred to Tesla as “being from Silicone Valley.”  Hugh difference between Silicon and Silicone. He went on to say that Detroit should be the guys making an electic car not some start-up in the valley.

Since the 1980′s the American car companies have completely fumbled when it comes to cars that American’s want. I get the sense they have lost their way and are confused between garage and garbage.  Instead of building cars to put inside a garage, they have been building garbage that sits outside.

It’s not you, it’s US

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And when I say US, I mean the United States. Most people would agree the global credit crunch was by in large created by US firms and most likely will not return to the way it was before – easy credit.  I believe there will be a structural change in the way US consumers think and it means they have to live within their means. The idea of spending USD 4 on a cup of coffee just sounds retarded to me.  And, all that talk about wealthy individuals spending in a downturn:

- Toll Brothers – 30% cancellations on new homes
- Neiman Marcus –  October sales down 27%
- Mercedes Benz – October sales down 30%

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype, I remember coming out of college and the first thing I did was get a new car, a 1995 Nissan Maxima SE (the 4 door sports car!).  It would have been justifiable had I really needed it,  but for the first 4 years out of college I racked up over 600k miles on United and about 10k miles on my ride. Stupid…

People in India have a chance to change their “American ways” and not go down the same path as most Americans. And I think we are seeing it with the banks, a year ago I was getting several calls a day for credit cards or loans…now I get zero. And, many are becoming risk averse to financial products that just 6-8 months ago seemed like the best thing since sliced bread.  It’s a great learning experience in risk management for everyone to see that things can actually goto zero…ironically the “zero” was invented in India.

 

Friday Humor:

Q: How do you find a good small-cap fund manager?
A: Find a good large-cap fund manager, and wait

Q: What is the capital of Iceland?
A: About USD 3.50

Man Investments gets Manhandled

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Man Group PLC which runs Man Investments (MI) just reported numbers that are a bit jaw dropping. On June 30, 2008, MI had around USD 79.5 billion in assets under management (AUM). This week they reported they have about USD 61 billion, that is a 23% drop in AUM and they expect another USD 4 billion drop by the end of the year.  The drop in AUM is combination of investor withdrawals and investing strategies gone wrong.

MI is no slouch, they are “the guys” when it comes to automated trading strategies. MI was started when it acquired a piece of Mint Investment Management run by Larry Hite and Michael Delman in 1983.  Then things really took off when it acquired a piece of AHL in 1987, I wrote a bit about some of the guys behind AHL.  AHL continues to be the center piece of MI and hopefully will continue in the future.

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