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Guest Nino Mohan
Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai
Should We Cancel Our Travel Plans?
by Nino Mohan

Meet Our Guest Writer

NinoNino Mohan....was born and raised in New Delhi, India. He has been in the travel business for over 30 years both in India and the U.S. and has led groups of American tourists through his native land for over 25 years. He is a graduate from Delhi University with major in tourism and further post graduate training in tourism industry. He was in charge of American desk at a large destination management company in Delhi for five years before he arrived in California in 1981. He worked 6 years with one of the largest tour operators in the country as Director Special Tours, arranging, marketing and operating special tours for museums, zoos, alumni associations and more before he launched his own company in 1991. He is now the owner of Worldview Tours, which is amongst the top five tour operators to India for upscale tours. A large majority of their business is arranging trips to India for sponsors such as Alumni Associations of UCLA, USC, Columbia, Georgetown, U of Washington, and National Trust for Historic Preservation, Philadelphia Zoo, Toledo Zoo and others.

He speaks three Indian languages, which help him guide his groups through different parts of India. With his knowledge of the country, his experience in the travel business, his friends in the Indian travel industry, combined with his humor and friendliness, offer perspectives that are hard to match for any India traveler.


should be angry at the politicians in India for having failed to provide safety and security that the citizens and tourists expect. I should be angry at the terrorists for subjecting so many families to horror by killings innocents, terrorizing and injuring their loved ones. But this is not the time for finding faults. It is time to celebrate good deeds of the brave souls who saved lives and to stand up against terrorism to let the terrorists know that their cowardly acts are wrong and do not scare us.

smoke billows from the Taj Mahal Hotel as it comes under terrorist attack, Nov. 2008

I was there that night in the Taj Mahal Hotel in the beautiful Heritage wing. I saw with my own eyes what most of us would perhaps see only in movies. I heard the dreadful gun fire and grenade blasts all night. It was surreal and horrific. My survival was perhaps due to sheer luck or divine intervention. For my family back home in California, Thanksgiving this year has gained a new meaning. Please join me in sending our deepest condolences and prayers to the families who have lost their loved ones and to those who are affected by this tragedy. I want to salute the brave workers of the Taj hotel and the security forces who were trying to save lives in very dangerous conditions. How can only a handful of men armed only with guns and grenades cause so much damage in human life and property?   

In a country as large as India with 1.1 billion people, there have been some low tech terrorism attacks in India in the past but they were directed towards the Hindu majority and not the tourists. Similarly in the past many other terrorist attacks have been successful around the world in cities each with very high tech security forces, Madrid, London, Israel, Russia and in New York, when 19 men armed with only box cutters caused so much havoc. Whether the Virginia Tech shootings or the Oklahoma City bombing or the unfortunate attack in Bali, in the future, we can expect terrorism to continue in one way or the other. Until the world figures out a way to root out evil, we all have to accept the fact that we now live in a different world.

firetrucks battling the blaze at the Taj Mahal Hotel

Religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence has been the foundation of Indian culture for over 3000 years. India has absorbed people from across the world to create a unique society a hundred hold more diverse than anywhere else in the world. For centuries Jews have thrived in India without fear of persecution. In ancient India the man with more knowledge and wisdom was more respected than the one with more wealth, arms and power. India is a peaceful nation, it has never attacked another sovereign nation and today it is the largest democracy in the world. It is hard to imagine that a country which was largely perceived in the west as backward, full of poverty, hunger, chaotic has contributed to the world so significantly. Today India is viewed as an engine for economic growth and democracy. Very smart and capable Indian professionals are working in large numbers in the US and Europe in high tech firms, large industries, medical industry and various research institutions. India’s economy is growing at an annual rate of 8 percent. India’s largest export today is ‘Information Technology’. Over 500 US companies are doing business with India and a large number of Americans are working in India. From a tourism point of view India continues to be the favorite amongst seasoned travelers who find the people most friendly and a visit to India most rewarding. 

It is probably the biggest goal of terrorists to cause panic and mayhem and to destroy what most of us in the democratic world believe in. The killing of foreign nationals in the Mumbai terror attacks might have given international publicity to terrorists, but in the process they have "acquired" a large number of "powerful enemies", a former UN official has said. The big question for all of us is should we succumb to the panic which the terrorists want to create? What can a common citizen do? The more we are afraid and allow ourselves to live in fear, the more we are letting the terrorists win. One should continue to take precautions and keep safety a primary goal. It is important to choose your travel plans carefully. Keep your eyes and ears open; avoid large political gatherings or very late nights out alone in foreign lands. Make sure to study the fire evacuation maps always found behind the hotel doors. Carry a working cellular phone. Instead of winging it, let your travel expert plan and arrange all logistics in advance. Accordingly to a study of hotel attacks that covered 1968 through mid-2005, The likelihood of a hotel guest’s being killed in a terrorist attack is about one in a million, the average American has about a one in 8,000 chance of dying in an auto accident. Let us not stop living our normal lives, let us not stop traveling. Life must go on. The rewards of traveling are greater than the airport security lines and other such minor inconveniences.

the Taj Mahal Hotel in flames at night

Outrage by citizens of India has already resulted in many politicians’ resignations; establishment of new security measures at hotels and airports, the national security agency, the coast guards has been beefed up with new pledges for security equipment and aircrafts.  The US state department has not added India in the list of travel warnings but instead has issued a travel alert recommending tourists to keep low profile. As life returns to normal in Mumbai the Governments of major tourist generating markets for India in Europe and other parts of the world have greatly diluted their travel advisories issued to their citizens in wake of terror attacks. The publisher of National Geographic Traveler Dawn Drew has recently said ‘We must be careful where ever we go -- but we must continue to travel to India, a largely peaceful and beautiful country. Just like the US today and immediately following 9/11.”  Except the two hotels that are affected one of which is already scheduled to reopen for business on December 21, 2008, the rest of the Mumbai city and the rest of India is now normal. Life goes on, tourism continues on, hotels are busy and all airports and flights are operating normally. India is perhaps safer to travel now because of heightened security everywhere, prices are falling down for tourist services due to better exchange rates, many new hotels are complete this year and drop in oil prices have resulted in lower costs in flying.

It is encouraging to know that most US citizens who had planned to travel with us to India in comings months have not cancelled their trips. In solidarity with the Indian tourism industry of which I am a part of since 1976, I am personally leading two trips to India and Bhutan in March-May 2009. These tours are especially designed for TravelingBoy readers. You are welcome to call me personally at (800) 373 0388 or email me at nino@worldviewtours.com.

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

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New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA



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