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The couple that evaded terror, twice!

December 26, 2008

Last month Dara Huang and John Fesko -- Americans living in Basle, Switzerland, went to India to attend a wedding in Goa. "It was a beautiful wedding and probably the best trip I'd ever taken," Huang, 27, an architect, says.

After two days in Goa they went to Bangalore for a couple of days. Fesko, 30, runs a pharmaceutical company and he visited some generic manufacturing companies in Bangalore.

On Wednesday, November 26, they arrived in Mumbai on a two-day visit and booked into the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. That evening, while they walked around Colaba, the two stopped over for a drink at the Leopold Cafe. Soon, they witnessed the terrorist attacks at the restaurant. They somehow managed to escape and headed back to the Taj only to experience more attacks.

Fesko is now back in Basle, while Huang is visiting her family in Florida for the holidays. She spoke to Aseem Chhabra on the phone.

Had you planned to stay at the Taj in Mumbai?

We had been checking prices, because when we were in Goa and Bangalore we hadn't booked a hotel in Mumbai. But we loved the Taj in Goa so much that we were hoping to stay at the Taj in Mumbai. But the online prices for the hotel were from $700 to $900 per night. But then we checked again and it had dropped to $450 a room but in the Tower (the building adjacent to the Palace, which the terrorists stormed). John kept saying that it was his dream to stay at the Taj and so we decided to the book the room for two nights.

John had to see a factory, so I spent the whole day sitting by the pool and brought my laptop to work. I was thinking that this is not a pool. This is an oasis. It's unbelievable how calm it was there and the city was loud, crowded and bustling.

I later went to the market behind the Taj and was tackled by Indian beggars. And so I came back to the hotel.

Image: Dara Huang and John Fesko.

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