Magazine

First Person/Karambir Kang

Hero of 2008 Mumbai attack now in Boston

Hailed for helping hotel guests during the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace, Karambir Kang is the hotel chain’s new general manager in Boston.

Josh Campbell
Hailed for helping hotel guests during the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace, Karambir Kang is the hotel chain’s new general manager in Boston.

>You were the general manager of the Taj Mahal Palace when it was stormed by a Pakistani militant group on November 26, 2008. How were you able to remain composed after hearing gunshots and knowing your wife and two children were trapped in the hotel? Initially, one did not know the magnitude of the attack. I knew that we had a very qualified staff. A lot of them had been with us for more than 25 years. They rose to the occasion and put the lives of the guests before anyone else’s. There were 1,500 people in the hotel that night. The terrorists came with a clear mandate to cause as much damage as they could. There were only 31 casualties.

> Your wife and children were among those who died. Why continue at the helm of the Taj Mahal Palace after the attack? I just thought to myself that we all have to build our Taj Mahals. Do you know the story of the real Taj Mahal? It was built by the king Shah Jahan for his wife, who he dearly loved. The Taj Mahal Palace hotel was also a monument of love for the people of India and the city of Mumbai. I had to stay for my family. Once the hotel had reopened, then I thought, yes, my job was done and it was time for me to move on.  

> Why choose Boston? When I think of Boston, it’s a very historic town, a place with values. And this hotel is the grand dame of Boston hotels, as was the Taj Mahal in Mumbai. I always feel that great hotels like these have a soul. My vision is to really take the Taj to the next level in the US and provide superlative service to our guests.

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> I’ve read you have a new wife and children. So it seems like Boston represents a fresh start? Yes, it surely does. I met my present wife in college, where we used to date. Then we went our own ways and met up again after 20 years. We have a 15-year-old daughter [from her first marriage], and together we have a 10-month-old baby girl. We are really looking forward to being together in Boston.