First I have to thank everyone- friends, family and strangers who emailed, called or sent text messages to find out how we were doing during the Mumbai terrorist attacks. We were home safe and sound working on our rickshaw run designs and playing guitar hero, when I got a message from a friend saying to turn on the news. Of course my first instinct was that something had happened to Obama! Instead the horrific attacks were taking place right before our eyes. TV crews in Mumbai show anything and everything often focusing considerably on the blood and gore. I think we witnessed someone being shot to death and of course it was replayed over and over again.
It was really horrible watching this all night long. Of course we couldn’t turn it off and then we were fielding calls from friends from all over the world. The following day the entire city shut down and foreigners were told to stay indoors. It was pretty shocking how quiet the city was. After the floods in 2005 and the train bombings in 2006 the city was back to normal the following day (well as soon as the flood waters receeded!). The only thing I can think is that these attacks were so out of the ordinary and really hit home for the upper class. It wasn’t ‘those other people’ this time.. it was us they were targeting.
The night of the attacks our friend was over and she spent the night since we still weren’t exactly sure what was happening and how far up the city the mayhem would extend. But the next day I felt ok and wasn’t so concerned.. but I also wasn’t leaving my immediate neighborhood! I think if I went to town on a regular basis and had to work there I probably would have been a lot more freaked out, but since I always seem to stay in my neighborhood, I feel safe. But then this also scares me.. Are we so used to terrorist attacks these days that it doesn’t instil as much fear as it should? Or is it all of the violent movies we watch?
The night after the attacks we had plans to attend a huge Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by the American Women’s Group at the Taj Lands End (sister hotel to the Taj Mahal Palace that was attacked). Of course the event was cancelled, but I would have gone if they still held it. I might have been freaked out once I got there, but felt that I couldn’t let terrorism control my life.
In the midst of all of this, we were moving apartments. It was scheduled for Friday, but since the city had been shut the previous day, the new apartment wasn’t finished and not enough movers showed up at work, and the firing was still going on downtown. So we postponned to the next day. It was probably good that I had so many other things on my mind, so I couldn’t just sit and watch tv constantly – although i don’t think the tv was turned off for days!
A good friend of ours was down photographing it all for the New York Times. He thinks I’m funny because each time I’d see some new explosion or firing towards the reporters I would message him to make sure he was ok. He always replied in the affirmative! He has an amazing photo journal and account of it here
We know of many people who were down there when it happened, but thankfully everyone we know personally is fine and well. But one peice that really hit home for me was the seige on the Chabad House. I am not Jewish, but since college I have known and been very close to people from Israel or American Jews and feel a close connection to their religion and culture. I have always had many friends here in Mumbai who are Jewish and who visited the Chabad house every Friday night. I’ve heard all about the Rabbi and his wife and now all I can think about is their orphaned son Moshe. It’s such a tragedy. But him being rescued by the Nanny shows again how amazing the Indian people are. They are willing to risk their lives to save others. We’ve heard this story over and over again from people rescued from the two hotels as well. So to them and the police (even with NO resources and no training tried as hard as they could) and the commandos who went in with little protection, we thank you for your dedication to your job and the country.
We’ve now moved into our new place and I have still not left Bandra. Too many things to do in the new place, that I’ve not had time to venture anywhere else. But I do look forward to going to town soon – I feel we must support our city that we’ve made home for the last few years.
It was really great though through all of this to get calls and messages from my friends all over the world – France, US, Scotland, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Iran, Russia, Egypt, and probably some more that i’ve not remembered at the moment. It’s great to hear from all of you and I hope you stay in touch more regularly now!