My City Is Under Attack

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
As I write this, it's been more than 18 hours since the first of the terror strikes was reported in South Mumbai. The news channels won't report anything else, some of the presenters have been awake all night reporting on events as they emerge, and it seems to me like the whole city must be glued to their television sets waiting for all this to end.

I slept at around 2:00am last night, refusing to continue watching the news, expecting that things would be more or less resolved by the time I woke up. Even the news of top cops losing their lives, only made me believe that everything that needed to be done was being done. I resolved to not let the terror get to me, as that seemed like conceding defeat to the terrorists. And yet, I woke at 7:30am (an event in itself), and without bothering to brush my teeth, walked into the living room and turned the TV on.

If I were to track my mood since then, I'd say that I started the day simply assimilating all the information that all the different news channels beamed at me, still hopeful that things would end 'soon'. Seeing the Taj Mahal Hotel burning, was the first shock. The second shock was when I heard that the college classmate of an acquaintance died in the firing at Cafe Leopold. It always makes more of an impact when you feel you are connected to someone who was affected. It could so easily have been you.

Then there were the photographs of the terrorists themselves. They could easily pass off as visitors of the hotels and restaurants they have terrorized, if not for the weapons they carried.

A doctor from inside the Taj call up a news channel and said she was in a group of around 35 people, and that there was one person whom she was trying to take care of, who had been shot in the abdomen, and had been bleeding all night. She was speaking very calmly and tried to highlight the fact that the man urgently needed medical attention. In a second call from her a while later, she seemed extremely distraught. This while some people seemed to be leaving the Taj and were carried away in ambulances and BEST buses. The news presenters are tired and desperate for good news. Every assault by the army is termed the "final leg of the assault on the terrorists".

My father then told me that his cousin apparently visited Cafe Leopold almost every Wednesday, last night being an exception. She and her mother who lives in a building close to Nariman House are both safe.

Hours went by, and very little seemed to change. The hope I initially had, was replaced with fear, fear turned to sorrow, and sorrow turned to despair. Stop attacking my city, a part of me screams. End this insanity now.

And I'm dozens of kilometers away from where the main action is still on. Even 3-4 kilometers away from the Marriot in Juhu - the closest place to here where firing took place. This is the first time that I'm actually in Mumbai when terror has stuck here. All the other times, I was either in Chennai or in the US. And yet, a terror attack that has lasted for so long, can hardly compare with bomb blasts that are over in a short span of time. There is going to be a difference in the psychological impact of events that last an hour, versus events that last a whole day.

I thank all the soldiers, firemen and police personnel that have been involved in trying to end this stand-off, and hope that it all gets over soon.