‘Worse than 9/11, but Mumbai will recover’November 28th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) For a renowned travel writer who was trapped in the terrorist attack in Mumbai for several hours, the coordinated assault on India’s financial capital is no less than America’s 9/11. “It is worse than what happened Sep 11 in 2001 in the US,” an anguished Bhisham Mansukhani, a travel trade and hospitality writer associated with the Paprika Media of the Essar Group, told IANS by telephone from Mumbai.
Bhisham, a popular face in Mumbai’s hospitality circuit, was at a wedding reception at The Chambers, the roof-top club of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, one of the 10 places where terrorists struck Wednesday night. The attack spilled over into Friday.
“I was just explaining to a British couple that India had to live with terrorism, but it was better than New York or Rome when we were fired at,” he said.
“For the next six hours, we were holed up in the banquet hall. The lights and the air conditioners were switched off and we were told not to speak.”
At 4.30 a.m. Thursday, when Mansukhani and his group tried to leave the hotel, they were shot at again. “A man in front of me was shot at. We took him to a room and the hotel doctor bandaged his wounds.”
“There was nothing we could do for the next three hours, but just watch him bleed. I sat with him three hours. The commandos arrived at 9.30 a.m. and took him to the hospital,” the travel-trade writer said.
Mansukhani’s reactions to the terror siege of Mumbai are changing by the minute. “Yesterday, it was trauma and panic. Today, it is like walking in a bad dream. New fears are stalking the metropolis.”
Gunshots and explosions were heard at the Taj Hotel and Nariman House even on Friday even as over 140 people have been killed in the serial attacks since they started Wednesday.
Shock, outrage and an overwhelming sense of panic have crept into homes across Mumbai as well. Little girls are scared that their fathers will not return from work. Those who make a living on the city streets are afraid that a terrorist may be lurking in the next corner. People are scared to step out of their homes.
Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor told IANS from Mumbai: “My 14-year-old daughter woke up Thursday morning and burst into tears when she saw the images on television. On Thursday, I had closed my office, but my staff insisted that we should work today (Friday).”
“So we are here. But since morning, my daughter has been beseeching me to come home over telephone. She says she does not want to stay in this country any more.”
Kapoor felt the attack was worse than the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai.
“I heard the blasts on the streets in 1993, but we were all safe. It was all over in half-an-hour. The strikes seem very well-planned this time,” he said.
“Suddenly we all feel so close. Imagine, terrorists opening fire at diners and guests at fiv-star hotels and eateries. It is a nightmare,” Kapoor said.
But Mumbai, as Manshukhani says, has the ability to forget. It will get back on its feet.