Its worse than 9/11, but we will recover, says battered Mumbai
(Reaction story: Surviror’s tale and reaction of outrage travel-trade and hospitality industry)
New Delhi, Nov. 28 For the people on Ground Zero in Mumbai and those in the travel trade and hospitality industry which have taken a direct hit, the coordinated attacks on Mumbai that began Wednesday night is no less than 9/11— the day terrorists bombed America.
But the city pledges to be back on its feet soon.
“It is worse than what happened September 11 in 2001 in US,” an anguished Bhisham Mansukhani, a veteran trade and hospitality writer, associated with the Paprika Media of the Essar Group, told IANS over telephone from Mumbai.
Bhisham, a popular face in Mumbai’s hospitality circuit, was at wedding reception at The Chambers (the roof-top club) of the Taj Mahal Hotel, when the terrorists struck at 9.45 pm.
“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.
“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 am, when Mansukhani and his group tried to leave the hotel, they were shot at again. “A man in front of me was shot. 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 am and took him to the hospital,” the travel-trade writer said.
The shock, outrage and an overwhelming sense of panic are not only palpable on the streets, but have crept into homes across Mumbai as well.
Mansukhani’s reactions to the 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.”
Little girls are scared that their fathers will not return home from work and the man on the streets, who makes a living on sweat and blood, are not sure if there is a terrorist lurking in the next corner.
Diners are scared to eat out.
“My 14-year-old daughter woke up Thursday morning and burst into tears when she saw the images on television. On Thursday, I 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,” celebrity chef and television anchor Sanjeev Kapoor told IANS from Mumbai.
Kapoor, who was working at The Centaur Hotel in Juhu when Mumbai was attacked by terrorists in 1992, felt that Wednesday night’s attack were perhaps worse than the 1992 serial blasts in Mumbai.
“I heard the blasts on the streets in 1992, but we were all safe. It was all over in half-an-hour. The strikes seem very well-planned this time,” he said.
The refrain is unanimous. Mumbai, used to terrorism, has never been able to connect so closely to an attack before.
“Suddenly we all feel so close. Imagine, terrorists opening fire at diners and guests at five 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.
By Madhusree Chatterjee
for Indo-Asian News Service