Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai under Attack

26th November, 2008. It's a day we will never forget. But for everyone in my house, we remember it every year 'coz its my sister's birthday. We wished her on phone this year 'coz she got married a fortnight back and was on her honeymoon.

We'd been working late in office due to crisis. At around 10 pm, we started getting calls from home as well as smses from friends inquiring about our safety and about firing in some parts of Mumbai. At first it seemed like some small incident. We'd heard of bomb blasts. And firing seemed like a small thing. It sounded more like policemen trying to get some situation under control. When we're working, the outside world is lost to us. Then slowly there were more calls from our families a little stating that some terrorists had entered the Taj and Oberoi and were firing at people. Also came to know that Central Railway trains had shut down due to firing at CST station. Somehow it all didn't make sense. Still we had the feeling that all was happening in South Mumbai and we had not much to fear. Our office is near Powai (Andheri- East). Then we heard of a blast in a taxi at Vile Parle. Now this was quite close. We were already bogged down with work. And already late. That was already tension for our families. And to add to it, this. The news was fast spreading. First CST, the Taj, then Oberoi, then Cama Hospital, then Nariman House, then taxi blasts.... it seemed like the terror was slowly spreading through Mumbai. We all seemed lost. Since we were still in office, some of our family members started panicking and crying. We also didn't know what to do.

The situation was bad in office as well as out of it. We were thinking whether to stay back or go home. For girls, it seemed scary to venture out late and that too amidst such a situation. Another female colleague had each and every relative enquiring of her safety. Her husband was really worried. My Dad's health went bad. Mom was alone. She was getting calls from relatives outside Mumbai. Brother was in office. She was caught at once with Dad's health on one side, me on the other and non-stop calls from relatives. Of course, she couldn't handle it and started crying. I had pacify her.

Luckily, my colleague's husband, Sandesh, (who stays at Borivli) called back and made up his mind to come to office in his car to pick up his wife. And promised to drop me till my house too. That was a relief for me as well as my family. But still we weren't much sure what the situation outside was. When Sandesh left home, he had his small son, his sister and mom crying. Everyone seemed to be crying for each other. It was crazy.

Finally we left office. Western Express Highway was empty (most people seemed to have left early). But we were stopped many places by policemen, who were doing a thorough check of all vehicles passing by. There was Naka Bandi at Dahisar Check Post as well as additional places. Finally reached home in one piece. Unusually, there weren't many people on the road as many seemed to prefer to stay indoors or had rushed home early. Central Railway line people were stuck. But later learnt that they had special trains late night (much after last train hours) to help stranded people reach home.

Only after reaching home and watching television did I realised how bad the entire thing was. After that, could not sleep inspite of terrible headache as every news update brought more news of tragedy. People dying, top police officials dying; it seemed never-ending.... It was a long night. Finally slept in the wee hours of morning. And chose to stay indoors next day, more because my health went bad with stress and over-work!