An Account of Being trapped at home on 26/11

it was a bright sunny day.... 26th November,2008. The day life changed for Mumbai, a city in the ocean of the country India...
It was a normal day at work, and I couln't expect anything to go wrong. I had a doctor's appointment in Andheri, so I rushed from work to go for that in the evening-6PM.
I felt-light hearted after meeting my neurologist.. Who knew that within the next few hours life could change so much..
I took a 7.30 train from Andheri and reached Churchgate by 8.30PM.
There was something very very very wrong as I exited the station...I remember clearly, that just catching a taxi to go home in Colaba was troublesome, because every taxi driver refused..
It was not untill one taxi driver told me there was gun shooting going on there did I realise the enormity of silence that gripped the city.

I travelled in the taxi, quietly- looking down all the lanes I passed, as the taxi driver pulled up on my lane-Strand Cinema Road- one of the lanes right in the center of everything.
I was alone at home that night-grandma had gone to her sisters..
I decided to pick up dinner from the resteraunt opposite my building..While i was anxiously waiting for my dinner to get parceled so I could take it home, I heard the gunshots...so crystal clear-first taking place at cafe Leopold...it sounded like thunder...as i waited there, petrified.
The resteraunt shut down its gates closed the doors, and I only wanted to be home then.
One of the waiters escorted me opposite to my building..
i was too scared to cross alone... When I reached my house.. I immediately went to my neighbour's house and felt a bit more safe! We all were there together.. building friends, neighbour hood friends..
I spent the nights there, and for a full 3 day stretch, the terrorists had taken over the city!
Newsreporters were on the terrace of the building opposite my building, people sprawling all over the terrace of their buildings in the vicinity.
I knew that if I went to the terrace there were chances of the random gunshots passing by me. I kept receiving calls from family to stay at home, not go anywhere near the windows.
In fact one of friends from the opposite building had a bullet fly right above his head, because he ventured out on his terrace!
Quickly the action transported to Nariman house after terror struck cafe Leopold.
Nariman house- the home to Jewish Rabbi, his wife and child and many other jews had been possessed in the hands of the terrorists.
Intense bombs exploded on the floors of the building. Grenade bombs, which were accompanied by a fierce gun battle all at a distance sooo close to my building... !
I was scared.. petrified to death, to realise that terrorists were occupying a building so close to where i stayed...
that my building could be targeted next.
the neighbouring buildings in the vicinity were all evacuated for safety...
Alot of my neighbours in the building and from the opposite building had gone to my building terrace to see the battle..
it was a complete nightmare..a nightmare where i was absolutely paralyzed with fear... i watched the news-constantly flicking from TIMES NOW to ndtv back again and again, watching what was happening., although i could see it all outside my window! this was no ordinary attack...Grenades were contantly being thrown at the Nariman house and I perpetually saw the building blow up in fumess... the gun shots pierced the silence of the air and i didnt know if hiding under a bed would be safer!
I heard the terrorists were entering random buildings killing innocents people and leaving, making me even more scared..The Taj, Oberoi, andTrident....were all down the same lane... The heritage site of Taj was blowing up in flames and dust in the night as I watched the fire grip the domes of the Taj...It was heart-breaking to watch this damage being inflicted onto these structures, how heartless men can hate man-kind so much to inflict so much pain!
What are they proving by doing all this, by killing so many people?
Not being able to sleep- my eyes were sore red, I watched this battle non-stop either through the window or the news. I was too scared to go to sleep, as my body ached to shut its eyes for a few minutes...
It was 6.30am when I shut my eyes..dying to get just a bit of sleep..Soon enough I awoke to the sound of a fierce gun battle at the Nariman house... Soon I heard a helicopter flying over my building, drowning out the sound, as army officers began to enter the Nariman House.. The lane in front of my building was the lane used by the Fire Brigade, Indian Army, NSG Commandos, Mumbai Police. Using BEST buses to be transported the Indian army officers waited, for the right time to enter Namriman house.
Soon enough, the NSG Commandos from Delhi were called on scene.. They descended from a helicopter which was flying above the Nariman house.. They were so efficient..in front of my eyes zippping down a rope onto the terrace building of Nariman House.
Watching the 4th floor blow up, as the never ending explosions of grenade bombs took place was horrifying. I had never imagined I would see any such thing in real life..
After two days I thought things would calm down, but it only intensified... the Taj was in flames.. the terrorists had taken over the old monumental structure. there were deadly gun battles at Trident and Oberoi..
I received phonecalls from my family in the suburbs, from my friends in Chennai, Delhi, and other friends, my sister in the US and other family members there.
I could not leave my own building for 3 days- being held up in the building. I remember even when my neighbour wanted to buy vegetables she had to be escorted by one of the policemen who were surrounding my building.
It was horrifying to know that one of the vegetable lenders from colaba market who supplied to my neighbours had supplied to the terrorists as well!
Actions needs to be taken, and our government, politicians need to start taking the right steps for security of our nation against terrorism. Enough is Enough, and India has been subject to terrorism for way too long. Terrorism keeps striking the nation- in one city or the other, but there is never a solid corrective measure to prevent this from taking place.
Today, I am probably not the only one who feels scared about this.. the whole city of Mumbai is aghast at whats happened. And we just can't sit back and let this happen. Our government and politicians really need to become more effective and ensure safety to citizens.
We have to hold onto hope..we have to be strong, in the face of such cowards who despise their own life, that they think killing other people will fix their messed up life.
One of my friends from Chennai had taken a telephonic interview of mine for the Indian Express, about my experience during these three days. Her article captured many experiences of people who were at the Taj, Oberoi, Trident, and in Colaba. It surely was a winter of fear, just like she called it in her article.

Comments

  1. i think u should become the chief editor for some paper or magzine u have some fine work!! keep it going.

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  2. hey karina, i read youe account of 26/11. . those three days were surreal. when i heard about cama hospital i thought about xaviers. onne of my friends works as a waiter in taj. but he returned home early that day oeing to first shift

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