The nightmare on television screens is real
Just returned from the Oberoi where hundreds are still inside – Indians, foreigners, cooks and cleaners. London in 2005, Mumbai trains 2006.
And then reflect… strangely I was in both hotels just hours before Wednesday’s attacks.
Heavy security at the Taj in place since Islamabad Marriot bombing had just been lifted. As I entered to pick up a cake at 6 p.m., I pushed my way around a metal detector. I was in a hurry, the security guard gave me a knowing glance.
At 6:30 p.m. I was at the Oberoi – I walked in for a haircut (I have a thing for the hotel’s traditional barber shop). In the lobby two heavily decorated Maharashtra police officers chatting. One carrying a wooden baton with shiny metal tips. How odd it looked – what would it be used for I wondered… a marching band?
As I waited for an elevator down to the shop, I listened in on three French women chatting about shopping – the barber shop was its usual calm – one of the quietest places in the city – and just 15 minutes in and out.
As I made my way home through Mumbai’s insane traffic I could feel my blood pressure rising… it happens every day.
Never mind. As this tragedy unfolds there is an image in my mind – the lobby of the Oberoi – bustling with foreign business people, tourists, and even police. Now that polished white marble floor is host to a different world.
Until now this has been about the “rest of India” – bicycle bombs in bustling vegetable markets, cinemas, attacks on trains. Now the nightmare on television screens is real.