(Phil Smith is General Manager for Reuters News, South Asia and at the time of the 2008 attacks was Reuters Editor, South Asia based in Mumbai and living in the south of the city near Nariman House)
I was enjoying a relatively early night on that Wednesday at my home in Colaba, when I was jolted awake by a loud bang and several smaller ones. Thinking it was just leftover festival fireworks and people having fun, I turned over, only to be roused by the unmistakable sound of automatic gunfire.
As any journalist would, I quickly left the flat where I lived and made my way carefully towards where the sound of the shots had been coming from. I didn’t know it at the time but this was Nariman House, a Jewish outreach centre where six occupants were killed by the attackers.
When I arrived, the streets were pretty much deserted and remembering my Reuters hostile environment training — that car bodies do not stop bullets — I crouched down behind the engine block of a builder’s truck and started to phone in copy to our bureaus in New Delhi and Mumbai and arousing the rest of the reporting team. At this stage I had no clue that simultaneous attacks on Victoria Terminus and Leopold Café were in progress until the guys in the bureaus tipped me off as local media picked up on the story.
So I took off and ran towards Leopold’s which is only a couple of kilometres from Nariman House. During that trip, aside from wondering what these attacks were all about, my most vivid memory was wondering just when one of the pack of feral dogs chasing me and barking madly would sink its teeth into my calves. Also, that I should beware of the roving police and army trucks who might just decide that someone running along empty streets in these kind of circumstances might be a potential target.