Fareed Zakaria, who hosts a show on foreign affairs on CNN on Sunday afternoons, shared on yesterday’s show that his mother, Fatima Zakaria, is the editor of the Taj Magazine and her office was located in the Taj Hotel. Thus the recent attacks felt rather personal to him. I’m sure we can all understand his feelings. My family’s small, almost infinitesimal association with the Taj makes it feel a little personal to us also.
On our very first visit to Mumbai, way back when the bustling, metropolitan city was still called Bombay, we stopped by the hotel for lunch one day on our way to the Elephanta Caves. As we walked through the reception area our sandals sank into the thickest, most luxuriously plush carpets I had ever encountered. I had never been to a five-star hotel before. I remember the brass sculpture of the stallions we passed by, and wonder what happened to them.
We’d been in India several days by that time and were over our initial culture shock as people refer to it, and thought a more westernized meal we knew would be available there would be a treat for the kids, especially the younger one who complained of Ketchup being too hot and spicy those days. The girls and I ordered a soup called Cocky Locky Potage. As the name implies, it was a delicious mildly spiced creamy chicken soup with potatoes.
As we learned earlier this morning, however, it may not be over yet. There’s reason to believe there may be at least five other terrorists unaccounted for. Apparently a hijacked Indian fishing boat used by the gunmen was discovered off the city shore, and had equipment for 15 men on board. The most telling note of the find was the 15 toothbrushes. Just the notion of 15 toothbrushes sounds so ludicrous to me. Imagine! You’re on your way to bomb and butcher as many people as possible, and you’re thinking ahead to brushing your teeth when you’re all finished?
In fact, the one baby-faced 21-year-old in custody, said their aim was to kill 5,000 people, or “as many people as possible.” With only nine bodies accounted for, at least five more gunmen could still be at large. Other sources suggest even more, saying it would have taken at least two dozen attackers to carry out such a mission.
Indeed, the Intelligence Bureau has sounded a fresh alert to Delhi Police asking them to step up security at vital installations in India’s Capitol after an email–purportedly signed by the Deccan Mujahadeen–warned of a repeat of the Mumbai terror attack at both the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the three major railway stations in that city.
I’ve just spent several minutes browsing and reading Indian news webs and looking at photographs of some of the areas of mass destruction. The picture of the bullet scarred interior of the headquarters of the Jewish movement is eerie, and that of the face of the only gunman captured alive in the Mumbai terror attacks is disturbing to say the least.
Hubby has nephews and a niece who all live in Mumbai with their families. Everyone was reported safe on Thursday, which made us feel some relief. Then we received an email from the niece today, who tells us her husband’s office overlooks the Trident (formerly the Oberoi Hotel) and the two of them normally pass the VT station at the Trident on their way home. Luckily they left work on time that day, but in retrospect realize they could easily have been caught in the crossfire had they worked late. Naturally they are glad to be safe and sound, but admit it will take some time for the city to get over the shock. Having lived through 9/11, we wish we knew how long that might be.
I’ve been thinking of you and hubby all weekend and I’m SO glad to hear that all the family is safe and accounted for.
What a HORRIFIC event! I can barely believe the destruction and killing that was done. So, so sad.
WORLD peace……how nice that would be!
I am delighted that your family was not harmed. Still, I grieve for those who were lost. Something must be done and soon. As long as governments such as Pakistan give shelter to maniacs, these things will keep happening.
My husband G, who grew up in Pakistan and India, had begun to say that he would visit India again. Now he is muttering that he wouldn’t go back to Pakistan. He lived through the first war that created Pakistan watching the war move back and forth from a rooftop in Lahore.
I too am so glad all your family is ok.
I’m not sure why I continue to be stunned at how easy it is to create a terrorist, a person so blinded by hatred that he feels justified in killing as many innocent people as possible for his cause. I don’t know how you stop these senseless attacks when the perpetrators feel that dying is an honor for them and their families. This is a very trying time for India and Pakistan, two countries with nuclear capabilities and a history of distrust. I’m happy to hear that Snookie’s family is safe. They must be very shaken.
Alice, I am very glad that your family is ok. I have also been following this tragedy closely, with horror and a sense of personal threat and loss. One of your comments struck me- when you referred to the Chabad House as “ultra-orthodox”. It makes me think that you have been reading and watching international news, because there is a very stringent line that I have seen between British/European press and American: the line between saying Jewish and saying ultra-orthodox. I feel that the British papers are implying that the Chabad House was some type of extremist organization and therefore that some type of twisted sense was made by them being targeted. The Lubavitch are not, in my opinion, ultra-Orthodox. On the contrary. They are welcoming and inclusive as the ultra orthodox are not. I know this from personal experience.
It’s been interesting to watch the differential coverage. And very indicative of how Jews are treated in different areas
G, You were absolutely dead on right about my ultra-Orthodox line. I’m very concerned about getting my spelling and other facts straight that I actually went to an international newsweb to find the correct spelling and title for the temple and that’s where it came from. Without thinking it, I just typed it that way feeling great that I had it correct. Now that you point out these facts to me, I see it differently. I believe I will simply edit that reference out. (It’s my blog and I can do what I want with it, right?) Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Thanks to all of your for stopping by and commenting.
Alice and Pasu, I had no idea where your family lived in India, and was looking for your comments. What a relief they are safe, although it sounds as if a couple of them had a close call. Please keep us informed on further developments that the news media may not report.