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.