The past few months have been a total cultural rinse cycle for me. Shedding inhibitions and learning new things. I do not admit to being more tolerant or more knowledgeable, but just stating a fact. This involved a lot of solitude, even though they say solitude is not the best way of experiencing culture, its the shedding part that helped me refine myself. Now lets not digress from the main point. The disambiguation of Black Friday is quite a list. But if you are in the US the first thing that comes to your mind is the door buster 4:00 AM morning Black Friday sales. Again this is not what I wanted to put down here. I use this like a journal which helps to reflect back upon change and so the most important incident that I wanted to mention was the siege in Bombay. I usually try to avoid thinking or talking about this place cause it holds a special place in my heart and is usually incorruptible in the way I perceive it even though it functions through a fabric of corruption. I have seen quite a few bad things during almost all my visits to Bombay but never heard any to this scale. Last time my father even stuck in VT during the bomb blast and we didn’t hear from him for quite a while and again this time while I was watching the news I get a phone call telling me that he’s ok. I am fortunate that I am not even remotely in a situation of the victims and not even in Bombay and am thankful. But then again the safety of the city in which I was born and love to hate is literally non existent today. The city goes on, as any financial capital does but its a gloomier night .. a much gloomier night.
Thursday, November 27, 2008 10:46 AM (Mumbai)
India’s financial capital has been hit by multiple terrorist attacks. The Taj Mahal hotel on the Gateway of India has become the symbol of a nation-attacked.
The last ten hours saw flames engulf the landmark domes of the Taj across the Mumbai skyline. Terrorists holed up in the hotels heritage wing resorted to gunfire leading to an encounter with the police.
11 pm: Firing around Colaba, terrorists arrive inside Taj hotel, Gateway 12 midnight: Firing of hand grenades inside Taj Hotel, police gheraos the hotel, ready to shoot on order, area cordoned off 1 am: Massive blast inside the central dome of the Taj Palace hotel, flames around the structure, smoke cloud lift up to the sky, two rounds of hand grenades 2 am: One round of hand grenade thrown outside the window from Taj’s heritage wing to the park infront of the Gateway; police ready to fire and enter in big numbers inside the hotel 2:30 am: Army deployed, two trucks full arrive and enter hotel lobby and outside. Media asked to move back by 100 metres. Fire spreads across top floor of Taj heritage wing 2:45 am: Some people exit from kitchen fire exit and are taken from the new wing of Taj to the back exit to leave, guided by police 3:00 am: Fire engines arrive, police sirens go off. Shooting and gunfiring heard inside lobby and heritage building. Fire spreads quickly to the left dome of the hotel, engulfs entire column in flames 3:30 am: People scream from inside the heritage building as fire spreads. People seen at windows howling for help. Fire engines start rescue, try putting out fire on top floor with water sprays. 3:45 am: Fire engine ladders pull out people from windows while simultaneously trying to get the fire doused. People are slowly brought down as firemen run with search torches, break windows to pull people out. 4:00 am: Men, women climb down, howling as they are rescued. Most of them say they were told to stay in their rooms. Some of them had seen the terrorists shooting around. Most of them come down shocked by smoke and firing. Ambulances take them to nearby hospitals 4:30 am: Another bout of big firing inside hotel. Action shifts from left heritage site where the fire continues to spread quickly to middle of the hotel as terrorists run from the centre dome to the new tower 5 am: Solid rounds of firing, police steps up heat with commandos and bomb squads arriving. Public told to move away. Fire engines continue rescue as people are brought down. Fire flames right again, both central and left dome in fire again 5:30 am: Fire appears under control, but terrorists holed up in new tower in the exclusive club of Taj called Chambers. 100-150 locked in there, most influential corporates, businessman, policy makers at the venue. People kept hostage 6:00 am: Police, navy, army forces take control and say they are ready for encounter. Firing across the building. Windows are broken. Personnel gherao Gateway and top floors of Taj with sniper guns 7:00 am: Policemen spread across the floor on the ground of the Gateway of India. Another round of firing 8:00 am: People are brought out to the lobby, some people told to duck down behind scaffolding as a new round of firing takes place between terrorists and the police outside the main porch. 8:30 am: Another 50 people are brought out of the Taj club called Chambers and taken slowly by the police in Best buses, to evacuate them 9 am: More rounds of firing, many more people stuck inside 10 am: Police almost finishes encounter, until one more round of firing happens 11 am: Police ends encounter, casualties rise. Many people are taken on stretchers outside in critical care vans, some alive, some injured and some dead
Even though it ended, it was a black Friday for over 195 of them and the officers as the Taj burned.