Salaam Mumbai

The day: November 26, 2008.

The place: Mumbai, India.

The incident: At least 164 people died and hundreds injured as terrorists seized the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel in Mumbai and attacked several other places including the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi Trident Hotel and Leopold Café.

And exactly two years later, I am reflecting of the time I spent in the city afeter the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Exactly a year after, on November 26, 2009, I was in Mumbai; I was at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel. Life was as normal as it could be.

As I took a cab from Bandra, a suburb in Mumbai, to south Mumbai where I had scheduled an interview at the Taj, reminiscence of the fateful day, also referred to as 26/11, stood evident on the streets.

Billboards stood as history books as passersby took a chance to glance in the super-fast metropolis. The media was flooded with stories. At the Churchgate Station, booths were set up to remember one of the darkest days of Indian history.

A cafe behind the Taj pays tribute at the first anniversary of the attacks. Photo: Bibek Bhandari

It was in fact a day—and the days that followed—that brought the financial capital of India, the 24-hour city abuzz with 12 million people, to a standstill.

But a year later, life in this metro was moving in fast motion. Though people reflected on the dreadful day, they also had to move on and catch up with the city’s pace: it was everyday life in Mumbai.

It’s amazing to see how people move on, how life moves on despite the worst situations.

In Mumbai, I happened to realise this.

During my three months in the city, I stopped by all the places that had been attacked. I was at the Taj and Leopold Café at many instances; I was at the Oberoi and took the train from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus several times.

And every time I was there, it was amazing to experience the energy of Mumbai. Life had resumed at these sites of carnage. It was fast and bustling as ever. It was normal.  Mumbai had moved on.

But I don’t think moving on means forgetting. And I think Mumbaikars remember 26/11 is some way or the other, directly or indirectly, in moments of silence or memories of fear.

I salute the city and its people for retaining the energy despite the tragedy. For keeping it real.

Salaam Mumbai.

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