Watching the 9/11 attacks in a hotel room was surreal – at first the visuals looked like shots from a disaster film and I appreciated the artistry of the stark grim picture of a plane flying straight into a building, the clouds of smoke and fire from the explosion against a deep cerulean sky and laughed to myself at the ingenuity of disaster films .
Just a little later I shifted channels and saw the same visuals being repeated ,I surfed some more channels , trying to understand what exactly was happening – so bizarre and unreal was the situation, until realisation dawned that it was real life , not a film .
There was a feeling of dejavu on 26/11 . A lit porch , glass doors with warm inviting lights and interiors within,interspersed with the crackle of gunfire and the madness .of people running around . Rapid visuals – of the railway station , a petrol pump belonging to my Company, bombs going off in cabs , a young South Asian man talking of a man walking out of Leopold’s café holding a machine gun casually , grenades being flung off the roof of Colaba market .
It had the makings of a third rate thriller with ambitious young men holding a country to ransom – a plot totally fantastical and illogical – the backdrop was pure Julius Caesar - Act I , to mind – dangerous and evil things walking in the dark , ominous rumblings hinting of a world gone so terribly wrong – a premonition of a disaster still nascent but throbbing with life.
The last 5 days, as it were , has been a jumble of frenetic images, near miss experiences of two friends , a loss suffered by a friend at the Taj Mahal Hotel .I was glued to the television set , watching the monstrous scenes unfold . I have been numb with fear and frozen with what I have seen .Images endure – thanks to the relentless reporting of the TV channels – images that will be hard to erase from memory . There is anger , too at the inept and callous government . which time and again shows how incapable and irresponsible it is and I am afraid does not care whether you say ENOUGH or not .
I also wondered about the terrorists – whose youth had provided fertile ground for ideals , however irrational and misguided they may be, to take root ; a system which has taken over the minds of men , so completely as to produce mass produced terror machines with just the one agenda - to destruct and also liquidate themselves in the process.
And the most enduring pictures are those of the armed young men at CST , hardly older than my daughter – one terrorist especially terrifying because the expression on his face is perky and happy as though he is enjoying himself – Through it all I have in the last 5 days also wondered how a handful of young men have held my country to ransom with a swaggering insolence which has entailed destruction, death , savagery beyond belief and there is a numb and frozen despair that this is a world we have brought our children into .