Mumbai Follow-Up

It’s been three weeks since we left Mumbai. There has been a lot to process since then.

We have had many people ask us questions about the event, so we decided to answer them here on the blog.

The Taj Mahal Hotel shortly after the terror attack

How are you both doing now?

If you had asked us this immediately following the attack, our answer would have been that we were both fine, but that answer wouldn’t have been totally true.

On our first day out in the streets of Mumbai after the siege, a truck drove over a loose manhole cover making an extremely loud banging sound. Thomas and I found ourselves dropping to the ground out of reflex. We laughed in embarrassment as we both stood back up straight, but the implications of our reaction were rather disturbing. Such gut-level reflex responses to loud sounds are still happening, although less frequently. The Indian habit of setting off firecrackers, which sound a lot like machine gun fire, is seriously not helping us.

Bullet Holes

Mumbai resident tensely watching the Taj Mahal Hotel

For several days after the attack, we caught ourselves walking up against buildings under ledges. We felt very vulnerable being out in the open. In addition, when we entered buildings, we both subconsciously started mapping out escape routes. Clearly, vulnerability was a common emotion. Even after McDonald’s reopened in Colaba, every table visible from the street below remained deserted.

It took days for us to really process the fact that mass murders had occurred on both sides of our hotel. As news coverage shifted to descriptions of how hotel guests had been lined up and shot, we realized that some of the machine gun fire we had heard had been executions. The realization of how many people had been killed was overwhelming and the randomness of their deaths left us questioning “what if?”

What if we had decided to stop for a drink in Leopold’s Cafe? We had just been in there the night before. Instead, we walked along the water front to the Taj Mahal Hotel. We thought about going in, but decided we should put on some nicer clothes. What would have happened if we had gone in? What if we had gone to the pharmacy an hour or two later? We were in there before the attack looking for sunblock; the pharmacist we were talking to was shot and killed. Thomas was supposed to pick up our laundry at 10 PM on the night of the attack, but he was too lazy to walk over there so late. The laundry guy was shot in the arm.

During Mumbai Attack

Indian response team outside our hotel

It was quite unsettling, the feeling that we had randomly walked through all these locations, but, somehow, chance had saved us. It left us second guessing absolutely everything we did.

The weirdest thing is that both of us felt the need to stay in Mumbai. Neither one of us wanted to leave immediately. We walked through the streets and stared at the locations. Other dazed tourists and locals wandered around contemplating the attack. As the area opened up, masses of curious Indian and foreign disaster tourists began to gather around the attack scenes photographing nothing with their digital cameras and cellphones. Colaba was hemorrhaging reporters pumped up on adrenaline, rushing around writing about what had already finished. The whole scene was very surreal.

I think the decision to stay in Mumbai for a few extra days was a good one. Watching the city return to normalcy helped us clear our minds and regain a sense of normalcy ourselves. I wonder if all the tourists who fled the city immediately might not end up more traumatized than those who experienced the whole process beginning to end.

Victoria Terminus Mumbai

Victoria Terminus Railway Station

Would you go back to Mumbai?

Absolutely. Mumbai is a beautiful colonial-era city which lives up to the image far better than Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Singapore. You expect to see Rudyard Kipling walking down the street. Or, perhaps, Agatha Christie penning her latest mystery in a shady cafe. The colonial core is enormous, and the monumental Raj-era architecture make the city exceptionally unique. If that’s not enough, the waterfront drive lined with art-deco architecture will win you over.

Moreover, Mumbai is incredibly dynamic. It’s New York and Hollywood rolled into one. The city is glamorous and trendy, while retaining a sense of authenticity. That’s not easy.

It’s really the only city I’ve seen in India where I could actually imagine myself living.

Why did we stay in our hotel so long? Wouldn’t it have been better to move?

We’ve had this question repeatedly. I thought that I had explained this in the posting, but now that I look back it really wasn’t so clear.

Thomas and I were running low on cash when the attacks started. For some odd reason, the authorities shut down the ATMs in Colaba, so we couldn’t get enough cash to pay our hotel bill or hire a car to drive us out of the city.

We contemplated packing up and simply walking out of the hotel without paying, but we knew that if we did that, they wouldn’t let us back in. With rumors circulating that hotels were turning away foreigners, we were afraid to be stuck on the street unable to leave the city.

View from Carlton Hotel

View from the Carlton Hotel down the blocked-off road toward Leopold’s Cafe

Do you feel safe in India? Are you going to stay?

There is definite tension here after the attacks, and I can’t say that we feel 100 percent safe. India is experiencing the post attack confusion and well-founded paranoia that America experienced after 9/11. It is often difficult to separate solid information from rumor. With India and Pakistan at each other’s throats, the situation is unclear.

So for this reason, we are taking it day by day. In the second week of January, we will be flying to Sri Lanka for a month. This was planned into our schedule to allow us to get another Indian visa, but we will keep an eye on what’s going on and decide later whether or not to come back.

From your perspective, was the Indian response to the attack adequate?

No, it wasn’t. Not at all.

To hear more on this, view Tony’s interview with Fox News New York below:

If you have not done so, please read the original posting Attack in Mumbai.

19 responses to “Mumbai Follow-Up”

  1. [..YouTube..] You are right, they knew it, they planned it …an INSIDE JOB!!! to achieve various INDIAN/ZIONIST objectives but they FAILED miserably.

  2. avatar loverofdeen says:

    [..YouTube..] What do you mean “they failed miserably?”

  3. avatar carrieannmarco says:

    The world needs more videos with Tony! Listen to Tony!!! I cheer for Tony when he speaks.
    Thank you for the reflection after the whole ordeal. So many of us who love you were absolutely jolted knowing you two were there. I had tears pouring from my eyes watching CNN knowing you were in that. I needed to hear how you are healing.
    As always, much love to you both and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Hope to see you soon…maybe in Thailand or Vietnam??? ;D

  4. [..YouTube..] The Indian/Zionist media tried their best to equate the attacks in Mumbai with 9/11 in the US, with the aim of attacking Pakistan militarily. The Indian Air Force did violate the Pakistani airspace but got surprised when they were chased by Pakistani Air Force. When I say “they FAILED miserably” is cuz they couldn’t produce any conclusive evidence of Pakistani government involvement and the whole thing is working in favour of the American government who hate the pro-British congress.

  5. avatar greeneyes says:

    I am so thankful the two of you are ok and healing from this tragic event.

    It is only human to react from certain sounds after experiencing something like this.

    Take Good Care Guys,

  6. avatar Beverly says:

    Great impassioned interview, especially the call for action at the end. I hope many people view it. I nominated you guys for best Lonely Planet Travel Blog.

  7. avatar thugix says:

    [..YouTube..] no talking with terrorist pakistan until they stop using terrorism

  8. avatar USAsucks100 says:

    [..YouTube..] Yeah Indian fucks, stop Killing Muslims, or more attacks will happen. like these

  9. [..YouTube..] It seems like you didn’t get the idea. Maybe you should watch the video again.

  10. avatar abingdonboy says:

    [..YouTube..] wot does this guy know, is he a security expert? there were no armed guards inside the taj because before thid they didn’t need any, does ha have any idea of the challenges faced by the NSG and MARCOS? many special forces laid down their lives to say tourists like him. and what does he know about the issues between india and pakistan, NOTHING, how dare critise and give advice, i think that the government and intelligence forces know what their doing. what a TWAT

  11. [..YouTube..] What do I know? (Part 1)

    I watched the gunmen shooting people down while Indian police armed with sticks ran in the other direction.

    I know that the back entrance to the Taj was unguarded for more than 6 hours because I was looking at it from my window.

    I know that the Indian authorities were telling us that the battle was almost over every fifteen minutes for four and a half days.

  12. [..YouTube..] What do I know? (Part 2)

    I know there were warnings about an attack on Mumbai for weeks before the attack, yet, the Taj stopped security checks just shortly before.

    I know that just before that video was shot, two Indians walked up to us and said, “Hello, terrorists!” and started laughing – thus my anger in the video.

    And I know the people standing around me and listening to me talk to the press were largely nodding in agreement. Why? Because they experienced the attacks first hand as well.

  13. avatar pravicpu says:

    [..YouTube..] I have seen Muslims in India loyal to Pakistan than to India. You can see this more evident when there is a cricket match between India and Pakistan. They support just because they have same religion. You can see this in UK, soon in US and Canada. If you go any city in India you can see a congested Muslim area where all the illegal activities happen. This is the truth many know but don’t want say to keep their secular image. All riots happened in Kashmir or Gujarat are instigated by these mobs.

  14. avatar pravicpu says:

    [..YouTube..] @IslamicArmyKashmir India is not Pakistan. We don’t attack any country without the consent of its people and government and the strong opposition. There is a difference. Try to learn from the difference

  15. avatar aftabkhan812 says:

    [..YouTube..] @pravicpu u dumb fuck.., its because of ppl like u that muslims all around the world are scrutinised so closely all the time.. iDle minds like urs always want to come up with such shitty stuff.. give it a break man .., get a life.. n while watching a fucking match.., concentrate on the match rather than seeing who is supporting whom coz if u thinking of stuff like this.., then u clearly dont know what sprotsmanship is .. get a fuckn life dude …

  16. avatar pravicpu says:

    [..YouTube..] @aftabkhan812 don’t teach me the sportsmanship. Say something relevant than turning the topic by commenting on my sportsmanship. Truth is always bitter, don’t act like a fool by knowing the facts. My sportsmanship never stops me from pointing wrong moves on society. Being silent is coward and irresponsible act than voicing against such malpractices. Show the decency to accept the wrong. Or else muslims will never get face lift. don’t blame others or question their attitude for your deeds.

  17. avatar aftabkhan812 says:

    [..YouTube..] @pravicpu your problem is you dont have a valid point which is why you paying attention to all the smaller comments of what i thought would push some sense into you … No use in wasting time with senseless people like you …

  18. avatar pravicpu says:

    [..YouTube..] @aftabkhan812 OK you think u are the only sensible and smart person on the planet. lol. read my reply again, it is a reply to ur smaller comments.

  19. avatar aftabkhan812 says:

    [..YouTube..] @pravicpu anyday smarter than u my friend .. get a life !! 😀

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