‘We were playing a mindless game in The Office. It was the end of the day. I was juggling college with Office back then. Suddenly, my trainer got a call and his face hardened.
“There has been a bomb blast in Vile Parle.” He said before plunging into his phone again. Sometime later, his phone rang again. “There has been some shooting reported in The Taj Mahal Hotel. Some gangs decided to slug it out in the open it seems. The blast in Vile Parle was just a rumour, I guess.”
Then suddenly a girl from our team started throwing a fit. I thoroughly disliked her, let’s call her Ms.Loosepants for the time being. Apparently her brother was a member of the staff at The Taj Mahal hotel and for once, I did not find her to be attention grabbing. Everyone consoled her and said that it was just some gangsters slugging it out and not something serious. It had little effect on her. And soon news started trailing in that it was no gangwar at The Taj. Bombay was facing it’s first ever hostage situation. I still did not know what would the next 60 hrs have in store for me. I was just hoping to have a dekko at the news at home and resume reading Mohammad Hanif’s ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes.’
Soon, it was time to leave. It was only after I reached home that I realised the gravity of the situation. Of course, we were stopped thrice in the 20 minute drive from The Office to my house with Policemen pointing guns at us (That IS a scary experience!) and frisking everything, literally everything. I admit I was intimidated. I also did not fail to see the sheer number of makeshift bunkers that had come into place within two hours.
I had reached home at midnight. I remember watching the news until 5AM. I still remember the anguish that had set in when I saw the Taj on fire. I called Ms.Loosepants to check upon her brother. She said that her brother had called and had said he was fine and was hiding in the basement with some guests. I reassured her and asked her to go to sleep. I knew sleep would be hard to come by for the both of us. And to a lot of other people as well….
Yes. Bombay was under siege last year.. this hour of the day..