Saturday, September 13, 2008

Attacks in Delhi

Between 18:07 and 18:38 yesterday evening, five bombs were detonated across Delhi. The last two explosions happened at M-Block Market in GK-1, just a few hundred meters from where I live. I was at home at the time, playing music and getting ready to go to Danielle’s for dinner. Manuel and I didn’t hear anything. We didn’t know anything. It was only when we got in the car fifteen minutes later and my driver got a call from his son that the first details started coming in. All he knew was that there was a bomb at Connaught Place and one in GK M-Block. It actually seemed absurd. I was sure he had some wrong information. There are 2 GKs, and each have an M-Block Market. He must have been talking about GK-2, which is close but not within walking distance like GK-1.

We live on a quiet street, bookended by one very busy street and another street that gets somewhat busy during rush-hour but nothing to really comment about. As soon as we hit the smaller of the two streets, it was obvious something had happened. For the first time in 3 months, traffic was jammed. On the way to Danielle’s, I tried to get some news, some details. I phoned Ankit who works for a TV station but couldn’t get through. Finally we got to Danielle’s. She didn’t know anything of it at all, so we turned on the local news and suddenly everything changes. Manuel was planning on going to Connaught Place to do a bit of shopping. He was planning on going to Palika Bazaar after the movie in Saket, but for some reason came home instead. Had he gone, he would have arrived just a few minutes before the bombs went off. He would have been there.

I am not going to pretend to be directly affected by the bombs. Too many people are dead and injured. As far as I know now, I have no friends among them. Had it not been for my driver or the messages I received asking if I was ok, I still would not know. I was planning on going to M-Block Market today. It’s our weekend market. It’s one of the places we go. I am typing this with the news in the background. Images from my neighborhood. This is the closest I have ever been.

Last night Anjali cancelled out on dinner to stay home. If I had known what was happening, I am not sure I would left the house. Danielle lives in what is probably the most secure part of the city, but it is 30 minutes between her place and ours. The restaurant which would have been normally crowded and turning people away had at most 4 tables of people eating. Everyone taking and making calls whenever we could get a line out. Text messages checking if everyone is ok. Promises to phone or text when we all reach home safe. Calling home to make sure our parents don’t worry when it finally hits the local news in Europe and the US. Just as we got to the restaurant we heard that some markets were being closed, markets and restaurants evacuated. Our conversation kept drifting back to what was happening in our city.

This morning on the news I heard that India is only behind Iraq and Afghanistan in the number of terror attacks. For me, one of the scariest times of these attacks is not knowing when it will end. Yes, five bombs went off and several more were diffused. Not knowing if that is it or just the start of something much bigger is what I find the most difficult. Everything becomes suspect. A car on the side of the road. A person putting something in a trash bin. The saddlebags on a bicycle. That’s what was used yesterday. Trash bins and bicycles.

No bombs have gone off since yesterday evening. The city and country are on high alert. Hopefully it is over for now, but we know that another is on the way. It is just a question of when and where…

2 comments:

  1. I can't claim to know how you specifically feel, but having lived in The Basque Country and having been a direct witness to fatal violence (also having missed being killed by a matter or minutes or even seconds), I can at least relate. The scary thing is that after the initial shock, your psyche starts to integrate it and it becomes almost normal. Even while it remains morally outrageous. But I guess that's how we survive. Manuel might know something about this too.

    Strength, peace and safety to you and Manuel.

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  2. Hey Robb, heard the news, thought of you guys in Delhi... Hope you are better now. I can only guess how hard it might be to live with the thought!
    Take good care, A.

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