I am watching television since close to 3 hours... Flipping from channel to channel to 'get the latest'. A terrorist attack is unfolding on screen - live. Just like that movie 'Wednesday'.
Except no one knows who is scripting this or when it will end.
But the reason I am especially drawn to the drama is that I was at not one, but two of the venues where firing took place. Just an hour before it started.
In fact I was at the Oberoi hotel - all day. This was for an event that IIM Ahmedabad Alumni had hosted - an interactive session with Prof Eric Von Hippel of MIT.
After a long day we wound up at the Oberoi and took Prof Hippel to another location nearby for an interview... Before finally saying our goodbyes at 840 pm.
Then, I headed to CST station. The fastest and most comfortable way to get to Vashi. There was a train standing there, and I considered making a run for it.
But I stopped to buy a bottle of water. Then a couple of magazines. I caught a train at 9.07 I think. Uneventful journey. Was home at 10.15.
Suddenly I get calls from a couple of people about whether I am 'ok'. That's when I switched on the TV and realised how lucky I am!
Unfortunately Prof Von Hippel is staying at the Oberoi and we have been unable to reach him. He does not have a local mobile.
I notice that the building which is ablaze on TV is the Trident section of the Oberoi (the tall building) while he is checked in at the Oberoi (the short building). But they are inter-connected. And he is an American national... So it IS cause for concern! We can only PRAY.
UPDATE @8 am, Nov 27: Prof Von Hippel has been located and is safe.
As I stroke my sleeping daughter's head, I think anyone, anywhere can be caught in this crossfire. Yes, today, it could have been my turn... Had the event stretched on. Had I hung around for dinner. What's one hour this way or that, in a city like Mumbai?
But as they say, God had other plans.
I must add that for some reason, when I walked into the Trident today, I had a passing thought about the security. There was none. Not even the frisking you see at shopping malls.
Yes, they have something you walk through but it was all very casual. And as I stood in that beautiful lobby with its giant glass windows with that breathtaking view of the Arabian sea, I thought,"This is what I love about Mumbai."
Yes there is real poverty outside. And the rich may be feeling poorer as well. But there are some places which are immune to it all. Like this one.
But no more...
As I type this there is news that that Hemant Karkare, chief of ATS (Anti Terrorist Squad) has been KILLED.
The world is not making sense! Going to sleep now but looks like this nightmare will continue...