25 October, 2020

The Bom Bahia Siege

The worst part about public catastrophe is the personal wound...

The Bom Bahia Siege
The morning after a night of televised terror began with a triviality. The first thought that seized me when I switched on the TV at 11 am was that the Taj Mahal Hotel was still standing. When I went to bed at 6 am, the blaze was approaching the Saracenic Gothic dome. I bid goodbye to a beloved icon of my city, a part of my identity in Mumbai. The worst part about public catastrophe is the personal wound.

I write before the last ball is bowled in this ghastly one-nighter. But enough has happened. Over a hundred killed and three times that number wounded.

The Taj has filaments of nostalgia for many of us. It’s where the greats of the world lived since 1903—kings and presidents, Nobel winners, writers and thinkers. For me, it’s where Teddy Weatherford, the great jazz pianist, played at the Harbour Bar in the mid-to-late 1930s and where my parents foxtrotted at the weekly tea dances. In the wave of remembrance sweeping over, there are some stony questions. Why us? Who are these attackers and what do they want? What does this mean...



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