While covering the terrorist atrocities in Mumbai last year, I found myself racing from the Leopold Cafe to the Taj and to the Nariman Bldg; shooting pics, updating my twitter feed and simultaneously keeping an ear on what the locals were telling me. Everything happened so fast, there was not much time to think ~ just do! I shared with you all many pics of events as they unfolded. Now on this one-year anniversary, I want to share a few more pics from those horrific three days last year.
At the top level TAB here: Mumbai Blasts, you can find links to all my previous articles, photographs and related press coverage.
Thursday am: This was from the first morning when Mumbai woke up to the terrorist acts which started the previous night. Early that morning as I got out of the house to go for my run I encountered scores of assault weapons toting commandos outside our bldg, a block behind the Taj. I scampered back, got my camera and ran to the Terrace, from where I took many of these pics.
Part of the Taj is smoldering from the fires the previous night – but all the domes are still intact.
Crows scooping around the smoldering embers created an eerie feel of the evil perpetrated by vile humans inside.
After a couple of hours of pacing at home, I h
Outside the Leopold Cafe, this was one of the saddest pics I took that day. There were many pools of blood there on the sidewalk and streets, but this sight of the serving tray, just hurt. Apparently, the terrorists had stood by the front doors of the Leopold Cafe and fired inside. some of the patrons and this waiter dashed out the side door on Nowroji St. But the terrorists had walked out on the side street heading towards the back door of the Taj. As they walked/run, they sprayed either side of the road with bullets and this waiter was killed still clutching his serving tray.
Here is a pic of the street corner where the Leopold Cafe is shuttered. Onlookers are looking down Nowroji st towards the Taj.
Steps from here, one of my friends was also shot. His family own several small storefronts right there. his father and all rushed inside their Pharmacy store, he rushed out and pulled down the metal shutter of the shop. But himself caught 5-6 bullets and died outside. BUt he essentially saved his father, other brothers and cousins who had rushed inside.
Notice the chalk marked circle on the sidewalk on the right. That was where the terrorists has dropped off a back-pack bomb. Thank fully it did not explode and the police retireved it and defused it. That store there, is actually a muslim owned and run barber shop where I got my haircut just the day before.
The pathetic attempt to cordon off the street in front of the Leopold leading to the Taj!
Thursday pm: I was surprised I was able to get so close to the Taj and the Firemen there.
Thursday night: This series of pics of the burning dome of the Taj were the most gut wrenching pics I have ever taken. Then I just stayed on the terrace, starring unbelievably at this bonfire in front of my eyes, tears streaming down my face. Here I was in an eerily quiet neighborhood, while this bonfire lit the skies; everyone around me appeared to be sound asleep, deep in their dreams, while just a few feet away, lives were ended most cruelly. I wondered then if this jewel of Mumbai will last the night.
In this pic the dome is burning, and this huge plume of smoke rising to the skies seem to carry with it the souls of the innocent who lost their lives there.
Friday am: As soon as my eyes opened the next morning, I dashed back to the terrace. I sighed – the Taj was still there. You cannot imagine, psychologically, this was such a powerful and relieving image for me. The Taj Stands!
The silhouette of the Taj with the burning embers of the dome still aglow. Yes, the terrorists hurt us, but they will never destroy us. Terrorists will never win! We are bigger and stronger than that.
Friday am: A closeup of the burn’t out dome of the Taj! (I had just realized I had a zoom lens in my bag)
In the midst of all the posting, I received replies on my twitter feed that I should withhold ‘reporting’ information which could help the terrorists. I could understand the concerns and did not share the following set of pics till a few hours after it transpired. Of course the terrorists inside the Nariman Bldg could hear the helicopters buzzing over their bldg, but there was no reason to alert their co-conspirators who ‘were’ monitoring media channels.
Helicopter carrying commandos approaching the Nariman Bldg –
They hovered over the Nariman Bldg and the commandos rappelled down on the terrace.
Here’s the second commando – I think these were called the Black Cats from the nearby naval base.
And the third,
and the fourth
The helicopter then lifted off …
and flew back to ferry more commandos. I think they did 3-4 trips.
I was in awe of the beautiful helicopters buzzing so close over my head! With the deafening roar, I felt a part of the commandos effort to wipe out the terrorists at the Nariman Bldg and I prayed that they succeed quickly.
Will add a few more later in the day. So, please stop by and browse later in the day.