Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Mumbai update

Thanks to all readers who sent Harry their good wishes and thoughts, which he has read. The situation is as follows: his son and his son's girlfriend were on the final night of a two-week holiday in India. After a couple of weeks on the beach they decided to blow the budget on one night in a luxury hotel in Mumbai before flying out the following day. Unfortunately they chose the Taj Mahal.

After hearing gunshots in the hallway outside, they barricaded themselves in their room for seven hours until a fire on the floors above them and grenade in the next room compelled them to try to leave through a third floor window, using knotted bed linen. Unfortunately Harry's son fell and has multiple fractures. An operation on Thursday was successful but it will be a long road to recovery. Harry has now managed to get to Mumbai, arriving this morning.

On a personal level I am stunned at the minimal help offered by the Foreign Office, British Airways and his phone company (who had blocked calls to India and then said it would take 24 hours to unblock them). The practical support he has received has come through a network of friends who have been able to provide essential contacts in India, including doctors and Mumbai families.

12 comments:

Ms Baroque said...

This is a shocking story. How everything turns on a hair. Best wishes to Harry and his family and thank God for friends. xx

Wendy said...

I have never expected an embassy or an airline to offer any special assistance, however dire the circumstances. A network of good friends — and yourself — is all you can really count on. How utterly sad for Harry's son to have his holiday ruined by this final drama, but thank god he will recover.

Marian D said...

Best wishes to Harry, his son and his son's girlfriend and their families.

Linda - on a different but still difficult situation: Thailand. The Italian foreign ministry has published information for travellers trapped there by the airport blockade. It gives details of flights out of the country and a small allowance the Thai government is providing for people unable to get home. The information is intended for Italian nationals but may be useful for others. It's in English, at the following link:
http://www.esteri.it/MAE/EN/Stampa/Sala_Stampa/News/2008/11/20081128_InformazioniThailandia.htm

Marian D said...

PS to previous comment

Sorry, I've just seen the link doesn't show up. The information can be accessed from the foreign ministry's home page:
http://www.esteri.it/MAE/EN

Linda Grant said...

The BBC has been broadcasting a number at the Foreign Office to ring, which makes you assume that it will be staffed by people competent to help you. When Harry rang it, he was told to ring a number in Delhi, rang that, was told he had been given the wrong number, was given a number in Mumbai which he rang and no-one answered.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the son will enentually recover. It must have been a terrifying experience.
Why did the phone company block calls to India? An emergency is just when we need phones the most.

Wendy said...

A harrowing experience! But it is encouraging to hear that Harry's son will recover. The support of friends and family will be needed in the coming months as well.

lagatta à montréal said...

I'm relieved that in Harry's family's case, there are good prospects for a successful outcome. Alas that is not the case for so many other people, whether local residents, tourists, expats or business travellers.

The Foreign Office and Embassy should have been more helpful, or at least tried to.

Deja Pseu said...

That's a harrowing story, but I'm glad that ultimately they'll be OK. Shocking about the institutional lack of help, too, but also not entirely surprising.

Mardel said...

How horrible for Harry's son. To end a holiday on such a hopeful note and have it end in such a terrible experience. At least he will recover.

The lack of help in any official capacity is shocking but not surprising. In the end it seems we only have ourselves and our personal networks. Why shut down communications though? I would think that the phones would be more important than ever.

Best wishes to Harry and his son and girlfriend.

Gaby said...

I haven't visited here for awhile, and I'm horrified to read about Harry's son and girlfriend. Hopefully the recovery will be faster than expected for all of them, Harry included.

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