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

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Mumbai Update 3

The Guardian has published the following account of Harry's son and girlfriend's ordeal in Mumbai. It is incredibly harrowing reading and even worse than I thought.

For Will Pike and his girlfriend, Kelly Doyle, a night in the Taj Mahal hotel was meant to be a treat to round off a two-week holiday in India.

Instead it ended with Will, 28, lying in a Mumbai hospital intensive care bed, his back broken in an attempt to escape the bullets and choking smoke by climbing down an improvised rope made from bedsheets, curtains and hotel towels.

They had checked in at 6pm after arriving from Goa, ventured out to the Leopold café - later to become the first place in the city to be attacked - then returned to their room intending to go down to the bar. As they got ready, the sound of explosions echoed up from the lobby: the terrorists were bursting into the hotel, throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons.

For five hours, the couple, from Camden in north London, cowered in their room, listening to the sound of approaching gunshots while the terrorists roamed the corridors, apparently firing at their fellow hostages.

read on

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.