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Monday, 15 December 2008

The Agony Continues After the Harrowing 62-Hour Ordeal

By Ravi Chawla of Seniors World Chronicle

R060708 I had retired early for the day. It had been an enlightening, inspiring and satisfying time with the 15-member Mumbai-based management team of India's pioneering aging sector NGO, the Dignity Foundation. That was on

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I was shaken out of two hours of deep slumber by the incessant telephone ring. The call was from Los Angeles: Ravi, get out of bed quick and switch on your TV. CNN says Mumbai has been hit by a major terrorist attack.

What followed was 62 hours of horrifying happenings just two miles south of where I had lived in suburban Mumbai for over 25 years. It has put me out of action for 10 days. And even today, when newspapers, radio and television are all blaring out about the brave hearts of Mumbai, about the resilience of the Mumbaikars who always bounce back, my eyes fall on the sullen faces of the idle street-corner, vegetable vendor and the blank looks of the aging man behind the box office window at the neighbourhood cinema house.

Millions who commute to work every day are back on the local trains, I guess because they have no option but to work for a living. But the office canteen is quiet, few have something to tell each other. Few footfalls at shopping malls, fewer at the savings bank counters.

For seven days now, the sprightly 82-year-old neighbour has not stepped out of his home. My wife doesn't want to be left alone, he explains. He, too, was woken up in the middle of the night on November 26, by a frantic call from his son in Philadelphia. The agony continues.

Like many others, this couple remain deeply affected by what we lived through here in Mumbai. Thousands of our city police constables are in need of counseling like the multitude of media men and women who will take long to recover. It has not only shaken us, many like your own editor, are scared. Scared that mankind is degenerating, afraid that even the most positive-thinking among us - and I have always counted myself among them - ask where this will take us.

Never ever in my eventful 72 years have I been so sick as these past few days. Except perhaps during three days in the late Sixties following my visit to Auschwitz.

Moshe Holtzberg with this grandfather after the attack that killed his grandparents AP The world has seen it all on television, on YouTube and in visuals spread across millions of magazine pages. There is one visual that is stuck in my memory: that of two-year-old Moshe Holzberg in the arms of his aging grandfather after his Orthodox Jewish parents had been killed by the terrorists who hit Mumbai.

A quiet prayer, please, so that peace be with those who continue to suffer.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:35 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Ravi, thank you very much for writing this story for us. It must have been such a terrifying time for all concerned. I would be very interested to know how you and your family and neighbours find the means to recover from the trauma. Please do know that you are in your thoughts and prayers.

Ravi - Thanks for sharing this with us.

When Mother Nature destroys and kills through hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes, we experience horror and helplessness. But there is something even more chilling when we humans do it to each other.

Our prayers are with you.

What can be in the human psyche that allows such unthinkable acts to be committed? Some way must be found to turn people away from violence. I grieve for that child and the people of Mumbai. And for us all.


Thank you for writing your story...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your fellow countrymen.

Please write again and let us know how you are doing. We will be waiting to hear from you.

Some time, not much, has passed. This is just to say...
Not Forgotten.

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