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Spirited Mumbai back to normal
George Iype and Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai |
August 26, 2003 21:03 IST
Mumbai returned to business on Tuesday, a day after two car-bombs killed 52 people and injured scores near the Gateway of India and Jhaveri Bazaar.
Foreign and domestic tourists returned to the Gateway and most of the shops in the financial district of Jhaveri Bazaar resumed trading.
Complete Coverage of the Mumbai Blasts
But the police forced the shops located at the blast site at Jhaveri Bazaar to remain shut and that specific locality was cordoned off as part of the security arrangement for the visit of Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi.
Throughout Tuesday at the Gateway, arguably Mumbai's most famous landmark, the police enforced tight security arrangements but tourists were undeterred and were seen strolling around the area.
Many domestic tourists came to see "the bomb blast spot", as the family of S K Pandya did. "We had come to Mumbai yesterday for a three-day trip from Ahmedabad. We have lots of relatives here and I had promised my children that I would take them out to the Gateway. But yesterday, the bomb blast spoiled it all," Pandya said.
So Pandya took his two children and wife to the Gateway on Tuesday morning. "At first we were not allowed in. But we could walk through the road in front of the Taj Mahal Hotel and I could show the Gateway to my kids," he said.
According to Pandya, bomb blasts are so regular now that people are not overly afraid. "We cannot sit at home saying that we fear going out to see places because of bomb blast threats."
A day later, it was as if the fear of the explosions had vanished across Mumbai. A number of foreign tourists who were seen walking along the road between the Taj Hotel and the Gateway condemned the blasts.
"It was a horrible tragedy. We were in the Taj Hotel when the blast occurred. We were terrified. But we are happy that Mumbai city has returned to normalcy so soon," said Carry Gracy, a charity worker from Scotland.
Gracy and her colleague Elizabeth Wells were in Goa for six weeks. They work in a Scotland-based charity organisation called Elshatgai. "We have a branch in Goa where we work for six weeks. Yesterday we came to Mumbai en route to Scotland," said Wells.
But Gracy and Wells, in their 20s, are yet to recover from the deafening blast sounds. "We rarely got out of the hotel yesterday. In fact we were planning to walk along the Gateway around noon yesterday when the blast occurred," Gracy said.
"It is for the first time that I have witnessed a bomb blast. I am not worried about coming back to India. Wherever you go across the world, terrorism is there. It is a global phenomenon. So we do not want to declare that India is a bad country to visit," Wells added.
American tourist Harry Dickson and his three children and wife were also in the Taj Hotel when the blast occurred. "The children were crying after the blast sound shocked them. But in the evening they were fine. Today morning, they said they wanted to see the Gateway closer. So I have taken them out today. We are not at all afraid. Bomb blasts do not happen everyday, anyway," Dickson said.
Jean-Francois, a tourist from France said he was lucky that he arrived four hours late in Mumbai. "I arrived yesterday morning from Goa. My train was four hours late. I was supposed to be here at the time of bombing but my train was late and therefore I avoided coming here. I think I was lucky," Francois said.
"This was my first trip to India. I am not scared now because bombing won't happen today after yesterday's incident. I am sure about that," the French tourist said.
Francois feels that bombings are now happening everywhere. "Life goes on. Life cannot stop because of some acts of terrorism. Even the USA was not safe. So, I won't say that India is not a safe country," he said.
"I went to Thiruvanthapuram, various places in Kerala and Goa. This country is beautiful. If I get a chance, I will come back again," added the tourist.
Pierre Rea, a tourist from Switzerland, said he arrived in Mumbai on Monday evening. "This is the first place I am coming because I have heard so many good things about Gateway of India and Victoria Railway station," he said.
"I am happy at least I got a chance to come nearby and see the monument even if I am not very near the place.
"I was shocked to know that bombing took place. This was a terrorist attack. I don't know whom to blame," added Pierre.
Asked if he is planning to pack his bags and go back to his native country, Pierre said, "Right now, I am on a tourist trip. I am going to Goa, Madras and many other places in the south. I am not scared for the moment because bomb blasts don't happen again and again. This act happens only once.
"I feel India is a safe country. One incident can't change things in these countries. Terrorism is happening everywhere," concluded Pierre.