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'The staff blocked the entrance with a grand piano'

December 26, 2008

Did you know how to get back to the hotel?

Because I had gone to the market during the day, I was able to familiarise myself with the streets. In the moment of absolute panic I hoped to God that I was running the right way. When we reached the Taj, people were standing outside wondering what the noise that they heard was.

We walked into the Taj lobby with blood on hands and clothes. And John's leg hurt. But we really didn't feel the pain, because the adrenaline in our bodies was so high. The hotel staff sat us down in the lobby and one man brought a first aid kit. Just when he was cleaning us up, the same shots started ringing through the lobby.

I didn't see the terrorists, but I spoke to a British parliamentarian later who was standing in the lobby when he saw these men dressed in black with guns and all the people around him dropped to the floor, while he started running.

So where did you go then?

With the two guys from the hotel and John, I remember looking for a door to run through. We ran into The Zodiac Grill. People were dining and I did not even care. We ran straight to the kitchen. I kind of felt awkward interrupting their dinner.

In the kitchen there a Muslim woman, a guest who just took her scarf off and knelt down to pray. So John and I sat next to her, closed our eyes and put our heads together and started repeating the Lord's Prayer. I felt this amazing sense of unity.

Some 15 minutes later we were brought into the restaurant. The restaurant staff had blocked the entrance to the restaurant with a grand piano.

The table I hid under had rose petals that said 25 and there was champagne that no one had drunk yet. We were there for eight hours in the restaurant. All the while we could hear the gun shots and grenades exploding.

What were your thoughts all this while?

The whole time I thought I was going to die. But you have all the people around you saying it's OK. But I kept thinking this could not be OK. John kept telling me not to be negative. We were whispering and everybody was concerned that the terrorist would find us.

I hid under a couch. That was the only place I felt safe. But the whole time we kept hearing the fire. If you can picture what a burning forest sounds like.

Image: Cafe Leopold, which reopened on December 1, after the attacks and since last week, began placing an Indian flag and a rose at each table as an offering of peace and a sign of patriotism. Photograph: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters.

Also see: 'We want to celebrate what's right in India'
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