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The day after, a semblance of normalcy

November 29, 2008 20:22 IST

Despite being cleared on Friday, it was impossible to get close to the Oberoi Hotel on Saturday evening. The cops who could not keep the militants out of this hotel were successful in keeping the crowds away from it now.

Television cameras and broadcasting vans were still present on the promenade. A passing boat came very close to Nariman Point but everyone ignored it. Surprising as the initial attack had come this way.

Passerby and onlookers were clicking photographs of the Oberoi. There was nothing to show the dastardly attack the previous two days, but they clicked merrily. After the Oberoi the other points of interest were TV reporters, particularly the foreign correspondents.

At Nariman House, it was exactly the opposite. Here there was no security on the roads or streets leading to the building. It was free for all and people were walking all around it. Thankfully nobody went in, fearful of unexploded ammunition, we presume.

A local was shouting at the TV cameramen assembled there. "How come you are always showing ruling party MLAs and ministers visiting the terror spots? Show us the opposition too! We are the ones who helped the cops keep the crowds away and thus helped them finish their jobs. We have been standing on the road for two whole days without sleep and you are not interviewing us."

Another was putting forth his views to the same TV crew. "Why are ministers and VIPs only visiting the Taj? Not one VIP has come here. They don't care for the poor." There was no mention of the Rabbi and his wife who were killed there.

At the Taj too there was a heavy police presence. The old Taj showed visible damage and a lot of blackened area where fires had scarred the more than 100-year-old stone facade.

Unlike at the Oberoi here you could see a lot of activity at the entrance. Some TV channels were being let in to film exclusive footage of the destruction inside.

A man was pulling his wife through the crowd towards the restraining rope that was tied to keep the crowd out. Once he reached the front of the crowd, he told her, "This is where it all happened."

A youth exclaimed: "I have seen all three terror spots today." His friend smirked, "What? You saw only three, I have seen all the nine spots this evening." When asked what the nine spots were, he rattled off the names, "Leopold café, Taj, Nariman house, Oberoi, VT station, Cama Hospital, Metro cinema, Mazegaon bridge and Vile Parle."

Nine spots where hundreds of people had perished in the past 48 hours had become places for curious onlookers to gawk at.

The taxi driver that took us back to office remarked, "Two days there was no traffic on the streets, today the crowds are back.

A Ganesh Nadar