Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Of Mumbai blasts and narrow escapes

The Indian Express has been regularly carrying accounts of people who lost their lives in the recent Mumbai blasts. But what of our Mumbai-based colleagues who regularly travel by the local trains? Fortunately, not one of them was on the ill-fated trains. But it was a narrow escape for many. Here in their own words, our friends recount the evening of July 11, 2006.

Ashutosh Joshi
We were in the office on Terror Tuesday. I was supposed to attend an Air India press conference that evening. But I refused to do so. The person who went for it witnessed the blast at Mahim station. He was at the platform when the blast took place. Thankfully he did not suffer any injury.

Ambika Pendharkar
Was at home in Pune during the blasts. Sangeetha called me up when she heard the news on TV. We were desperately trying to locate a cousin in Mumbai who didn't reach home on time and could not be contacted on mobile. As for Zeeshan, he escaped death by a whisker. He had actually got down at one of the affected stations at 6.15 pm.

Kapil Kelkar
I was in the office and had just returned from the High Court. We first heard about the blasts when one of our clerks called from Mira Road station to tell us that there had been a explosion in the compartment next to the one he was travelling in. All the blasts happened on the route I use daily.

Shilpa Jamkhandikar
I was in office doing another mundane story when the blasts happened. Our Regional Manager Subimal Choudhary got a call from one of our staffers saying there was an "accident" in his train at Mira Road and he could see dead bodies everywhere. We decided to run a flash. Just as I was transmitting the story came another call from another staffer about another blast. After that it was mayhem. I don't remember much except stories, images on TV and numbness.

Abhijeet Kulkarni
I was having tea at the corner of my office. It is just a road away from the Mahim railway station. My colleague and I rushed there when we heard the blast.

Ashish Agashe
I was in the Delhi office then - looking at the ticker and the news channels as the number of dead (and the blasts) was shooting up. My mobile battery dried up due to unsuccessful attempts at reaching my dear ones back home in Mumbai.

Several months have passed since the fateful blasts. But life goes on for our colleagues and they continue travelling by the local trains. Ambika tells us that Zeeshan reported extensively on the recent Malegaon blasts and his work was much appreciated. In fact, he is now part of the HT bureau for Nashik and nearby areas.

As for Ambika herself, she gave up trains for good and switched to zipping around Pune streets in her brand new silver Honda Activa. To be honest, she did crash into an innocent schoolboy who wandered into her path but the kid escaped with minor bruises. Ambika stopped venturing out on the roads for a few days after the incident but it didn't deter her from driving. We are happy to report that the Maharashtrian lass and her Activa are now back on the streets of Pune.

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