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Thanksgiving under siege

Today is the day that we are celebrating Thanksgiving in Mumbai. Before the events of the last two days, our schedule was such that the kids had a half day on Thursday and we were all off on Friday. Obviously many plans for the holiday have been scrapped (such as the full-blown Thanksgiving dinner – at $70 a plate – that was to take place at the Taj hotel). Teachers had several smaller events set up, including an all-apartment potluck here in Kiara that still took place, but pretty much anything that involves leaving one’s home has been called off.

Today’s news has been such a combination of pronouncements that are at odds with each other that there is no real way to know what is going on. We’ve heard alternately that first one, then the other hotel is cleared, and then see reports of new gunfights and explosions. As I write this in the early evening, we really don’t know the status of events, except that things are not cleared up.

One of the more ‘in your face’ reminders of what is going on are intermittent security warnings we receive via email from the US consulate. As the terrorist situation is still ongoing, what sometimes seem to be over-the-top paranoid pronouncements appear a little more grounded in reality. Excerpts from the alerts:

TERROR ATTACKS IN MUMBAI

Terrorists attacked two hotels, a railway station, restaurant, hospital, and other locations in Mumbai frequented by Westerners on November 26.  Over 100 persons are believed to have been killed, and hundreds injured.  Gunfire continues between terrorists and police at several locations in Mumbai.  Some of the casualties are foreigners, and Americans appear to have been among those specifically targeted.

Due to the fluid situation in Mumbai, Americans are urged to defer travel to Mumbai for at least the next 48-72 hours.  Those currently in Mumbai are asked to take shelter at their current location and contact family and friends. 

U.S. citizens should exercise caution and take prudent security measures, including maintaining a high level of vigilance, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, varying times and routes for all travel, and ensuring travel documents are current.

Americans are advised to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues.  If unattended packages are spotted, American citizens should immediately exit the area and report the packages to authorities.

We had a quiet morning, chatting a bit online and reading all the notes that family and friends have sent us. The outpouring of concern has been humbling, and on this day of thanks we are again reminded of just how blessed we are. While we are nervous about what’s going on, about the best that can be said is that we’re not scared. The kids are handling things well – happy to have an extra day off from school.

Our Thanksgiving celebration was doubly special, in that we were able to celebrate old and new friends with joy as well as somberly look at how recent events will continue to impact us for some time to come. We certainly ate well with flavors from all over the world: treats ranging from roasted chicken to candied yams to hot ‘n spicy burritos to fried bananas and cheese to ice cream on fig biscuits. Even though the ongoing situation did come up quite often, it was also fun to simply sit around and chat about things as silly as the multicolored poops that are currently descending from our fish (truly, that was a topic of conversation. Think I could just make something like that up?).

I just hope that news from the community is all pleasant when this is wrapped up: there are so many kids and families at our school who work at or are affiliated with the hotels affected, and word still is not back on everyone’s safety. In fact, the parents of one of the students I teach went out to dinner at the Oberoi hotel on Wednesday night and have not been heard from since.

Hug your families and count your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving from India.

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One Trackback

  1. […] We ate and drank to excess, and then finished off the evening with rousing games of Eye-to-Eye and The Game of Things, and the promise of an invite to Google Wave (which we’re still awaiting, BTW). All in all, a nearly 6 hour festival of gratitude (my “what are you thankful for” was that this year, unlike last, we were not celebrating the holiday under an umbrella of uncertainty and fear). […]

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