Friday, December 26, 2008

Mumbai Terrorism & India's Idea of Security

I am an American woman living and working in India. At the time of the attacks I was in Pathankot, about as close as you can get to Islamabad and still be on Indian soil. There is an Army base there. We had only just arrived by the 6+ hour toy train from Kangra after visiting with Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharmsala and Mcleodganj and had no idea what was going on in Mumbai.

Pathankot is about as far North as you can go in the Punjab, and just about everyone we saw were Sikhs. Traveling with two seniors, one requiring a wheelchair plus a teenager, I asked one of the higher ranking officers if there was a Sikh temple or a langpur nearby. He was surprised that I knew anything about his religion, so he asked me what we were doing in Pathankot. He asked about my family and our situation. He reviewed my work visa and residency permit and helped me find the right line to get us put on the next train to Delhi. He also suggested a decent restaurant with cold beer. :-) We had seen a few newspaper headlines, but no English newspapers were available at the station.

Delhi was on high alert, BUT! (BIG BUT!) as we were leaving the New Delhi train station, my mother noticed that the metal detector was made from regular PVC piping held together with duct tape, with an electrical plug taped to the bottom. It wasn't plugged in.

My son had noticed the same thing while hanging out at the malls in Gurgaon. There are metal detectors at the main entrances, but all the fire doors are left open all the way down into the car garages with no one attending them. Even the security guards at ATMS are armed, but my son noticed that the rifles aren't viable (there were no magazine clips for the bullets, and the rifle barrels were plugged). There's a big show to security, but no one is really minding the store.

When we got home, we turned on the TV and the news was all over the place about the Taj Hotel, Oberoi Trident and the rest of places under siege. I got emails from friends and family begging us to come home right away, but I also noticed that on December 10th, my son's previous high school in Aurora IL went under lockdown due to guns being found in the school. The previous day there was graffiti stating that a bomb go off on 12-10. So tell me... if there any place that is safe?

I think the human condition will always cause strife, in the name of god, in the name of freedom, for so many other baser reasons. Wars and Jihads are simply murder to the sound of trumpets. Live each day like it will be your last. Offer someone even less fortunate a bit of what you need. Show that random act of kindness seeking nothing in return. At least you will feel like you are doing something in making that small world in which you live a better place to be.


  1. thank you for this~
    so true....
    and i have to tell you that you look incredible! i almost didn't recognize you in your new photo!

  2. Thanks, Tracy. My girlfriend Yu Yu is a great photographer. :-)
    -- Jeanne