It was a hideous time. Back in Delhi after years, we were having our first dinner party. It was Thanksgiving and some of my dearest, oldest friends were invited. Over in Mumbai, gunmen had overrun the Taj Palace, Oberoi Trident, a cafe, a train station and a Jewish centre.
A friend, Sabina Sehgal Saikia, was staying at the Taj. Some of our guests had been in contact with her – till the contact stopped. Everyone was worried. But for a brief moment, we tried desperately to believe Sabina would, as always, storm her way through everything. That’s the sort of person she was.
It was not to be.
The siege lasted three days. Adrian Levy, in his new book, ‘The Siege’, has said the Indian authorities have not learned the lessons of that dreadful time, unlike the “systemic changes” to security operations after 9/11 and the July 2005 bombings in London.
Five years on, Thanksgiving is marked by the pall of 2008.