I haven’t written anything about the Mumbai terror because I didn’t know what I had to add and I couldn’t grasp the 60 hours of horror there. I did write about Twitter and witnesses taking over news and — though I wish we wouldn’t make 9/11 the touchstone for all terrorist crimes henceforcth — I could not help recalling my 9/11:
Ever since I survived the 9/11 attacks, and later saw the coverage the world saw – smoke spied from rooftops miles away – I have made sure to always have a camera with me, as the view of the story from the ground was so different from that seen on TV. Now I carry a mobile phone that can capture and broadcast text, photos and video immediately. If I’d had that then, the image I would have shared would have been the image I most remember – not of smoke and helicopters, but instead of black tear-tracks on the face of an African-American woman covered in the grey dust of destruction. Such will be our new view of news: urgent, live, direct, emotional, personal.
And then I read this column in the Times of India and realized that I had perpetuated the same mistake: I was seeing Mumbai’s tragedy from many miles away, rooftop and satellite high. Bachi Karkaria writes about the tragedy from eye level and it is all too personal: the story of a wedding party brought to an end by phone calls with news of the tragedy as one guest decided to go back to her hotel — to the Taj.
“I hadn’t known till then that she was in the heritage suite which we had seen aflame all day,” the columnist wrote. “We pleaded for a miracle, for hope had turned out to be a perfidious ally…. I had brought Sabina to this situation, and I alone was responsible.”
That is how terror is suffered, a tragedy at a time.