We didn't turn the TV on until late last night, so it came as a shock to hear of the terrorist activity in Mumbai. Having stayed in the Taj hotel so recently, the accounts of events gave both of us shivers as we pictured the bustling foyer, the lively bars and restaurants, the bright and well stocked shops which attracted tourists and locals alike. We recalled a wonderful afternoon, spent drinking tea in the afternoon heat but in the shade of a cool verandah in a quiet garden, imagining it to be anything but quiet today.
Most of my thoughts turned to the delightful people. I wonder how the charming young reception clerks are, what's happened to the three amazing concierges who somehow remembered not only everyone's name but even knew which was our luggage in the melee that is so typically Indian.
I pictured the scene in the ground floor restaurant, where we enjoyed a delicious "Bombay Tiffin"one evening. The dark furnishings and subdued lighting created a wonderful atmosphere and we received first class service from the many young waiters who were anxious to ensure everything was to our liking.
I wonder what's happened to the Joy shoe shop on the ground floor at the front of the hotel, with the funny little details and the dozen or so young men who brought out almost every twinkly shoe in their store so willingly for picky women like me.
But most of all, I thought of the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Mumbai residents, passing through the station, along the street or in the cinema, going about their ordinary, everyday business and caught up in such terrible events.
Where is the man who runs the tiny office supplies store on the road by the station, who fulfilled my wish for glue sticks and paper punch (How many holes, madam? What size hole, Madam?) Hard to imagine that a one-man operated cupboard of a shop could offer more of a selection of goods than the large, flashy store here. Incomparable service, too.
Mumbai is such an amazing city, full of life and colour. There must be so many people like us, with fond memories and family links to the city who are watching the events unfold with sadness this morning. Packing a suitcase to go off on another trip, we question whether it would be preferable to stay at home. Any doubts are soon dismissed when experiences such as being in Mumbai for a couple of days are recalled, though.
It's such a privilege to travel, to see and experience far away places but most of all, to meet people and learn a little about their lives. I find my thoughts keep returning to the people in Mumbai this morning.