A year after Mumbai’s 9/11: Anatomy of a siege

Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. CC image courtesy of Mosilager on Flickr

Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. CC image courtesy of Mosilager on Flickr

Marie Brenner in Vanity Fair:

Mooers had no such illusions. She seemed to understand what was happening almost from the start. At 9:45 she placed a call to the concierge. “Is someone doing a demolition?” she asked.

“No, Ms. Mooers.”

“Well, then, you better call the Bombay police and security,” she said. “A bomb has gone off inside the hotel.”

There was no reaction from the concierge. “Do not worry, Ms. Mooers. It is wedding season. There are fireworks all through the city.”

“What I heard were not fireworks. I think there are terrorists in the hotel,” she told him.

“We will check on it,” the concierge said, his tone light and bright. A few moments later Mooers heard gunshots. It was becoming clear to everyone that the hotel was under attack. The operators—who would stay on duty until dawn—began to call guests: “Stay inside. Whatever you do, don’t open your door to anyone. There is a problem in the hotel.”

All that night and the next day, Mooers was on her phone. From her window she saw a man trapped in a burning room. Smoke came under her door. For 24 hours she was marooned in her suite. She thought, I am by the stairs. I might be saved.

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