Nov 30, 2008

Timeline of the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks


Taj Mahal Hotel condition after The attacks

The famed Harbour Bar at the Taj was the first licensed bar in Mumbai and a favourite watering hole of the city, is charred beyond recognition. Nothing’s left of the hotel’s Japanese restaurant Wasabi either. The 1st and 6th floors are badly gutted, the 4th and 5th partially burnt.

1. THE LOBBY: This section of the 105-year-old building was lined with artifacts and antiques is not badly damaged. Unlike some of the other sections, no explosions or fires occurred here. There are few bullets lodged in the walls. 

2. SHAMIANA: The all-day dining restaurant’s flooring was wrecked by grenade blasts, which left a huge hole. Glass pieces and bags lay scattered all over the floor on Saturday night. The section overlooking the poolside is in a mess. 

3. HARBOUR BAR: Facing the Colaba seafront on the ground floor was India’s first licensed bar. Reputed for its rare selection of whiskey, cognacs and Cuban cigars, the Harbour bar has been badly damaged in the attack. 

4. WASABI: Japanese restaurant Wasabi is located in the old wing on a level above the ground floor has been gutted. Featured in the prestigious Conde-Nast Traveller List of eateries, the restaurant was known for its sakes and sushi bar. 

5. SECOND, THIRD FLOORS: The status of these floors is relatively okay. 

6. FOURTH, FIFTH FLOORS: These floors are partially burned and have minor smoke damage.

7. SIXTH FLOOR: The headquarters of the terrorists is completely charred. The woodwork is smashed. All sea-facing rooms including the presidential suites — which have hosted heads of state — are in a shambles. Valuable paintings, period furniture and hand-woven silk carpets are believed to have been destroyed. 

8. SIXTH FLOOR OCCUPANTS: The terrorists had two rooms on the sixth floor; so did the general manager’s family which perished in the fire. 

9. DOME: One of the domes with Moorish and Oriental influence has been damaged in the fire. 

10. TERRORISTS ENTRY: Two entered from the poolside at the rear; two others came in from the side entrance. They had already penetrated the hotel via Housekeeping, the only service to be outsourced. They had an intimate knowledge of the layout, the back entrances, the storage
rooms. They also knew of the passage between the old and the new wings, from the banqueting section. Old kitchen staff use this passage. 

11. TERRORISTS: One was found dead in the Harbour Bar and one on the staircase between Harbour Bar and Wasabi. 

Nov 28, 2008

Mumbai Policeman Lack Proper Firearms

The tenacious team of terrorists were well trained and armed with fully loaded magazines for AK class weapons, spare rounds for AK-class weapons, Chinese-made grenades, and Plastic Explosives (PE). The magazines and spare rounds made it clear that the terrorists were using AK-
47s and were prepared for a long haul.

Before the Marine Commandos and later NSG Commandos arrived on the scene, these highly equipped terrorists were met by Mumbai's finest. They were woefully underarmed.The eight member police team that confronted the terrorists were armed with a revolver with six chambers and six bullets. There have been reports that their bullet proof helmets were faulty and not all of them wearing bullet-proof jackets.

Only when highly trained Commandos came to the scene, the operation started to move in Mumbai's favor. Marine Commandos use 7.64mm AK-47 assault rifles and 9mm MP-5 sub-machine guns. They also have fiberglass crossbows to fire cyanide tipped arrows for stealth operation. The NSG Commandos carry 9mm Uzi sub-machine guns and Glock 17 pistols.

Mumbai Police officers - Karkare, Salaskar died partly because they were underarmed. We need to fix that. If Mumbai is going to feel safe again, then Police charged with the mandate of protection should be armed adequately.

Azam Amir Kasav - Captured Mumbai Terrorist

This is Azam Amir Kasav, a 21 year old from Faridkot in Pakistan. The only terrorist who has been captured alive.

Azam and his colleague attacked CST (victoria terminus) and then moving to Girgaum Chowpatty in a stolen Skoda. Here they were intercepted by team of police from Gamdevi station. Here his partner was killed and Azam was shot on his hand.

He pretended to be dead and was taken to Nair hospital when a cop figured out he was breathing. Tight lipped initially, Azam cracked in front of anti-terror squad. 

Ammunition, a satellite phone and a map of CST was found on him. According to him, chief planner of the plot had come to Mumbai a month before and had scoped the locations. The group was instructed to keep killing till the very last breath.

The group of ten left Karachi, Pakistan in one boat and upon reaching Gujarat they asked for help from a coast guard ship. Two Indian coast guard officers intercepted the team at Porbandar. The terrorists overpowered one of the officers and slit his throat. The other officer was coerced into helping the team. However, as they arrived within 3-4 miles of Mumbai, the remaining officer was killed and thrown overboard. 

Three speedboats were waiting for the terrorists. The team broke up into separate groups. Four left for Taj Mahal Hotel. Two went to Trident Hotel. Two went to Nariman House and two including Azam went to CST.

Azam is now at undisclosed location where he has confessed to killing Mr. Karkare and Mr. Salaskar.

The account of Ajmal also strengthens the doubt of the complicity of powerful elements in the Pakistani establishment. According to him, the group set off on November 21 from an isolated creek near Karachi without the deadly cargo of arms and ammunition they were to use against the innocents in Mumbai. The group received arms and ammunition on board a large Pakistani vessel which picked them up the following day. The vessel, whose ownership is now the subject of an international probe, had four Pakistanis apart from the crew

Mumbai - Where India comes together

Mumbai is the target of terrorism directed at India because in Mumbai you find all of India. Mumbai will get back into stride and flourish. It will again be the place where all of India looks at when they dream of making it in life. Here's a map of Indian delicacies by region - all of them you can enjoy in Mumbai. 

Taj Hotel Terror Activity Map

1. Terrorists arrived via boats as witnesses had observed first boat approaching Gateway of India.

2. First shots were heard in Taj Hotel around 9:30 pm. Grenades were thrown near swimming pool. Terrorists enter the old wing of the hotel.

3. Eight member team of Colaba police armed with service pistols arrive and are confronted by the terrorists coming down from the fifth floor.

4. First confrontation between the police team took place at the second floor. Grenades force the police team back. They take and return fire. One constable is missing from the team.

5. Terrorists resort to random firing across floors and start taking hostages. Additional police reinforcements arrive.

6. Terrorists confront the cops and take the staircase. They reenter the old wing around midnight.

7. A grenade is lobbed at the dome atop the old wing around 2:30 am. Fire breaks out. Firemen begin work to douse the fire.

8. First hostage is rescued from the new wing around 2:45 am. 60 people in all. 30 more visitors are brought to safety around 5 am.

9. Terrorists lob grenades at the lobby connecting old and new wings of the hotel. Still stops the rescue operation for some time.

10. Rescue operation restarts around 7 am, moving floor by floor. 100 more visitors get out.

11. Another encounter starts in the old building around 11 am. New grenades are thrown on the lobby and a second grenade is thrown at the dome around 12:50 pm. Sixth floor room catches fire due to grenades. These fires are put out. Eight more guests are rescued around 2:30 pm. Two terrorists are dead and one is captured alive.

12. Hotel general manager's family - wife and two kids (age 14, 5) charred to death are found on the sixth floor by 5:30 pm.

Nov 27, 2008

CCTV Picture of Mumbai Terrorist

This is CCTV image of a suspected terrorist gunman near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station. 

This picture fits the profile of terrorists described by the witnesses. Automatic rifle carrying young south Asian people, with shoulder bags to hold ammunition and grenades. These terrorists arrived via sea. Authorities have found a sea craft named Kuber abandoned near Mumbai coast. Satellite phones were found in the craft.

A link to Pakistan and Saudi sources is appearing stronger based on early evidence. Intercom and mobile phone communication amongst the terrorists is in Punjabi language, which points to Pakistan.

This terrorist was captured and has been talking to the authorities. More here.

Nariman House of Mumbai

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Nariman House is the place for Chabad of India - a Jewish organization that provides social, educational, and religious programming for all. Mainly a Jewish outreach program. The building also houses a hostel.

The center is run by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg - a young Rabbi who grew up in Brooklyn, NY. It is a home away from home where all backpackers,Business man, tourist and visitors socialize in a comfortable home-like setting with great friends, great food and great discussion. Plenty of young tourists from Israel stop by here before leaving for Goa or Rajastan.

Nariman House was seized and attacked during the recent terrorist attacks on Mumbai. This has to be a planned attack on the building as it is a difficult building to locate. Terrorists did not just stumble into this place. It appears that the Rabbi and his wife have fallen victims to this this cowardly act.

Origin of word Mumbai

The City of Bombay or Mumbai as it called now derives its name from the goddess Mumba. How is the word Mumba derived? Is this a name of a Hindu goddess?

One theory says that the name is derived from Amba Bhavani - a Hindu goddess. Abma is another name for Bhavani - the consort of Shiva the Hindu god of destruction. Just as godess Kali is sometimes called MahaKali or the great Kali, so is Amba called MahaAmba. Maha means great. The natives of Bombay and other illiterates pronounced the word Maha-Amba as Mamba or Mumba

The suffix Ai signifies mother -- Hindu goddess are considered mothers. The word Mumbai is therefore derived from the words 

Maha + Amba + Ai = Mumbai.

The word Bombay (Portuguese Bambaim) is the corruption of work Mumbai.

Mumbai Police examining terrorist getaway car

mumbai police killed two terrorists escaping in a car
Mumbai Police seen examining the car that was used by two of the terrorists killed on Nov 26th. Automatic rifle and bullets are seen on the ground. It is believed that there were about 10-12 individuals in this team of terrorists. Five have been killed and one is in custody.

Taj Hotel - Burning during the night of terror in Mumbai

Explosions inside Taj Hotel as Terrorists were cordoned out by commandos. 

The fire was put off as room by room search for the terrorists continues through the night.

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This landmark of Mumbai is no less significant that what the World Trade Center towers were for NYC. 

Taj Hotel lovers must be wondering about the damage done to the monument. The old wing of the hotel is a stone structure. Other than the defacing done due to smoke, the facade should be intact. The dome woodwork will need to be redone. The inside floors and lobby would have suffered grenade damage and will need extensive rework. Let's hope that this 1903 structure recovers and starts welcoming guests soon. 

Nov 26, 2008

Cama Hospital of Mumbai

At the time of this post, terrorists were holed up in Cama hospital. Here's the history of this great institution of Mumbai.

Cama Hospital bears the name of Mr. Pestonjee Hormusjee Cama, a wealthy Parsee inhabitant, who contributed Rs. 164,311 towards its construction. The hospital opened on July 30th, 1886. It was intended solely for women and young children. When it opened it had only 60 beds. It is next to a smaller building that is Allbless OB/GYN hospital.

The hospital was staffed entirely by women. The religious beliefs at that time did not permit Indian women to be treated or even seen by male physician. This institution was erected to fix that shortcoming in care.

Cafe Leopold

The cafe is now open again.

At the time of this post, there were terrorists at this place, but I am sure the service will begin as soon as that scum is cleaned up by Mumbai's bravest.

Leopold Cafe is actually a bar and cafe. It also called Leo. It is city's one of oldest Irani run restaurants. It was founded in 1871 and is open from 8am - midnight. Varied clientele with a mix of tourists and locals.

The menu is made up of Indian, Chinese, Continental, and Sandwiches and contains more than 333 items. Add to it fruit juices and lassis (yogurt drinks), you have a full meal.

Leopold is named after a Belgian king. 

There is an air-conditioned bar upstairs.


Colaba Causeway, Next to Regal Cinema,
Mumbai, Indian 400039

Anti Terrorism Chief Killed in Mumbai Attack

Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who was probing the Malegaon blast case, and another senior IPS officer were among three officials killed tonight in separate encounters with terrorists who struck at various places across the city. 54-year-old Karkare was killed when he was leading an operation at Cama Hospital against terrorists. 

The 1982 batch IPS officer had returned to his state cadre after serving for seven years in Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) at Austria. Another IPS officer Ashok Marutirao Kamte, a 1989 batch IPS officer, was killed while fighting terrorists at Cama Hospital in the city along with encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.

further updates

Terror Attacks in Mumbai

Four major terrorist attacks have occurred in India's financial capital Mumbai in the last 15 years. Following is a chronology of the major terrorist attacks here:

Nov 26, 2008: Several killed and many more injured in seven terror attacks targeting mostly foreigners' hangout places.

July 11, 2006: More than 200 people killed in seven blasts on suburban trains and stations.

Aug 25, 2003: 46 people killed in two blasts including one near the Gateway of India.

March 12, 1993: A series of bomb blasts left 257 dead and around 700 injured. Buildings attacked included the Bombay Stock Exchange, hotels, theatres, passport office, Air India building and Sahar Airport.

Deonar Landfill is slowly killing the neighbors

The Deonar dumping ground that was built in 1927 is the oldest and the biggest one in Asia. While most dumping grounds are ‘retired’ within 30 years, Deonar has outdone its saturation point and the garbage dumps are as high as nine-storeyed buildings. Currently, dumping is carried out on 110 hectares of the 127 hectares. Around 1,200 trucks full of garbage from all over the city come to empty the garbage daily. 

When the British identified the 127 hectares of land abutting the creek, it was far away from civilization, save for small settlements. Today, thanks to the march of urbanisation, Deonar is right in the heart of the city, spewing killer gases every minute into the homes along Ghatkopar, Chembur and Vashi. 

Around 2.5 million people are affected by the pollution from the Deonar ground. A Survey of nearby hospitals and nursing homes showed that several residents in the Chembur-Ghatkopar stretch have been showing up with an alarming incidence of respiratory problems. From frequent coughs to the more-worrying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the health of these citizens is in shambles. The civic ward has more cases of tuberculosis than any other part of the city. 

The surroundings are so polluted that BEST employees have for the past seven years refused to take possession of two residential buildings constructed close to the ground. About 3,300 employees working at the Shivaji Nagar bus station which abuts the dumping ground do not even eat in their “smelly’’ canteen. 

Nov 25, 2008

Street Movies During Ganesh Utsav

Mumbai has changed a lot over the years. Here's a memory of things when it used to be Bombay. It has to do with the street movies shown during Ganesh Utsav.

Public Ganesh Utsav till the 1980s meant that there would be movies shown on the streets. The film would be selected based on collective demand. Large, noisy projector, make shift screen built with scaffolding of bamboos. The screen was viewable from both the sides -- the wrong side was bit faded but who cared?

Ganesh Utsav was started to build the community spirit, and movies on the streets did their thing to help.

It would not work now. Now movies are available on a handheld device on demand and there is no novelty in watching movies on the streets. Funny movies like Padosan were always a hit, but scary movies like Woh Kaun Thi worked as well.

Do you remember?

Nov 22, 2008

Hillarious Indian Coca Cola Ads

With Aishwarya Rai.

With Aishwarya Rai and Amir Khan

With Amir Khan

Liril Soap

Are you old enough to remember 1980s Liril Soap Ad? It was so racy for the times. It ran regularly on TV spots. Liril was a regular Hindutan Lever Limited (HLL) lime green marble soap, but the Ad sold images of freedom of daily life's drudgery to Indian women. 10-15 minutes spent taking bath is the most private time most Indian women have during the day.  This Ad made Liril the premium freshness soap.

Karen Lunel was the first Liril girl featured here. She was later succeeded by Anoosha Dalal and Priety Zinta.

Video Phone as Home Security Device

video door phone
Here's an interesting Ad about home security.

Mumbai apartments are bolted securely and windows are covered with iron grills to keep the thieves out. Here's another device for the apartment dwellers' peace of mind.

The Video camera is on the outside of the door, and perhaps that is likely to be the most stolen item in this case.

Mumbai Subarban Railway Smart Cards

mumbai subarban railway smart card
Mumbai Suburban Railway has started selling Smart Cards. These smart cards can be used to purchase fare tickets at the stations through automated vending machines. They allow you to circumvent standing in the long lines at the counter. These cards are not similar to ones you see in other modern countries where they can be used directly at the turnstiles to enter at the station.

There is one interesting distinction between the tickets purchased at the automated vending machines and at the manned counters. The tickets at the counter lets you travel to the farthest station based on the fare you purchase. The automated machines print the station you pay for regardless of the range of fares.

Mumbai Transportation Connection 2011

mumbai transportation metro monorail sealink map
Here's how the planned transportation connections appear for Mumbai. Sealink, rail, metro, monorails -- all of these will help shoulder the load of daily commuters and hopefully reduce the traffic and CO2 emmissions.

Faber Air Filter - Funny Ad

faber heat craft kitchen air filter indian cooking
Indian cooking is rich in spices and oil. Not surprisingly, the smell of food remains on you long after the family has finished enjoying their favorite dish. Fortunately, there is air filter available for Indian kitchens. This one is from Faber.

Mumbai Rail-based Projects

mumbai rail based projects monorail metro rail maglev

Mumbai has changed a lot over the years, but that change is nothing when compared to what is planned. Just take a look at the rail based transportation. Here's what we know about the projects already underway or on the drawing board.

Suburban Railway Upgrade
Mumbai has the oldest railway line is Asia. Built in 1853, it will be extended to Dahanu and Uran. Capacity will be increased by running more compartments at a time. This project is already well underway. Project cost is Rs. 5,000 crore.

Mumbai Metro
Planned in 2006, it will provide rail based mass transit connectivity. 146.h km network is being built in three phases. Work has already begun on the first phase from Ghatkopar to Versova. Project cost is Rs. 19,525 crore.

Planned in 2007, it aims to give better connectivity in Mumbai metro region. It will be 20-25km when completed as a pilot project. The routes have been finalized and the work will begin soon. Cost is Rs 2,460 crore.

Elevated Rail Corridor
This will run above existing tracks on Virar-Churchgate routes, exclusively for air-conditioned trains. Five companies have been shortlisted as consultants to the project. Project cost is not known.

State wants six maglev routes with a distance ranging from 20-25 kms. This is part of the high speed corridor for passenger and freight trains between Mumbai and Nagpur which is fast becoming the freight hub of India. Cost is unknown, but a German firm has been appointed to undertake a study.

Dedicated Freight Corridor
Union Ministry has begun building a dedicated high speed freight corridor with double deck trains. The 1,483 km western freight corridor will connect Mumbai to Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. The cost is Rs. 23,680 crore.

Global Economic Meldown Hits Mumbai

mumbai billboards
Mumbai is clearly feeling the effects of a global slowdown. Rarely ever do you see so many billboards without the loud and colorful messages lined up along the roads. Instead, now they simply show the number to call to rent a space for the message. There are very few outdoor billboard campaigns going on.

Nov 8, 2008

Salil Chowdhury

Salil Chowdhury was a famous Hindi and Bengali composer, poet and a playwright. He was born on November 19, 1922 and died on September 5, 1995, just before his 73nd birthday.

He is widely recognised and acknowledged in the Bollywood as one of the most prodigious composers ever. Here's one of his songs rendered by Lata Mangeshkar in film, Parakh. But before that a story about his own singing.

Once, Salil sang an emotional Bengali song on Bimal Roy's request. After the song was finished, Salil found that Lata had fainted. Later Lata told him - "I was so overcome that I couldn't control myself".

Salil used to say - "Almost all my songs that require a female voice have been sung by Lata. I've rarely felt the need to turn to someone else." 

Nov 1, 2008

Sachin Tendulkar - Trivia

For most of them, Sachin Tendulkar remains the boy-next-door. Only that they lead different lives. They are members of Sachin Tendulkar's first playing eleven who got together every evening in the serene settings of Sahitya Sahwas — also known as the abode of Maharashtra's famous literature — to put bat to ball much before he became a cult figure. The boys, who obviously are among his biggest admirers, remember him as much for his cricketing feats as they do for his childhood antics. "He loved to pick up a fight," says Sunil Harshe, Sachin's senior in school. 

"Every time I introduced him to somebody in school, his first reaction was, will I be able to beat him? Invariably, if one entered the class during the recess, he would be fighting." 

He also had a weakness for spinning yarns, remembers another friend Satyajit Anekar. "Once when he had cut his finger he said it was because he tried to touch a helicopter that had flown over his terrace, which had emerged between two adjacent buildings. And he went on to tell us how he had bled buckets!" 

Harshe says he was equally good at tennis and was a big fan of John McEnroe. "We started off playing without rackets. I still remember how happy we were when we brought our first racquets. In fact, there was a time when I believed he would turn out to be a good tennis player. But look what he has turned out to be," muses Harshe, who incidentally was the first captain Sachin played under during the inter-colony soft-ball matches. Academics was never his cup of tea. He loved the outdoors so much his maid Laxmibai had to run around to feed him. But Little Sachin never forgot to share his meals with the colony watchman's son, Ramesh Pardhe, who was a regular companion. 

Pardhe distinctly remembers Sachins cricketing acumen. "We used to often play on the terrace. One day I saw him carry a bucket of water to the terrace. He asked me to dip the rubber ball in water and then hurl the ball at him. He would then see the marks the wet ball made on the bat and know whether he had middled the ball correctly" 

Another fascination for Sachin were band-aids. Any semblance of a wound would make him rush for the band-aid strip, says Pardhe. He was an expert at sticking it with one hand. 

The cricketing turnaround happened soon. Everything started to change once he joined Shardashram High School. Once he began representing Shardashram he had this immense self-belief that he could make it in cricket, says Anekar. 

Much has changed since, but Sachhu continues to be the same for the entire neighbourhood, even though he no longer lives there.