Watching the very sad and scary news from India. Shootings and bombings all over the city—a city which under normal circumstances exists in a state of permanent functional mayhem. I spent a month camped out at the Taj hotel around this time last year. It's now under siege, its old wing in flames, hostages taken—pure terror. It's as likely a target as any I guess, an iconic fortressed preserve in a city that has few identifiable landmarks. A report from someone at the scene described gunmen entering one of the hotel's restaurants to round people up. Gin and tonics are nearly twenty dollars a watery drink at the hotel bar. I've had my share. You drink them knowing that people are sleeping on the pavement outside—literally across the street from the little back exit, away from the grand entrance which opens up onto the Gate of India and its touts and milling crowds and the usual mess of costumed bellmen and comings and goings and waiting drivers. You sip the gin and tonics inside because it's quiet, thinking all the while: I don't know what to think. Easier to think once you're home, a million miles away. Tonight, from safe, holiday-cheery New York, I feel terrible fear for those inside the hotel and for those still in danger. And sadness for the rest whose lives will be damaged by this indirectly. Bombay is a compelling insanity and it gets under your skin.
(Above, a resident crow in the usually bucolic courtyard, Taj Mahal Palace, Bombay, 10.24.07)