December 5th, 2008 02:45 PM
An Interesting Perspective
I didn't know where to post this, so if it should be moved, please do! Kinda long, but very interesting.
Here's a letter sent to me by a friend of Jonathan Ehrlich, a Jewish New Yorker, who escaped the slaughter in Bombay.
Got all your notes. Thank you. I'm ok. A little shaky to be honest but
really just happy to be here. I can't thank you enough for your notes.
You have no idea what means to me. Hope to see and speak to you all soon.
I wrote the following on the plane.
It's 3.33 am Thursday, Nov 27th. And I am writing this from Jet Airways
flight 0227, First leg of the Mumbai Brussels - Toronto Vancouver
journey . It is a ' stream of adrenaline' piece. I apologize in advance for
the grammatical errors. But I wanted it raw and unedited.
First, some context.
I have always been truly blessed. Lucky to be born to the most love a child
could ever wish for. Luck to be born into a family that prided itself on
teaching me how to be a man. Lucky to have been protected and sheltered by
three strong, decent brothers. Lucky to have found and married the kindest
heart on the face of the earth. Lucky to be blessed beyond blessed with four
healthy, beautiful children. Lucky to have wonderful friends who tolerate
Tonight, these blessings, these gifts of love and life bestowed upon me,
this incredible good fortune, saved my life. And I honestly don't know why.
I was in Mumbai on business. I stayed at the Trident hotel. Its sister
hotel, the Oberoi, is right next door and attached by a small walkway.
I had dinner by myself in the Oberoi lobby after some late meetings.
I retired upstairs to my room. About 10min later my colleague, Alex
Chamberlin, texted asking me to join him and his friend in the Oberoi lounge
for a drink. I started to make my way out the door but decided that I was
really too tired. I had a 7am flight, and needed to be up at 5. Rest
beckoned. I closed the light, got into bed and quickly fell asleep. Lucky
life-saving decision number 1.
About 1hr later there was a knock at my door. A few seconds later, the
doorbell rang (they have doorbells for hotel rooms here who'da thunk?). I
thought who the hell is knocking at my door? Turn down service? This
late? Forget it. So I just lay there and hoped they would go away. Lucky
life-saving decision number 2.
Five minutes later I heard and felt a huge bang. I got up and went to look
out the window. A huge cloud of grey smoke billowed up from the road below.
I thought. Fireworks? I didn't see anyone milling about so knew something
wasn't right. I started to walk to the light switch when - BANG another
huge explosion shook the entire hotel.
Oh ****, I thought. Is that what I think this is? I opened the door to the
hallway. A few people were already outside.
I heard the word "bomb".
Oh ****. Oh **** I thought.
I'd like to tell you that I calmly collected my myself and my things and
proceeded to the exits.
I didn't. An adrenaline explosion erupted inside me and almost lifted me
off the floor. And I began to move. Really move.
I went back inside, quickly packed my stuff and went back into the hall.
I ran to the emergency exit and started making my way down the stairs (I was
on the 18th floor).
There were a few people in the stairwell. I was flying by them. I swear I
could have run a marathon in 2hrs. I felt like pure energy.
About halfway down, I called my friend Mark, told him what had happened and
asked him to get me a flight any flight the hell out of Mumbai.
I got to the lobby level. There was a crowd of people in the corridor.
No one moving. No one doing anything. No hotel staff. No security people.
****. I thought. We are sitting ducks.
I decided to get out of there. First, into the lobby.
I stepped through the door into the silent lobby. My first sight was a blood
soaked plastic bag and bloody footsteps leading into the reception area. I
proceeded forward. The windows were shattered and glass was everywhere.
There wasn't a soul around.
Bad decision, I thought. I quickly retreated to the corridor. The crowd of
people had grown.
We've got to get out of here I yelled. Let's go.
I looked around for the emergency exit and started running towards it.
I made my way through the bowels of the hotel and out into a dark alley. It
was empty and silent. I looked to my left and about 100m away saw a few
security guards milling about.
Run they screamed. I began to move toward them.
I reached the main street and was immediately swept up into the Indian
throngs (for those who have been to Mumbai, you must know what I mean).
People, people everywhere. But they were all eerily quiet. No one was talking..
No car horns. Nothing.
I started yelling "airport airport".
Someone (a hotel cook, I believe) grabbed me and my bag and threw me into a
As I sped away, I didn't see a single police car nor hear a single siren.
Just the sound of this ****-box car speeding down the deserted road.
Traffic was stop and go. I made it to the airport in about 1hr, cleared
customs and buried myself in a corner of a packed departure lounge, called
my wife, called my parents and brothers and started emailing those friends
who knew I was in Mumbai.
Sadly, Alex my American colleague who texted me for a drink and his friend were
not so lucky. The terrorists stormed into the lobby bar and killed several
people. They took Alex and his friend hostage and started to march them up
to the roof of the hotel.
About half way up, Alex managed to escape (he ducked through an open door
and hid) but his friend was caught. And as I write this, that poor man is
still on the roof of the Oberoi.
Alex is safe but as expected, extremely worried about his friend.
I'm telling you right now. If I decided to meet Alex for that drink tonight
I'd either be dead, a hostage on the roof of a building 30 hours away from
everyone I love, or - if I had the balls of Alex a
And remember that knock/ring at my door? Well, I subsequently learned that
the first thing the terrorists did was get the names and room numbers of
western guests. They then went to the rooms to find them.
Ehrlich, with an E, room 1820.
I'll bet my entire life savings that they were that knock at my door.
Thank god for jet lag.
Thank god for "cranky tired Johnny" (as many of my friends and family know so
well) that compelled to get into and stay in bed.
Thank god for being on the 18th floor.
Thank god for the kind, wonderfully kind people of Mumbai who helped me tonight. The
wonderfully kind hotel staff. That cook. My cab driver who constantly said
"relaxation" "relaxation" deep breath sahib", "I help" and who kept me in the cab when we hit a
particularly gnarly traffic jam and I just wanted to get out and walk. And for
other people in traffic who, upon hearing from my own cab driver that I was one from the Oberoi,
literally risked life and limb to stop traffic to let us get
by (as again, only those who have been to Mumbai can truly appreciate).
Mumbai is a tragically beautiful place. But oh, so incredibly sad. That cloud of despair and dread and heavy depression.
I am convinced that its inhabitants are definitely children of some troubled but immensely soulfully distraught god.
I'm sitting on the plane now (upgraded to first class
..see, told you I'm lucky ☺).
Just had the best tasting bowl of corn flakes I've ever had in my life.
Hennessey coursing through my veins. Concentration starting to loosen and
sleep beginning to creep onto my horizon.
I still feel a bit numb. But mostly I feel like I've just watched a really,
really bad movie starring me. Because right now, it all doesn't feel real.
Maybe a few hours of CNN will knock me into reality. But the truth is numb
is fine with me for a while. If I do end up thinking about the What If's, I
don't really want to do that until I'm much much closer to home. And I have
30 more hours of travel time to go.
But before I sign off, let me say this.
The people who did this have no souls. They have no hearts. They are simply
the living manifestation of evil and they only know killing and murder.
We all of us - need to understand that. Their target tonight was first
and foremost Americans. And Jews. The Chabad Jewish Center was carefully targeted.
Why? Because they fear everything that America
stands for. They fear hope and change and freedom and peace. Let's make no
mistake; they would have shot me and my children point blank tonight with
out a moment's hesitation. Most of us sorta know that but sometimes we
equivocate. We can't equivocate. Not ever.
I know that I want to go back. Lay some flowers. Wrap my arms around these
people. Say thank you. Spend some money on overpriced hotel gifts and tip
well. And generally give the ******** who did this the big **** you and show
them that I am not I repeat not afraid of them.
But first I need to go squeeze my wife. Dry her tears. Then have her dry
mine as I hold my beautiful beautiful babies who will be
(thankfully) oblivious to all of this. Because isn't that what life is
I appreciate you taking the time to listen.
With much, much love.
December 5th, 2008 03:07 PM
Not much to say except thanks for sharing this perspective.
Remain armed and stay safe.
"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." - Thomas Jefferson
December 5th, 2008 03:16 PM
Very griping account of what happened. Thanks for sharing...
The most exhilarating thing in life is getting shot at with no results.
- Winston Churchill
Endowment Life Member - NRA
Life Member - GOA
Member - Oath Keepers, SAF, CCRKBA
U.S. Army (72G) 1975-1980
December 5th, 2008 03:21 PM
Quite a story. Thanks for sharing. Glad he is ok.
Goes to show how awareness, training, good decisions, and luck all play an important role in how things turn out.
I would have ditched my luggage ASAP. I don't know that the airport is the safest place to run to, but I understand how there are limited options in a strange place.
December 5th, 2008 03:24 PM
I am a sucker for happy endings :)
It is not "might OF", it is "might HAVE". It is not "could OF", it is "could HAVE". Go spread the word.
December 5th, 2008 03:26 PM
Very moving account. Glad he's safe, I wish more there were.
Regards, T Bone.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".
December 5th, 2008 03:33 PM
Thank you very much for sharing.
December 5th, 2008 05:11 PM
What an account...thanks for sharing the story.
The last Blood Moon Tetrad for this millennium starts in April 2014 and ends in September 2015...according to NASA.
Certified Glock Armorer
NRA Life Member[/B]
December 5th, 2008 05:19 PM
Wow. Got tears in my eyes. Thank you for posting that.
I wonder how he will tell the story to his kids - when they are old enough to hear it...
"I pledge allegiance to the war banner of the united states of Totalitaria. And to the Republic, which no longer stands, several bankers, who are now god, indivisible, with Bernanke bucks and credit for all."
December 5th, 2008 05:57 PM
I seen this guy give his story on the News. He is one very lucky person
"When the people fear the government you have tyranny...when the government fears the people you have liberty."
--Thomas Jefferson --
December 5th, 2008 10:48 PM
Thank you for sharing your experience with us. So often, we do not hear about the heroes who helped you. Hope you enjoy the down time with your family and get to complete your goal of going back and being a part of Mumbai again.
December 5th, 2008 11:15 PM
Thank you for sharing and good for you to head back there to thank the people that helped you!
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