Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful to be Alive

This is an email I got from my friend Mandrake whose friend went through hell in Mumbai. I know that it is long but it is important to remember what can happen when insane people with an agenda can make innocent people suffer because, because, because..... I'm sorry? What was the reason? I don't get it. I'm just pissed.
Dear Family and Friends,
I hope you can understand that reliving the events that took place this past Wed and Thursday is quite difficult and not something that I want to go over and over at this point. It is enough to subdue it internally when pieces flash back.
I can understand how you would like to know what happened; how I was and do feel about it; and what you may be able to do for me. I have decided to write this out not only to share with you but also as I feel it is therapeutic for me as well.
Some of you know that I was in Mumbai this past week and even that I was in one of the hotels when the attacks started. For those of you that don’t know I’m sure this will come up and you will want to know so I’m sharing this with you now.
Here is my story: Wednesday evening the 26th of November, 2008, 3 colleagues, 2 service provider representatives and I were dining in a restaurant called Marsala Kraft in the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.
Towards the end of the meal around 9.30 we heard gun shots coming from the direction of the lobby down the corridor from where we were. I knew right away it was a gun shot. My hope was that it was from security but it wasn’t long before several shots rang out. One of my colleagues said fire crackers. Another colleague who was out in the hall returning from the restroom came in stunned, he mentioned fire crackers too. I knew the sound of gun shots though and I could tell by the pattern of the shooting that it had to be some mad man (or men) that were shooting at anything that was around.
You could hear the shots get closer and I again said gun shots as I was starting to duck under the table. The employees of the restaurant ran towards the door to close and lock it. That was when it did hit home with my other colleagues it was much more likely that it was a gun and not fire crackers. They got under the tables as well. The lights were tuned down and you could continue to hear the shots get closer.
We were at a table right by the window that was on the corridor so I whispered we needed to move away and go towards or out the back. We made our way towards the back in a crouched position. I asked one of the restaurant staff to open the back door or window to get out and he said, “No. No lady, you don’t know where they are or how many there are. It is not safe out there.” He was right. Within a few seconds you could hear shots out on that back side as well, they had made it a bit further through the corridor to where there was an exit/entrance to the back court yard/terrace area and they were taking shots at the people out there.
We hovered down in a corner that fortunately had a fair amount of marble around it for several minutes. Then the staff ushered us into the kitchen area where it was less exposed and venerable to external spray of bullets.
The staff was kind and helpful. They distributed water and got chairs for those that needed seats. They offered to give us whatever we needed. We also tried to calm each other down and keep a positive perspective.
This was very hard for me, I knew most likely what was unfolding and if it was one of the only 3 possibilities, I was a target, the epitome of what they were against – a US citizen that is in the capital markets, dining in an opulent hotel for a business dinner in a city and country where the disparity between the upper and lower class is overwhelmingly large... There were only 3 possibilities that came into my head
A disgruntled employee going “postal”
Indian Muslim extremists attacking Hindus
Ø Or the most likely scenarios, given the venue and the way the shots were ringing out
A terrorist attack against westerners.
One thing that gave me some hope then and through out the night was that it wasn’t an immediate high explosive, lethal bomb blast, which would be expected for #2 and #3. But it did turn out to be a combination of 2 and 3.
I didn’t feel comfortable there in that kitchen. We were sitting ducks, it was only a matter of time before they would start breaking through the glass and/or shooting down the doors to go look for people hiding. Or, as later found out, throw a grenade in there.
This was indeed the case. They broke into the restaurant, shot some and took others hostage.
After being in the kitchen area for somewhere around 45mins to an hour the staff relocated us to a more “secure” area of the hotel. They took us down stairs and through a maze of staff tunnels, supply areas, etc to an area called, The Chambers.
As we went through the halls there were so many hotel personnel standing aside watching. A range of emotions went through me. It almost seemed like we (most of us being foreigners) were put as a number one priority and their safety and lives were valued 2ndto ours. Sadness and almost a bit of embarrassment first came over me as I don’t see us being any more important. Then fear, it is a definite attack on westerners and they need to do their utmost to keep us from harms way.
It does make sense though as most likely, the hotel management knows that no matter what kind of attack, that if they don’t keep the guest safe, no one will be coming in the future and they will go out of business. Those employees won’t have a job, so everyone will lose. Or is this what I can tell myself to help me feel better about it?
I know most were able to get out and to safety a few hours later and I’m alive so I don’t have to let those emotions get the best of me.
In the Chambers the atmosphere was different. The number of guests was quite higher (I think between 200 and 300), lights on, people walking around, the restrooms being used, and the staff even serving some snacks, water and soda. We came from other restaurants, conference rooms, ballrooms, wedding receptions, and wedding ceremonies about to commence when the shooting started.
We were told we were secure here with police guarding us. The terrorists were on the other side of the historic section of the hotel. It was only a matter of time before it was secure enough to evacuate us. This turned out to be a grossly inaccurate assessment of the situation.
About an hour and half later (around midnight) we could hear and feel blasts. While it was comforting to know/feel they were on the other side, it was unnerving to know they had explosives. The mood started to change a bit. While it was still more casual and lighter than when we were in the dark kitchen, you could tell that apprehension was starting to build. What was going on? Who were these people? How many of them? What was their agenda? Who was their target? How much explosives did they have? Where exactly were the police and/or security? We hadn’t actually seen any.
Is this going to be a delayed suicide bomb attack? Are they going around the hotel right now setting up explosives?
We were trying to answer these questions by turning to wifi devises to get news, calling to love ones outside watching the news to relay back to us.
It didn’t help me reading an article on the blackberry that they found a boat just outside of the Taj that was full with explosives. It did help to read an article that stated grenades were being thrown at the police. We then knew what the blasts were.
It didn’t help to read that they were looking for American and UK citizens. I thought about what I was going to do? Speak French, try to sound northern Irish? Would they be sympathetic enough towards them or since they are westerners it doesn’t matter and I’m in just as much danger. I decided that I would take my chances speaking French if it came to it.
I also took my ids (one of which is a Netherlands resident permit) and a credit card. If I were to get out and not have my bag, I would have some sort of ID to maybe get an emergency passport. Also, lord forbid if it came to this but as it may, id on me so it would be easier to id my body. Clinging to the hope of getting out, a credit card to pay for what ever I may need after I get out. I stashed it away in a bandage I had wrapped around my knee. It would be difficult to be found or lost, unless needed.
If they came in shooting, I wanted to be close to a coffee table, couch or cabinets to duck in or under. I kept close to one of those all night.
Around 3am we were told we were going to be evacuated. We lined up to make our way out. My colleagues and I were towards the back still in the Chambers area. After a few short minutes, there was a huge group of the guest retreating in panic to the chambers area. I dove under a coffee table and covered my eyes. I didn’t want to see what would happen to me or those around me. I heard so many loud bangs but knew it wasn’t shots, were the guest trying to fight off the terrorists? Then there was some quite and people around me started to peak their heads up, I did as well.
It turns out that there was too much noise while we were being evacuated, which alerted the terrorists and they opened fire at the group. Those at the door ran back inside invoking a stampede. The bangs were from people knocking and tripping over tables and chairs.
A few were very, very shaken, needing help to walk to a chair and embraces to calm their heart and nerves to live through the next stage, then on to the time where we can make our way out. One man was grazed by a bullet. It would be an even longer and painful night for him.
Many of us alarmed by the fact that there were only a few (2 to 4, it is still not clear) police or commandos guarding us. We were in a room without locks on one side and on the other nothing but large glass windows.
I hated that I didn’t know where I was in the hotel, how or where to get out. We were sitting ducks in this large virtually unsecured room; we had no defense, nothing other than hope.
Even worse, they know where we are, our safety is compromised.
The remaining 1 to 2 hundred of us turned down the lights, went down to the ground and if it was at all possible took cover somewhere to wait it out. The next 7 hours were hell.
My colleagues and I crouched around an area together. Too close to the doors for my comfort, but it didn’t really matter where you were in the room, there was no safe place. I felt better being next to a couch and a table, as well as having my colleagues there. One of which turned to me, and said, “no matter what, you say your French and speak as best as you can, be calm.”
There were a couple of hours of quiet or removed gun fire or blasts. Then there was intense shooting and some blasts fairly close. It seemed they got closer and closer. Everyone tried to take more cover. I was able to dive and fit under the couch. The shooting continued for several minutes. I did my best to stay calm, then the shooting subsided.
My thoughts were that the terrorists were making their assault on the thin line that protected us. They did hold them off then. I’m not sure if it was just a few of those police and/or commandos, which in the beginning I think it was or if the New Delhi anti-terrorist squad had arrived yet. Due to the sequence of events I think it was the former at this time.
There were times where I could periodically hear or feel shooting from below. I did a lot of thinking under that couch. I am happy to say and could take some refuge in the fact that I could feel happy about the life I had lived up to that point. I didn’t have any regrets; I have lived a good life. Although, I didn’t want it to end and felt I still have so much more to experience, I also knew that up to that I had done the best I could to live an enriching life up to these moments.
I have said that I rather die in a terrorist attack, or from a diving accident, etc because I was out living life rather than living a life of fear, then dying in a car accident a couple of miles from my home. I questioned that as I lied under the couch. I still believed it in those moments. I still believe it now. I didn’t want to die at the hands of these maniacs but if I did, I would prefer it that way then an untimely death to an unlived life.
My spiritual views remained the same as well.
Knowing that even under the great probability of death that I felt all of the above, which is what I would have wanted to if I was in this situation helped keep me calm and accept the situation as well as the outcome, in either way it happens to be.
I did also think about what more might I have wanted in my life and or in the life I will lead if/when I get out. For me it mainly came down to living an even better life. I have been putting a few things off, like making time to volunteer in the community and getting in shape. I will no longer put these off. In fact, I am feeling like one of the things I want to get involved in is intercultural understanding and time into having a comprehensive understanding of, and, fighting the root causes of “terrorism”.
Unfortunately, the last assault was not the last. There were a few more that were even more intense. One sounded as if it was on 3 sides of us. But there seemed to be more fire power. Had the New Deli brigade arrived? There was silence for a while.
Then the next one, where I thought they penetrated through the defense, thus were just on the other side of the unlocked swinging doors, going through a few of the rooms where we wandering about earlier in the night.
This was it; it was only a matter of moments. I got as deep as I could under the couch, got my black shawl wrapped around all the white skin showing to blend in with the shadows.
I took long, slow, deep breaths and told myself it will all be okay, whether I live or die there will be no pain and I will be happy.
Then it subsided. It subsided for many hours, in fact I even drifted off a few times to sleep.
The next thing I know the room is getting lighter. When the sun was up the people were restless. Some started to get up, others tried to get them to get back down and remain quiet. Too many were moving, it couldn’t be stopped.
Very, very fortunately for us, there wasn’t another assault and a commando came in to start an evacuation.
When he first came in he shouted, “Everyone stand up! Put your hands up!” I actually thought at first that he was one of the terrorists. Since there was no cover of people around the couch and I had a birds eye view of him I was thinking that it would be worse to hide then to come out and try to pretend to be French. If they saw me they may not be as nice. I crawled out and that is when I realized it was actually a savior.
It was 10am on Thursday the 27th and we were being ushered out. The man that was on the couch above me was dead. Presumably from cardiac arrest. I didn’t see any bodies but colleagues saw one in one of the halls we were led down. There were a few pools of blood. One smaller pool just outside our room with bullet shells and glass all around.
The shooting and some of the blasts were indeed as close as they sounded and felt.
THANK GOD (Allah, Yahweh, whatever you believe in as it really doesn’t matter), that the few authorities that were there were able to keep those mad men away! I really, believe, had they gotten through it would have been a massacre. There were too many of us to manage in a hostage situation. Plus, the press they would get for killing that many at one time.
It wasn’t completely over. Besides trying to make sure we got out to the buses safely, there was also leaving the area in the buses without being harmed.
One bus was loaded and went off. Then they brought another, but it was not under the cover of the entry way. As some of us were making our way into the open to board the bus, shots rang out. We ran to cover. My colleagues and I ducked behind a white jeep that was sitting there and managed to make our way to the cover of the entry way. It was still unnerving though as we were exposed to lower floor windows on the other side of the hotel (I know now they are the ballroom windows on the 1st floor, where the final stand took place).
An ambulance came up; the authorities pick out some people to load up. I was one of them. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to separate from the others and I didn’t want to be in the vehicle that seemed too venerable to gun fire. The authorities were pretty much insisting that I go, finally one of the colleagues said I’ll go with her. I just waited back though and let others board until it was full. We returned to the others.
Another bus pulled up. We all piled on and got into positions to crouch down and take cover as we would pass by the hotel and be whisked away to safety. I could crawl down ½ way under the seat so both my colleague and I could take lower cover.
Some of us shared our feelings out loud, drive fast, fast, go, go, go. Then a few blocks and it stopped. AT first a few questioned why. When we peeked up we realized we were out of view and safe. We could then sit comfortably to the police station.
From the police station we went to the house of a man named Anish. He was the boss of the two service providers we met with that night for dinner. He and his family were very, very accommodating, providing us with food, toothbrushes, tooth paste, towels, chargers for our blackberries (these ended up being life lines to help us get through), clothes, drivers to take us to the different consulates to get emergency passports and exit visas from the Indian officials, etc.
We also received an outpour from all the other service providers we went to visit there offering us assistance of any kind.
Coincidently, we were all staying at the Oberoi. While we were in the Chambers we all decided that since it seems we were destine to go through this, it was better that we were all together at the Taj than alone in our own separate rooms at Oberoi. Also, it sounded like the events taking place there were worse than what was going on at the Taj. Now that all is said and done, both were as equally bad.
Once at Anish’s, we got to work on getting emergency passports for one of my Dutch colleagues and myself, as our passports were back in the Oberoi along with all our other bags. Fortunately, both of us were able to secure them and the exit visa we would need in the absence of the passport that had the entrance visa for India.
The gravity of the situation hasn’t completely sunk in. There are definitely some immediate effects and a range of emotions that I’m dealing with, but the important thing is that my colleagues and I are home safely now. We have received a lot of support from our family, friends and other colleagues in our respective home offices. My parents will be arriving into Amsterdam tomorrow and I am very happy to have them close to me and spending some time with them.
I’m so thankful to:
The colleagues and 2 reps we were with that night
The Indian police and service men that protected us and got us home to safety.
The hotel staff for doing their best to keep us safe and comfortable. They kept amazing composure under the horrific pressure they (we) were under.
Arjan and my mom who were my life lines on the other side as I was going through this.
My father and colleagues on the other side for acting swiftly to get us back home safely.
Anish and his family for welcoming us in their home and taking such good care of us.
All the family and friends that have offered support and assistance in anyway that I need.
I appreciate and love you all. Please remember to cherish every moment you have, because you don’t know when it might be the last. Living a full life will not only be good for you, it also doesn’t allow them to win. Remember to love, besides it enriching your life; it is one of the things that can resolve the conflict that we are all experiencing across the globe.-right: 0in; margin-bottom: 10pt; margin-left: 0in; ">I appreciate and love you all. Please remember to cherish every moment you have, because you don’t know when it might be the last. Living a full life will not only be good for you, it also doesn’t allow them to win. Remember to love, besides it enriching your life; it is one of the things that can resolve the conflict that we are all experiencing across the globe.

Everyone Looks Better in Candlelight

So gorgeous, so seductive. And the music doesn't hurt. *sigh*

And For All You Guys Out There...

It's a gratuitous video of Megan Fox, prancing around in her panties. Mmmmmmmm, panties.
Actually, the best part of the video is the curling iron in the beginning, because it looks like a vibrator. Not that I would know anything about that...

More Gratuitous Male Crotches!

In the spirit of the last post, here is Joel McHale talking about David Beckham's Armani underwear ads.

Remember this Picture of Al Gore?

Well, another magazine gave Hugh Jackman the same "special delivery" package treatment.

Another Genius in the NFL Gets Shot

Plaxico Burress was out partying in The Latin Quarter, a club in Manhattan, where somehow, some way, he managed to get shot in the thigh. Was it the one he already injured? No details have been released yet, so we don't even know why this happened. I'm going with the disgruntled fan argument. Or maybe he's just an idiot. It's a toss-up.
UPDATE: The answer is: he's an idiot. His gun slipped down his pant leg and he shot himself trying to catch it. He fumbles again!!!

Shopper Feeding frenzy

I do not understand bargain hunting freaks who will go to ANY lengths to get what, $5 off a freaking crap toy? I have never participated in Black Friday and now I never will. Michael K put it best in his post about the trampling of a Wallmart employee by crazed shoppers in Nassau county, New York. Here is the Dlisted link.

Even the Devil Doesn't Like You

Michael Wolff has a new book coming out next week about Rupert Murdoch called, "The Man Who Owns the News." If you've been reading Vanity Fair for the past couple of months you've read the excerpts and you know that Rupert Murdoch despises Bill O'Reilly. I wonder how Billy 'shit for brains' is going to react to the insane amount of media coverage this story is going to get. Hopefully, he's egomaniacal enough to have a Murdoch aimed meltdown on TV, followed by his firing, followed by complete ostracizing by the media elite, followed by skid row and a gun in his mouth.
Too harsh?

Charles Barkley Has a Big Mouth

And an opinion on everything. He said that Lebron James was being disrespectful to the Cavs fans by talking about his free agency in 2 years. First af all, he can talk about whatever he wants, he's Lebron James. Secondly, since when have you given a crap about Cavs fans? And last of all, you and your big pie hole say shit like this to stay relevant and not fall off the radar into obscurity.

Oh, and Lebron called him "stupid." Cat fight!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Don't know if I'll be posting much today because nothing is happening except the terrorist attack in Mumbai, and I'm really not in the mood for that today. So, have fun, drink lots of wine and try not to embarrass yourself with that cute cousin you've always had a crush on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


If you are a Penguins hockey fan and you are not reading this blog, then you are an idiot. Great writing, game pictures and some funny photoshop.

Lock Up Your Teen Daughters

Just saw "Twilight," the teen vampire movie that has every girl under the age of 20 wringing out their panties on an unprecedented level. It was the first time I was in a theater full of teen girls where it was reverentially quiet for 2 hours! On the other hand, if you are a teen boy whose girlfriend isn't putting out, this might substantially improve your chances of getting some. Just bring condoms.
Oh, and the native american kid is WAY hotter than all the vampires combined.


My gay bestie and the cutest boy in the NFL hurted his finger weally bad. No more tushie slaps in the showers or cute notes from linebackers taped inside his locker. Awwww, don't worry. Next year is sooner than you think. Then it's back to hands between butt cheeks and sweaty pile-ups.

Pink Likes Herself. A Lot.

This is Pink's new video called sober. I don't have the patience for the lyrics or the song in general but SHE MAKES OUT WITH HERSELF. And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Andy's Dad

This is for those of you who think that SNL isn't funny anymore. You're right. It's not funny. It's freaking hilarious.

Horatio Sanz is Totally Do-able

I am not lying. Click on the link, you will not beleive your eyes.

Henry Rollins' Love Letter to Ann Coulter

In light of what's happened to her, maybe she'll take him up on his offer.

Alive and Amplified

It's a very low rent style of video but the song is slammin.

"The Wrestler" Trailer

I love Mickey Rourke even with his busted ass face. That thing looks like it's made entirely out of skin grafts and who knows. Maybe it is.

A Prayer Has been Answered

The New York Post's Page Six is reporting that freakishly long-fingered republican spokesbitch Ann Coulter has broken her jaw, and has had to have it wired shut!

Congratulations New York, your air just got 99% cleaner!

Who Wants to go to Dubai?

And who hasn't had sex on the beach? Supposedly, these two.
They were caught drunkenly groping each other on a beach in mostly muslim Dubai and charged with public indecency and intoxication. I thought that they cut your peen off for that and then made you eat it or something, as for the girl? I think they hang you by your own ovaries. So, imagine my surprise when Michelle Palmer and Vincent Acors were forced to pay a fine but serve no jail time. Is Dubai turning into the Sodom and Gommorah of the muslim world? (Or do they just want to make sure that they don't scare away all those tourists)

Teacher vs. Pop-Up Porn

Some poor substitute teacher in Connecticut got brought up on felony charges that could have landed her in jail for 40 years if it wasn't for computer security experts finding out about her case. Pop-up porn started to appear on her screen during class through no fault of her own and when they prosecuted her they never even checked her computer's spyware!

Here's the link:

Death Goes Green

There is such a lack of flat, sunny land in the town of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, outside of Barcelona, that the locals had only one place to put their solar panels. The cemetery. Not only is the town super crowded (124,000 people in 4 sq. kilometers), but so is the cemetery with mausoleums that 5 deep under ground.

It makes me crazy to think of all the open, sunny land we have in this country that we could fill up with solar panels, or all the wind in the midwest for turbines, etc. etc... and we're not doing it! Some little town in Spain is willing to put up with visiting graves that now have shiny panels on them instead of flowers and we're still living in the 20th century.

Here's the link to the story:

Monday, November 24, 2008


One of my favorite songs and the video is awesome. I have an angel in my life, I hope you do too.

My Recurring Nightmare

I have so much respect for these guys but it is the stuff of my bad dreams starting in March. If you haven't been watching Storm Chasers on Discovery HD put it in your Tivo. Totally amazing.

For All of You Who Have Daughters

How Long Until Someone's Fired (Romeo, Are You Listening?)

I watched the Browns' game yesterday and actually rooted for them even though I am a life long Steelers fan. But what the fuck?! All that talent against a crap team? Romeo Crenell's days are numbered. I was actually worried that the Browns would give us a run for our money this year, and I have to say that I am disappointed. I will be surprised if the Steelers go very far in the post season, we have been so uneven on every front except D. But the rivalry makes football season worth it, no matter what the expectations. So, we will see, and I'm still not convinced that Brady sucks, or even that he's gay. What guy doesn't like tights and grabbing his friend's crotch?

If he is a nanny sissy boy, I will be his bestie fag hag, promise. I have PLENTY of baby oil.

Another Reason to be Glad Hillary is Secretary of State

More SNL parodies of Bill Clinton!