Saturday, November 29, 2008

Three days of Mumbai

I have been glued to the internet for the past three days, getting the latest updates from Mumbai. It seems things have started to settle down and there is only a couple of crazy nut-job children holed up in the Taj Hotel, fighting to the bitter end. I feel very close to the people of Mumbai, though I have not yet stepped on Indian soil. I cannot comprehend why Islamic militants choose violence and revenge to get their message to the world. I guess some people are just bad and evil, and society will never completely erase its lunatics.

It has been a very tense few days. Our doctors and surrogacy family in India are safe. So are the surrogates, assistants, and all involved with our clinic, as well those working with Rotunda clinic. My dear friend in Beijing, whose twins are due in March 09, had a moment of gross panic, as one would expect from an expectant daddy, when he didn't have news of his surrogate nor his children. They are safe.

Our plans have been up in the air since this horrible turn of events began. Initially we were all panicked and feared for the safety of our friends in Mumbai. My sister called me at 6.45am on Wednesday to give me a blow-by-blow account of what was happening in Mumbai, as she had access to BBC and news reports on commercial stations in Australia were slow and out of date.

My dear sister informed me "You're not going to India," to which I replied, "Try and stop me". The idea of cancelling our trip never once crossed my mind, nor Bob's. Never let a nutjob terrorist get in the way of your plans. Thereafter a flurry of calls from friends and family came in, some concerned we were already in Mumbai, others supporting our decision to continue our travels.

We have been saddened and horrified by what we have seen on the news. The death toll continues to rise. While the media is reporting the primary targets of the attacks were Westerners, in particular, British and American nationals, I believe the real targets were the Indian people. It seems to me this is all part of a long and ongoing campaign by Pakistani Islamic militants hell-bent on seeking revenge against Indian Hindus for the perceived persecution of Indian Muslims in India. I don't know the history of the dispute between the two "sides", but I will educate myself about what has been going on.

If these imbecilic bunch of children toting AK-47s and grenades were truly intent on killing as many Westerners as possible, they have failed miserably. While any death in this war is terrible, at the end of the attacks it appears the majority of the dead so far are Indian nationals. I have seen pretty much all the photos of this tragedy on the internet, and am appalled by the brutality. I've cried several times during the past few days, at images of bodies lying prone at the Taj poolside restaurant; at beautiful Indian women carried on stretchers, their sari soaked with their own blood; at the loss of life of so many caught up in a battle they had nothing to do with.

I have also been encouraged by the bravery of the Indian people - the maintenance man at The Taj who shielded guests from bullets, and lay dying in a hotel room, his intestines oozing from a gaping wound to his stomach; the hotel staff under fire, who led people through a maze of corridors to safety; the two ordinary Indian citizens who risked their lives outside Cafe Leopold, to help an injured Australian woman into a taxi so she could get to the safety of hospital. There will be many stories of bravery emerge in coming weeks, but for now, the immediate reaction from foreigners who escaped the carnage is one of immense gratitude and praise for the bravery of ordinary Indian citizens.

So where does this leave us? We are due to fly out in eight days time. As you can imagine, my personal level of excitement has been replaced with sobriety and concerns about the safety of all involved. I am remarkably calm about the turn of events, which surprises me as I can be a very intense personality and usually recoil in anger at the challenges that get thrown my way.

On Thursday our ED agency cancelled the trip to Mumbai due to safety concerns for its donors. While they suggested an alternate plan to do with egg freezing or cycling in South Africa and shipping frozen embryos to India from South Africa, the options were untenable for all three couples in the agency's ED program, and we all said no. Now things have calmed a little, the SI doctors have come up with alternate plans for accommodation and medical treatment in India. The options are moving the donors to Navi Mumbai, which is 70 kilometres away from Colaba where the attacks occurred. They can also be relocated to Pune, the nearest major city to Mumbai, which is around 300 kilometres away from the action. The doctors have also suggested moving the donors and surrogates to New Dehli. This would be a logistical nightmare for the doctors, but they are willing to rearrange their busy lives in order to accommodate us.

It would be so easy for the doctors or the ED agency to simply cancel, or outright delay. But neither are doing so because we have all worked so hard at making our dreams come true. We are all committed to making it happen, and the people we have engaged have such bright, brave and loving spirits, are not quitters and are just amazing beautiful souls.

We are now waiting to hear the decision of the agency about if, when and where they choose for the donors to cycle. This is encouraging news. The attacks have, of course, left three couples desperate to not be let down yet again - thanks to a bunch of stupid, evil, crazy Pakistani children - and in a state of bewildered anxiety. While we swing on our tenterhooks, we know the ED agency and the SI docs are doing all they can to ensure the safety of all, as well as look after the wants and needs of those most affected by a cancellation or delay of plans - the IPs.

I am back to praying and hoping it will all go ahead, and while I might be terribly disappointed if it doesn't, I understand the enormous burden that would be placed on the shoulders of the ED agency should they send three young women to India and they are harmed.

Things are, again, out of my hands. That's life ... but we will never ever give up.


Mike and Mike said...

Amani, Bob,

Be vigilant, be careful, and come home safe and successful.

Mike and Mike

jojo said...

You're in my thoughts all the time, Am. I feel optimistic.


Amani said...

My sister is buying me a black curly wig, and sending me an aboriginal flag to wear as a sari, to diguise me from being an "overweight" well-fed Westerner ... can you believe she said that?!!1

Tigerlilycat said...

You're going to look so fabulous draped elegantly in your flag while Bob's wearing his Aussie cricket team gear - LMAO!!! Fabulous to hear that alternate options (love that being plural!) have been found. Now everything, and everyone, just needs to calm down over the next few days so you can actually get out of your hotel room while you're there.


ng2000 said...
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Lisa Switzer said...

Amani and Bob:

Brian and I are going to hold you in our hearts everyday and prey for your safety and success. We with you both the best of journeys and we love you.