Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Email after Mumbai terror

I know there are plenty of e-mails making the rounds on this circuit but below is one that I have liked very much as it puts forward an action plan that you and I can adopt in our lives.

   Dear Friends,     Firstly I would like to thank you all for the love,  support, prayers and  good wishes extended to me over the last few days. I would  like to reply  to all you messages one by one but it will be impossible to  do in such a  short time frame. It was these messages that kept me going  for the last  few days giving me hope and comfort.     As many of you might know from email and newspaper articles  my father  was trapped in the oberoi hotel for 36 hours. He was eating  dinner with  his two close friends Anand Bhatt and Pankaj Shah, both of  whom have  been father figures to me over the last several years. The  three of them  were trapped along with another fifteen people in the  Kandhar restaurant  when the terrorist arrived. They were all marched up  fifteen or so  flights of stairs up to a landing in the fire escape where  two  terrorists lined them up and opened fire with AK 47s. A  bullet grazed my  father's neck and he collapsed on the floor with all  the bodies piling  up on top of him. Some how he and 3 others managed to  survive hiding  among the dead bodies for the next two days. We lost both  Anandbhai and  Pankaj Uncle in the shooting.     My father is now safe at home with minor wounds, which will  heal, but  the damage of losing such dear friends and good people  continue to haunt  us. Somehow with the help of God and all our friends we  hope that one  day we can reclaim the innocence of life which is now so  lost to us.     There are several stories I can tell you.... tales of near  escape, luck  and sheer herosim. I am inspired and touched by the many  brave men and  women who gave their lives to perform their duty and know  that somewhere  they are with God. To their families I give my deepest  condolences and  pray to God that somehow one day we can understand why they  fell to such  madness.     Today I attended the march outside the gateway of India...  the press  were calling it the gateway of anger and in many ways they  are right. I  saw the impassioned youth of India frustrated with the  ineptness and  impotence of our leaders. I saw a spark in their eyes that  fills me with  a hope that we can change this city and this country. The  youth are  educated and strong and believe in a better country for us  all. Their  strength will carry us forward into the next phase of our  country.     I only wish to ask a few things of everyone that reads  this... things  that have become clear to me over the last few days. I  shall list them  down point by point.    The following is my action plan for the rest of my life...  what I will  take away from this experience.     1) Do not preach violence and war without first  understanding its true  nature. I spent 2 nights hearing the guns and grenades  going off from  outside the hotel and imagined my father in there. What I  felt at that  moment I would not wish on any family in the world. We must  not let our  passions take control of us and become the very same demons  that held  our city hostage. Our response must be measured educated  and precise.  Please do not ask for anything more from you leaders.     2) Corruption is the cancer of our society and has now  shown how it can  cripple us. Politicians are too busy making money to carry  out their  work. This again starts with you and me. From today I  promise never to  bribe another government servant. I will go to every  businessman I know  and ask him to do the same. Please let us collectively rid  our nation of  this poison.     3) Train yourself mentally and physically to protect  yourself and your  family. Learn a martial art or basic self-defense. If  everyone in these  hotels knew how to react to violence maybe we may have  overcome this  situation sooner. If you do not with to learn to fight  learn basic first  aid and lifesaving techniques. We are heading to a  situation of war soon  and these skills will serve us well in the future.     4) Be involved with an NGO/govt org/ prayer group. Connect  with your  society and help to uplift it with money and time. We now  have to be  concerned with what goes on outside the doors of our  apartments and  bungalows. Educate a poor child and he will be an asset in  the future  not an easy recruit for terrorists and criminals. Reach  across communal  borders and get to know other religions. It is only after  we start this  dialogue on the basic level will we be able to be undivided  when the  terrorists try to divide us.    5) Love and cherish your family and friends... even the  ones who you  think are weird and different. The sheer number of people  who supported  our family through this crisis has been amazing... people  who I haven't  spoken to for years have reached out with love support and  prayers. It's  only after incidents like these that you realize how petty  your  day-to-day problems are. The terrorists didn't check  whether the people  they shot were Hindu, Muslim, rich, poor, ugly, well  dressed etc etc....  They just shot.... we should not diffrentiate between  people when we  share our love and support. If you can make a sad person  smile for me  you are a hero.     6) Fear nothing except fear itself.... your destiny is  written.... if  the bullet had been one centimeter off my father would have  been  dead.... never be scared.... be bold and be brave and when  the time  comes you will meet your maker with dignity.    7) Stand up for what's right... support those who do  ...     8) Smile, dance, sing enjoy the beautiful world that god  has given us.  Plant a tree and give back to nature. Life is fleeting and  if you don't  enjoy it what's the point.     9) Confront your guilt and stand up to your fears.  Apologize to those  you have wronged and forgive yourself for the wrongs you  have committed.      A few messages I wish to convey -    To the terrorists and people who committed this cowardly  act I want to  thank you for exposing our weakness so now we may become  strong, for  hurting our pride so that we may be humble, for scaring us  to that we  can be brave, for angering us so that we can unite. You  have served as  an alarm clock for a sleeping giant and I hope that one day  I can meet  you face to face and show you how wicked and weak you  hearts are.     To the people of Pakistan... I know that you have been  victims of terror  too and I pray to God that you have the strength and  clarity to face the  demons that exist in your country. Money and power means  nothing without  the love of your friends and family and it is now time to  stand up and  fight for what's decent and right. Its time to stop  letting the jihadis  and self-serving govt officials fool you. Take control of  your country -  never forget that we were once one proud nation and the  same breed of  men split us apart. We are with you in body heart and  spirit.     To fellow Indians.... never forget where you came from ...  we have  inspired the world before and the time has come again...  never again is  a casualty or death acceptable... be it a poor man in a  train or a rich  man in a five star hotel... We must protect our children  and our  motherland with blood, sweat and tears.     To my friends and family ... you are the most important  part of my life  and without you there is no meaning. I hope you are safe  and happy  wherever you may be and hopefully we will be together soon.        with all my love always,     Romil Parikh   

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