"Many hotel working staff are killed and it seems in one of the hotel the swimming pool is almost like a graveyard."
-Email reply from a friend in Mumbai, just blocks away.
This really hits home. Just six months ago on this day, I stayed at the Taj Hotel while on foreign assignment in India. Today, it was attacked by a group of terrorists that threaten the well being and safety of thousands of foreign nationals and local Indians alike. It's a constant reminder at just how quickly the world can change--all it takes is a gust of wind, the pull of a trigger, the blink of an eye.
"It is a sad and shocking situation and so far many guests in these hotels are under hostage. Army and security groups are trying hard to negotiate before barging in as there are chances the hostages will be killed rampantly."
Within me, I've got this strange and eery feeling just knowing that I was there not too long ago. And sometimes, while reading news of the destinations I've been to, I envision myself covering those events--envying the photographers on the ground, wishing I was there, too.
With the camera on my shoulder, I'd hit the ground running, camera rolling, locked and loaded. There's nothing like that feeling. As a news photographer you run towards what everyone else is running from--thinking some how that the camera on your shoulder will protect you, not really caring if it will or not. Shots fired, shots framed. Sometimes, the images frame themselves. Scene after scene, the action moves through you like a funnel, capturing as much as you can, as fast as you can. All you can do is breathe, keep moving, breathe, keep your head low, breathe, keep moving, stay alive.
I miss those times. I miss the adrenaline. I miss the action. But then, reality kicks in. You feel your mothers pain as she sits in her living room watching every second unfold, knowing that her son is in the midst of it all. Your heart wrenches when your cell phone flashes the word "HOME" and you can't pick up. It might be the last chance you'll hear her voice, but if you answer, it might be the last thing you do while living. You begin to understand what it's like to be a parent, what it's like to worry. And that's why my days of slinging a lens amidst chaos are over--for now at least.
"Thank you for your prayers. We surely need them for us and every human being right now in places where terrorists are engaged."