At around 3 pm on a December day last year, I get a call from Karthik. He happened to be in Mumbai and wanted to see if I had time in the evening to meet him.

Tempting.

He loved South Mumbai and so did I. I had wanted to take him to Cafe Mondegar and Leopold. So we made a tentative plan to meet at Churchgate, but then there was this important call with a US customer at 8pm that came up out of the blue. So our little plan never got off the ground.

I finished my call and went home.

While I was changing, Karthik called me up again and said in his usual dramatic way, “Machhan, they are taking over Mumbai. It is a full frontal attack! It is war!”

Err. What? If I remembered right, my annual appraisal was already over and I was already mutilated from that war.

“There are these 20 terrorists with AK 47 and other machine guns, all over the city, firing away at anything and anyone that caught their fancy!”

Now what is that about?

As I turned on the TV, I see NDTV reporting the deadly news of a terrorist attack all across South Mumbai.

Including a mad spray of bullets right into the Leopold Cafe, right at the people inside.

Leopold Cafe. Yes. Right at the very same place Karthik and I had planned to be at, the very same evening.

Phew. That was close.

Close, for sure. Be that as it may, several others who didn’t have an 8’oclock call were there and had bullets rip them apart and had lost their lives for no fault of theirs. These were the hardworking folks who came to Leopold Cafe for a relaxing few hours in the evening.

Soon enough, all but one of those terrorists also died.

Creepily enough, last week I had planned to go to NYC – Times Square was beckoning since I hadn’t enough time for TS the last time I was in NYC. Sure enough my good old friend Om tempted me to a visit to Hartford, and so I had to give NYC a miss.

And they found a SUV with crap in it that didn’t go off as planned. Right at Times Square. Right on the same weekend.

Another terrorist attack, another close shave.

You might think this is about me.

It is not. This is the life all of us lead. It is up to weird ways our days pan out that will decide the time and place we would be at any time. Mad idiots are blowing up buildings, shooting people and causing mayhem.

We live a life of chance.

Tim, my new friend, pointed me to this funny, but very insightful video about Ahhhhmed the dead terrorist.

And I would like to quote a line from Tim that is seemingly simple, but deep enough to give us reason to make a new world.

Religion seems to foment disagreements

But those of us alive today, can laugh to this.

But Alas, not Ahmed. He can’t laugh. Besides, he is also very dead. Like those other terrorists that had come to Mumbai.

But you and I can still laugh.

Those are the benefits of miraculously not being at Leopold Cafe on 26/11. In Connought Place, New Delhi last year. Or at Times Square last weekend.

We can laugh. And cough up phlegm.

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