After Mumbai: fear of railway station terror

I made a rare visit to our office in London on Wednesday. A journey that I used to make every day has succumbed to virtual working.

Not for the first time, I had to steel myself to step though the platform barrier on to the concourse of Waterloo Station. It’s such a short distance to reach the escalators leading to the street, yet I have no stomach for it – too many people bustling about and the space is as flat and open as a Normandy beach.

They say that the sound of an AK47 lacks the ear-splitting urgency that its function demands. It’s only when people start falling and the blood flowing that panic takes over.

How would I react? Run in fear? Freeze to the spot? Calmly take cover and assess the situation?

Would this become life’s defining and last act – the impulsive decision to tackle the gunman in a suicide dash. Perhaps even assemble volunteers of like mind to improve the odds by weight of numbers, in the style of United 93 or the British cavalry.

Or maybe I am felled with the others, my final moments level with the pools of blood and shattered Christmas decorations, with ridiculous ringtones the anthem to purgatory.

Small wonder that relief is intoxicating as the escalator takes me below the sightline. Never before has the chaos of Waterloo Road seemed so reassuring.

More people were killed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus than at any of the other venues attacked by terrorists last week in Mumbai. The media chose to focus on the luxury hotel dramas for their own reasons.

There has been talk of India losing its hard won global prestige, of being shunned by investors and as a sporting venue. This is plain nonsense. We all have a potential CST close by and we make our daily pilgrimage in solidarity with those who lost their lives and those who will take India forward in defiance of these crimes.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK