Terror can't scare away Leopold fans

Terror can't scare away Leopold fans

Terror can't scare away Leopold fans

As waiters go about filling empty beer mugs and carry large trays laden with delicious sandwiches and burgers on a busy Sunday evening, no one may  look at the frame.

But when you learn that the holes highlighted by the frame are bullet marks — a chilling reminder of the terror attacks that rocked the city a year ago — you may probably realise why no one wants to look at the wall.

“It was a terrible nightmare we would like to forget,” said a Leopold regular munching a piece of fish and chips. “Until the attacks, this had been the safest place one could visit in the city. It’s fun watching people talk animatedly in tongues you don’t understand. That should be the memory of Leopold, not the bullet marks,” he said, pointing at the frame.

One of the few Parsi-run restaurants that managed to retain its cosmopolitan style and cuisine, Leopold was a place on the route the terrorists took from Victoria Terminus (that’s how people here still call the CST) and Kama Hospital (where Hemant Karkare and his fellow officers were shot).

“It is still puzzling how they managed to enter here despite the cops being close by (the Colaba police station is located on the other side of the road),” said Kanchan, a lawyer who frequents the restaurant.

“This is the place where a girl like me can sit for hours, have a beer or two and remain undisturbed even if I choose to stay the whole night. I wouldn’t like to forget the attack, but the fact that the energy and vitality of the place have not been lost should send the message to terrorists that they cannot panic us and create chaos in the city,” she added.

Indelible marks

But Kanchan agrees that the incidents of November 26, 2008, has left indelible marks on people’s lives just as the bullet marks on the wall. “Imagine the shock people would have experienced when the terrorists attacked suddenly from the main entrance,” she said, pointing at the main door beyond which we could see vehicles and pedestrians.

“There’s no way one could escape, except ducking under the table. Perhaps they (the terrorists) knew that an attack on this place would cause more chaos,” Kanchan said.

“It’s nice to see the place packed with people, just the way it has to be,” said Ramkrishna, a bank official who frequents Leopold. “But unfortunately, the attack on Leopold has shattered any semblance of security we may have had. It looks like we’ve got to live with the fact that we are vulnerable to attacks, and it could happen virtually anywhere,” he said.