When President Barack Obama, speaking at Gateway of India on Saturday, referred to the tenacity of Mumbai, a city that gathered itself up and got back on its feet almost immediately after the attacks, Farang Jehani, 47, felt his chest swell with pride.
His Leopold Café and Bar, where 10 people were killed on November 26, 2008, reopened the next day — a deliberate statement that neither he nor his city would be cowed.
Nearly two years later, Farang and his brother Farzad, co-owners of the popular Colaba café, sat in the audience during Obama’s tribute speech, the President’s first public address on Indian soil.
In the audience were other 26/11 survivors, including Taj Mahal Palace General Manager Karambir Kang, who lost his family in the attack, and Central Railway announcer Vishnu Zende, who was on duty at CST and saved lives by directing people away from the terrorists with his announcements.
“I was not disappointed that the President did not mention Pakistan in his speech,” Jehani said. “There are diplomatic ways of putting things, and everyone knew who he was talking about. He didn't need to mention who was behind the attack.”
Jehani says he saw the President's speech as an affirmation of the US’s will to help India fight terrorism.
“He acknowledged every Indian who helped others during the siege, by saying we weren't held back by caste, creed or religion, that we held together when we as a nation were attacked,” said Jehani. “I think his speech was extremely positive and signalled a growing friendship between India and the United States.”