It started off as a casual dinner party for friends but ended in horror as an Indian couple waited for the first rays of sunlight to end their nightmare of being trapped in an Istanbul under fire.
When a dissident faction in Turkey’s military attempted to seize power from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday with tanks and air support and shut down state broadcasters, the government limited internet access for social media sites as part of its measures to assert control, making it difficult for people to know what was happening.
But for Geeta, a 34-year-old woman from New Delhi, who did not want to use her real name, the information black-out made matters worse.
“It was the worst nightmare and we were waiting for the first trickle of light so that things could get back to normal,” Geeta told Hindustan Times.
“Our lights were all switched off and we were speaking in whispers, lest anyone hear us because we could feel the military presence outside,” the stay-at-home mother of a three-year-old said.
Geeta and her husband are part of the 250-odd Indians in Turkey, mostly professionals and their families living and working in Istanbul and Ankara.
Military jets flew very low, triggering sonic booms that added to the fear.
“As a mother, you feel so hopeless. I started thinking about the women in Afghanistan and what they must be going through.”
Geeta said a WhatsApp group of about 70 women helped her get through the night.
“It was a wonderful group and we all helped each other. It’s made up of very determined women who love Turkey and who said no matter what, we will move on.”
Istanbul has suffered at least four terror attacks since Geeta moved to the city last October, but she says there are many like her who are committed to staying on.
“Your safety is not guaranteed anywhere in the world. You just have to be calm and alert,” she said.