Three Caribbean nations — Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago — have substantial populations of Indian origin, and many of the region's anglophone territories have cultural links with India rooted in British colonialism. (Cricket — the "national" sport of both the West Indies and India — is the most obvious manifestation.) Unsurprisingly, many people in the Caribbean — bloggers included — have been closely following the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai with anxiety and consternation.
As news of the horrific events spread on the evening of Wednesday 26 November, MediaCritic at Living Guyana wondered how the Guyanese media would cover the Mumbai attacks:
If 80 people were killed in five separate attacks in any single US city it would be the leading news item in the local television newscasts.
Let us see if the local newscasts lead with this or if they shuffle it down in their international news segment or if they opt to cover it at all.
For Ian Ramjohn, a Trinidadian living in the United States, the situation in Mumbai reminded him , disturbingly, of the 1990 attempted coup in which Trinidad and Tobago's prime minister and others were held hostage and the city of Port of Spain suffered severe damage. "It’s a little bit like re-living the most traumatic experience of your life. Not quite re-living it, but kinda," he said. He reflected further:
We are victims of our own experience. I am unable to see the events that are happening in Mumbai through any filter other than my own experience. It may serve me badly or it may serve me well…. the thing that struck me about the Mumbai police were there in riot helmets, armed with antique rifles. Probably more than adequate for crowd control in the city (although, again, I was struck by the fact that the face plates were mesh, not plastic), but no match for AKs and grenades. And once again I was reminded of the coup.
Annie Paul, an Indian writer and critic who lives in Jamaica, posted an excerpt from a Facebook conversation which she "overheard" — a discussion among a group of young Indians about their country's priorities, in light of the Mumbai attacks. It begins: "It is high time India stops sending missions to the moon and starts focusing on national security…." The Guyana Providence Stadium blog made a similar point:
Seems like total chaos, disorganization and misinformation being bandied around in India — this is the impression being painted on CNN…. Is this the same India that just sent a rocket to the moon?
And Bermudan blogger Jonnystar, currently studying in Britain, described the reactions of students in his postgraduate housing, including "a large number of Pakistani and Indian nationals":
Nationals of both states huddled together in front of computer screens and the televisions at the nearby student pub, in a mix of horror, silent contemplation and frantic attempts to contact family and friends living, working, studying or otherwise visiting Mumbai….
Ironic in our modern technological society that we in Edinburgh were at times better informed than those in Mumbai itself. For a while students here served as centres for relaying information and compiling lists of who’s injured, what hospital they were at, who’s okay and were they are and so on. And then of course the cellphone network in Mumbai either collapsed due to traffic or was disabled by the authorities, we don’t know.
He added: "There are no signs of tension between the Indian and Pakistani students here, only shared concern and disgust at these atrocities."