Dec 2, 2008

India - “Punjabi dress came to my rescue”

Rahi Gaikwad

Mumbai: Line Kristin Woldbeck, in her 30s from Norway, is among the few at Leopold Café who had a miraculous escape. She thinks she may have survived because of her Indian attire. Terrorists sprayed bullets into the popular café, killing two waiters and six customers on Wednesday night.

“I think I was saved because I was wearing a Punjabi dress and my scarf had fallen over my head. My Indian friend had worn European clothes. She was shot,” says Line as she waits to meet her badly injured boyfriend Arne Stromme.

For her, the evening of November 26 had full promise of a good time ahead. “I was at Leopold at 8 p.m. with an Indian friend and was waiting for my boyfriend to arrive. He arrived later. All of a sudden the firing started. I shouted, ‘get down.’ I pulled my friend along with me. The three of us went under the table. We lay still and pretended to be dead.”

After that initial round of gunshots, there was a lull for a short while. Then, “they came and started firing again. Everything was flying; there were glass pieces around. They came back the third time. This time, I held my friend and my boyfriend. I was in between. Suddenly, I felt the body of my friend convulse and I immediately knew that she was shot at and that she was dead. Then, my boyfriend got hit in the face. He said, “I have lost my fingers and my face is gone!” I could feel blood flowing. Someone kept calling out for the ambulance. I raised my head and saw a waiter mopping the floor and none making phone calls. There were bodies all around and he was mopping the floor!”

According to Line, the ordeal lasted 45 minutes. There was no help or police presence for about 30 minutes. As they were lying motionless, Line turned and saw the terrorist. “I saw big automatic rifles. He seemed to look past me. He may have seen me. Since my hair [golden] was covered with blood, it must have looked dark. ‘Do not breathe,’ I whispered to my boyfriend.” They lay like that for 15 minutes when some shouts were heard. However, this time it was the military police. “We could not believe that help had arrived.”

The two were taken to GT hospital. Line has no regrets about coming to India. She empathises with the tragedy of the city.

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