I hear that my ex-husband, Alex, has got engaged. I’m really happy for him, not least because the last time I saw him was on TV, looking shaken. He had just had a very lucky escape from armed gunmen, and was talking about his experiences to a news channel.
It was pretty surreal seeing him on screen as, at the time – November – I was in a hotel room in Dubai, on holiday. It turns out that he had got caught up in the terror attacks in Mumbai many miles away. I watched the screen, transfixed. He told a reporter how gunmen at the Oberoi hotel, where he had been dining, had taken him and other people captive and frogmarched them up the stairs towards the roof.
Alex had realised – rightly as it turns out – that if he followed the terrorists’ orders, to go all the way up to the roof, he and his fellow hostages might be shot. Instead, after climbing a few flights, he and another man eventually managed to slip away down the smoke-filled fire escape to safety.
When I finally managed to speak to him, when he had escaped the barrage of media interest and phone calls, I realised just how shaken up Alex was. He told me Rohinton Maloo, a friend and business associate, who he had been with earlier at the hotel had been shot dead. He was thoroughly and understandably traumatised by the whole experience.
Being part of the British Red Cross, which sent a team to Mumbai to support victims of the attacks, I now realise on a very personal level, how valuable that support is in an emergency. Alex was lucky enough to know Mumbai well and have a network of people he knew close at hand to support him, but other victims had the Red Cross to lean on.
Find out more about the work of our psychosocial support teams.