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  • mphelstrip

Let's celebrate our friends - today

We often take our friendships for granted. We assume that our friends will be still be there if we phone tomorrow rather than today, email them next week rather than tomorrow, meet up next month rather than this.

But life doesn’t run this smoothly, along grooves that we have pre-determined. Life is unpredictable, uncertain, given to seismic shifts when we least expect it. The pandemic has illustrated this clearly to us all.

Today, 26th November 2020, is the 12th anniversary of the Mumbai bomb attacks. What does that have to do with friendship? Well, I nearly lost a dear friend during the attacks on the Oberoi Hotel, and I am painfully reminded of that today.

My Australian friend Debra sent me a link to an article that she had written for SBS News ‘Insight’, detailing the events of those few dark days. Written from the perspective of one who had been caught up in the bomb attacks, trapped on the 19th floor of the hotel in the smoke and confusion, hiding behind a bed and covered over with duvet and cushions to try and avoid detection by the terrorists.

As I read Debra’s account and find detail that I hadn’t known previously, I weep for the terror my friend experienced and for the impact that it still has upon her today, all these years later.

Debra was simply enjoying a relaxing break before attending a business conference. I had stayed in the Oberoi Hotel myself in the past, and was looking forward to trading stories with her once she had returned home. But suddenly Debra was pitched into a nightmare with no end in sight.

Friendship helped to get Debra through those nightmare hours. The friendship of her colleague, sharing the nightmare with her; close friends sending texts and ‘knowing that people cared’; friendly hands extended to her daughter, far away in a remote part of Canada; friendly words from the Indian people who surrounded her and her colleague upon their release from the hotel.

Friendship is precious. Cherish your friends. They may not be there tomorrow, next week, next month. Debra survived – 170 people died, including one of her colleagues and a friend’s husband. I am honoured to be her friend, and I email her – today.



Michelle Helstrip

Founder of DRUVA

Debra’s account


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