Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sad Day

Today precisely five years ago, suicide bombers detonated their ball-bearing packed bomb belts in the Grand Hyatt Amman. In simultaneous attacks, the Radisson and Days Inn hotels were attacked. I have always thought the Days Inn attack was a terrible piece of black humour - I think they were supposed to attack the Holiday Inn and got it wrong. The Days Inn is hardly high profile...

The lobby and all-day dining area of the Hyatt were completely decimated. Our offices at the time were in the Zara Center, part of the Hyatt complex - and a friend was standing at reception when the bombs detonated, the concussion wave tearing out the front glass panels and doors of the hotel and miraculously leaving her unscathed. Sixty others weren't so lucky - they lost their lives.

A week after the bombing I flew to Amman in support of an art exhibition to protest the bombing and remember the victims, 'Into the Light' - two of the pieces from that exhibition still decorate my house, fantastic, clever black and white calligraphies of the names of the victims. I felt very brave coming out and then very silly for feeling brave, but it was a time of great trepidation.

I'm sitting in the new Hyatt lobby typing this just before I head for the airport. It's a  wonderful act of continuance and defiance. All the waiters are different, many of the chaps I knew for so long before didn't make it through that night. But the lobby's funky, enlarged, the restaurant's bustling and stylish and the bombing is so far behind us that I was shocked to see its anniversary in today's Jordan times and stand looking out of the back of the lobby feeling sad for all those poor people.

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