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Back to five frozen minutes
6.23 to 6.28: Mumbai moves on but pauses to remember

6.23pm to 6.28pm, July 11, 2006.

The five minutes will stay frozen forever for some. On the first anniversary of the train blasts that killed 187 people in Mumbai, five recall where they were, then and now.

• Name: Kanaiyalal Nichani

• Age: 56

• Occupation: Insurance consultant

• 7/11, 2006: Nichani defied death by a whisker. He was on the Borivli fast local that was torn apart in Bandra at 6.23pm, killing 22 people. “I was just three doors away from death,” says Nichani, who was also witness to one of the 1993 serial blasts.

• 7/11, 2007: Nichani took the same train back home to Borivli. When he reached Bandra, he thought he heard the sound that made him shudder a year ago. “I cannot forget that sound. But I have learnt to deal with fear,” he says.

• Name: Georgina Morenas

• Age: 40

• Occupation: HR executive

• 7/11, 2006: Georgina was on the train that blew up in Matunga at 6.24pm. The first class compartment was immediately behind her coach. “I heard a loud bang. At first, I thought somebody was playing a prank with crackers. But then I saw people jumping out of the train,” she says. Georgina had dizzy spells soon after the blasts — a fallout, doctors said, of the trauma.

• 7/11, 2007: Georgina took the same train back home. “I have stopped worrying about these things. I was paranoid that it would happen again. But now I have realised that life goes on.”

• Name: Rajesh Prakash Lanjekar

• Age: 30

• Occupation: Sales coordinator, Discovery Channel

• 7/11, 2006: Lanjekar witnessed death from close quarters for the first time. He was on a train that was running adjacent to the Borivli fast that blew up in Mahim. “How can I forget those five minutes' I was listening to songs on my radio when I heard this earth-shattering sound. I jumped off the train and pulled 20-25 people out of the compartment which, by then, was soaked in blood.”

• 7/11, 2007: Lanjekar was one among the many Mumbaikars who prayed for the victims. “I went to the Mahalaxmi temple with my friends and offered prayers around the same time as the blasts.”

• Name: Pankaj Shah

• Age: 53

• Occupation: Diamond merchant

• 7/11, 2006: Shah was among the few who survived in the coach of the Borivli fast that exploded at Mahim. “Almost everyone was dead. Bodies were everywhere. I lost the capacity to hear in my right ear. I will have to live with this all my life,” says Shah.

• 7/11, 2007: Shah boarded the Borivli fast again. “I have no fears. Those five minutes changed my life, but I haven’t changed the way I live it.”

• Name: Velma Fernandes

• Age: 47

• Occupation: Executive, Bank of Maharashtra

• 7/11, 2006: Velma represents the thousands who died many deaths but will not make it to official records. Her brother-in-law and sister-in-law were out in the evening. “When you are at home and a thing like that happens, you think of all the gruesome things. My sister-in-law had two small children alone at home. I kept calling her, but to no avail. It was the most horrifying five minutes of my life.” Later, she found out both had escaped the blasts.

• 7/11, 2007: Her church held a Holy Hour from 6pm to 7pm. Velma was there to pray.

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