Kalyan Bhaumik; Picture by Kalyan Bhaumik
Oct. 2: When Kalyan Bhaumik, a 46-year-old lawyer from Ballygunge, returned to Paris Las Vegas, the casino resort where he was booked on Sunday night, the streets were "as crowded as Calcutta on Ashtami night".
But as he spoke to The Telegraph, from the 28th floor of his hotel in the middle of the Strip, the most happening stretch in Las Vegas, less than five hours later, sirens were wailing and helicopters hovered in the sky. The deadliest shooting in modern American history had unfolded a few blocks away.
Bhaumik and his wife had flown into Vegas that afternoon itself from Washington DC on a holiday. "We checked into the hotel and went for a walk on the Strip late in the evening. At the time of the shooting, we were near Bellagio, another resort. But frankly, we did not notice anything till we were back at the hotel. I had just turned on the BBC channel when the public address system in the room crackled to life. 'Do not go outside; report any suspicious activity to the main desk,' the voice said. Before long, the streets downstairs became deserted but for the wail of sirens. "It was as eerie as in a Hollywood flick."
Calls started coming from India as also friends from other parts of the US via WhatsApp. "But I was too scared to make or take calls on the room's landline. There is no knowing what leads to what in troubled times." He was worried that the hotel's WiFi might be shut down.
All night, Bhaumik stayed up, tracking news on the net as his wife caught 40 winks. "We might return to DC if the situation so demands. Who knows if things will aggravate or cool down," he messaged this newspaper, as the death toll escalated. His India flight is booked from Washington.
But as the hours passed and the Las Vegas Police Department tweeted news of the elimination of the gunman, optimism dawned.
At 6am, he was booked for a Grand Canyon bus ride and he was determined to make good his vacation.
"Many of the roads are cordoned off but the bus service just told us that they will take us on the tour even if there's just the two of us," he messaged.