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Thank God! Jason & Jenny aren't coming here

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AMIT ROY   |   London   |   Published 22.12.08, 12:00 AM

London, Dec. 22: Jason Cairns-Lawrence and his partner Jenny are not thinking of coming to Calcutta on holiday in the near future, which should come as a relief to its good people, welcoming though they are to foreign tourists.

This is because “stuff happens” wherever Jason, 42, and Jenny, 26, go on holiday.

The couple, who come from the Midlands in England, happened to be in Mumbai, staying in the Colaba area, when the city was attacked by terrorists on the night of November 26. Nearly 180 people were killed.

Jason, a sales agent with a metal plating company in Birmingham, and Jenny, a dental laboratory worker, also happened to be enjoying a break in the Big Apple when hijackers flew into the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. An estimated 3,000 people perished when the twin towers came tumbling down in images that defined the Bush presidency.

“Where shall we go on holiday next that is safe?” they wondered. “We know what, let’s go to London.”

So they made for London on July 7, 2005, the day four young British suicide bombers brought tragedy to the Underground and bus network. The death toll was 52, while 700 were injured.

Mumbai should be fun, th-ey thought, as they bought tickets for India.

Some would say that it is just as well for Jenny that she isn’t living in the Middle Ages.

“I shouldn’t be laughing about it but it is some strange coincidence for sure,” she said. “The terror attacks just happened when we were in the cities. Maybe, we will think about putting it down on paper some day, but neither of us is a good writer.”

Tourist boards all over the world will now probably pay them not to come. But the “terror holidays” unwittingly experienced by Jason and Jenny grabbed the attention yesterday of the media in the UK. A report in the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham has been followed up by Sky News as well as several national papers.

But the credit for uncovering their story rightly belongs to the local DNA newspaper whose reporter chanced upon Jason and Jenny in Mumbai and reported his conversation with them on December 3.

“A young English couple who’ve been caught in 9/11, the London bombings and 26/11, marvel at Mumbai’s resilience,” the paper reported.

Jason said: “I will say that Mumbai sprung back on its feet faster than New York or London. New York took almost a week to come back to normal. But I see that Mumbai was back to its usual business from Day 3. This is amazing.”

Jenny said: “I can’t imagine somebody opening his shop the next day (after) his brother was felled by terrorists. He looks sad but he is ready to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. As I look around, it’s impossible to tell that such a ghastly thing had happened. In New York, people carried the look of terror in their eyes for weeks after the carnage. In London, the police appeared more scared than the people.”

Jason added: “There’s something that’s missing in Mumbai which wasn’t missing in New York or London. That is terror.”

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