We are staying put, say Mumbai expat teachers

5th December 2008 at 00:00

British teachers working in Mumbai have spoken of their fear at being caught up in last week's terror attacks on the Indian city, which killed close to 200 people.

The state government of Maharashtra, the region which includes Mumbai, shut down all schools last Thursday and Friday in the wake of the bombings. Schools reopened on Monday.

Teachers affected by the blasts included Jo Wilcox and her husband Rob, who moved out to India's economic capital in July to take up posts at the Dhirubhai Ambani International school.

"The last few days have been very surreal for us," said Mrs Wilcox, who teaches English. "There is fear and shock, and we initially thought about moving elsewhere but we have decided to stay. This sort of thing has happened in New York and London, and any major city could be a target."

Mrs Wilcox and her husband, who teaches psychology, said Mumbai was still a relatively safe place to live and work.

"We haven't had any hassle and we feel safe," Mrs Wilcox said. "It was a relief to get back to school and try to carry on as normal.

"The assembly on the first day back was very sombre, though."

The Dhirubhai Ambani International school teaches about 1,000 pupils aged between four and 18. It is one of Mumbai's most upmarket schools and home to a number of children with famous parents, including some members of the Indian cricket team and Bollywood film stars.

Mrs Wilcox said the school employed about 10 British teachers - out of 160 - who all live in the same area of the city. She added: "Some people are more worried than others about the situation.

"Schools were closed at the end of last week and the British teachers hung around together to discuss the events. It was a bit like the Blitz spirit."

Lon McDaniel who also teaches at the school, said he will stay.

"When the school reopened, we spent a lot of time talking about the events and the trauma," he said. "About 80 per cent of the kids know somebody who has been hurt or killed. The city is fairly resilient but things are a bit down at the moment."

Mr McDaniel, who teaches history, said a number of children had lost parents or relatives in the series of blasts, which killed 172 people after attacks on multiple locations, including the city's train station and two exclusive hotels, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi.

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