Thursday, as a gunman held a hostage in the Estonian Ministry of Defense down the street and my staff and I found ourselves moving away from the windows as instructed, one of my Estonian colleagues kept saying in disbelief, "This is so un-Estonian. This is so un-Estonian." It was Day Ten.
Ten days after I started in the office in Mumbai, The Attacks happened. Not remotely the same experience as a gunman in a Ministry that was quickly evacuated and surrounded by a SWAT team, of course. But I had a bit of a flashback, and I'm pretty sure at least one person in Washington blamed me, because, really, this doesn't happen here. In fact, I know at least one person in Washington blamed me, because I had a phone call that mostly consisted of, "Rachel! What did you do? This is so un-Estonian!" Mea culpa.
Of course, as all of us worked through the event, the overriding feeling, nagging in back of our heads and at times showing up in a quickened heartbeat or a sharp word, is: of course it can happen here. It can happen anywhere. It can happen in New York, Washington, a field in Pennsylvania. It can happen in Oklahoma City and Oslo. It can happen. It can happen in London, Madrid, Moscow, and Minsk. It happens almost daily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. I watched it happen in Mumbai. It can happen on a subway in Japan. It can happen in Littleton, Colorado.
So there we are. Everyone is safe, except for the gunman, so in the big scheme of things it could have been much worse. Life trucks along.