As the latest terror attacks unfolded in Paris, software professional Gaurav Rathi could hardly believe it was the same city which he has been staying in for the last two months.
Rathi, a resident of Chinchwad, got to know of the attacks when his panic-stricken family called him from India. “It was 2.30 am here when I got the call. They had just seen the news of terror attack on the television and wanted to know if I am alright,” he said.
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Rathi, who stays a few kilometres away from the sites of the terror attacks, said he was shocked to hear the news.
This would be the fourth onsite assignment for Rathi, who is accompanied by three of his colleagues from Pune. All four are reported to be safe.
“Paris as a city and France as a country has always been quite safe. During my previous sojourns also, I felt safe in the city,” Rathi said.
Rathi, like others in the French capital, would be spending the weekend indoors as advised by the French authorities. On most weekends, Rathi said, he and his friends explore various corners of the beautiful city.
Stationed in Paris for a year, Rathi has plans to get his wife and daughter there too. Asked if his plans still stood, Rathi replied in the affirmative. “They will be joining me early next year,” he said, hoping things will get normal soon.
Pune-based LASIK eye surgeon Dr Vardhaman Kankariya, who owns Asian Eye Hospital and finds a place in Limca Book of Records for the maximum number of LASIK surgeries in a day, is also in Paris with his wife Shrutika and daughter. While he couldn’t be reached over the phone by The Indian Express, his mother Dr Sudha Kankariya confirmed he was on the outskirts of Paris and safe. “I spoke to him on Saturday morning and they are fine. They plan to return as soon as possible.”
On his Facebook account, Dr Vardhaman Kankariya sought to allay fears of friends and family by posting a status message about his safety which read, “Dear family and friends, thank you for your concern and enquiries. Me, shrutika and Smira are safe. We are still in Paris and would let you know what we decide. Regards Vardhaman”.
The terror attack in Paris was also a rude shock for city-based model coordinator and fashion photographer Sonali Mhalgi, whose sister and friends stay in France. While her sister stays in the fashionable French Riveria, her friends were in Paris. “We got a short message from my friend Alexandra saying she was fine. After that, we have not head anything from them,”she said.
Mhalgi last visited Paris three years ago.
France in general and Paris in particular has been a favoured destination for many travellers from Pune and India. Madhavan Menon, managing director Thomas Cook India, said they working in close coordination with on-ground tour managers and partners in France. “Our customer and tour manager in Paris are safe and we are in contact with them to ensure their safety and return back to their home cities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pune district collector Sourabh Rao said they had not received any untoward report of Puneities being stranded or affected in the terror attacks in Paris.