If not for a fateful decision to order coffee after dinner, the Lake Forest couple might have been caught in the middle of gunfire in the lobby of the Oberoi Hotel last Wednesday night.
They are back home, thankful to be alive but still shaken by their experience.
As police surrounded the area, bomb blasts echoed through the city. Locked inside the kitchen area of a restaurant in the hotel were Deepak and Himani Dalia of Lake Forest. They have gone several days with little sleep, arriving safely in Chicago Monday morning with the memory of their ordeal still fresh.
"Cuold not do anything other than just pray and hope that we would come out clear and that we were very lucky," said Dr. Deepak Dalia.
They had just finished dinner and lingered to take pictures in the restaurant while their 15-month-old granddaughter played. The extra few minutes may have saved their lives. They planned to go to the lobby after dinner. Instead, they heard the gunfire and went for cover while the staff locked the doors.
"They took us and immediately closed all the entrances and everything to it. And we had no idea what was going on," said Deepak Dalia.
"Everybody was really panicking and scared, not knowing what was exactly going on. Of course, we heard the bomb blast," said Dr. Himani Dalia.
They hid for about two hours, getting updates from the outside on cell phones while hearing the commotion all around them. Then they managed to sneak out a fire escape. Police then directed them to safety outside. For the next three days, they remained glued to the television, watching the terror unfold. The couple, who were both born in India and visit often, were still stunned.
"Panicky, frustrated, angry, and the blame, who do you blame? I mean, it's just terrorism," said Deepak Dalia.
"We just really thank God," said Himani Dalia.
The couple has a lot of family living in India. And they say despite their experience, they will return, although it may be awhile. They say they believe the Indian authorities handled the situation as well as possible under the circumstances.