There are concentric rings of horror, and impact, around the events in Mumbai.
At its centre, with all else paling into insignficance, are the lives that have been lost and those injured. Then the impact on relatives and friends. Then on the people in the Jewish community, the companies involved, and others who knew those who died. Then the political impact on India, and between India and Pakistan - with its potential for further loss of life.
The sole aim of this post, trivial in comparison, is to try to convey to non-Indians, who have never been there, something of the importance the places that were attacked held in India. That can help to understand a small part of its impact and therefore judge the unfolding of events to come.
The Oberoi was a key business hotel. The Jewish community held an honoured place in Indian history as a symbol of the country's long tolerance. The Leopold Cafe I don't know.
The Taj Mahal Palace hotel is a landmark in Indian history - its' most famous hotel, and one of the most famous venues in India. It is the centre for events in India's financial capital and its interior discreetly carries in a display case photographs of innumerable presidents and prime ministers, as well as film stars and business leaders, who have stayed there.
The Taj Mahal Palace's historical significance is well summed up in The Creation of Wealth - the official history of the Tata firm which owns it, and which became one of the world's greatest companies:
'There is a colourful story that Jansetji [Tata - the founder of the Tata company] started a grand hotel in Bombay after an incident in when he was refused admission to a second rate Bombay hotel which was reserved "for European only". Sharada Dwivedi, which has researched the history of the Tajo Mahal Hotel, states that she has found no historical evidence for this report, though it is likely that there were hotels at the time that did refuse admission to Indians. Jansetji was too proud a man, she says, to visit such a hotel. It is more likely, she says, that he gave an outstanding hotel to his city because of his deep love for Bombay, a city he was proud of. From the day it opened the Taj Mahal was recognised as one of the best in the world. Jansetji's Taj venture is distinct from his other schemes. Unlike his other enterprises Jansetji did not calculate what it would cost.'
The Taj Mahal Palace symbolised excellence - India created something better than the British who ruled it. It was the same as with the notorious statement by Sir Frederick Upcott, then British Chief Commissioner for the Indian Railways: 'Do you mean to say that Tatas propose to make steel to British specification? Why, I will undertake to eat every pound of steel rail they succeed in making.'
This piece of racist and xenophobic arrogance received its fitting reposte in the Tata's long term development of the Indian steel industry, but then was finally swept away when last year Tata Steel finally took over Corus - the old British steel industry.
No one who is not Indian really can feel it fully but anyone who stayed in that hotel could sense something of what it meant in India's history. And why an attack on it was on one of the very symbols of India - which is why the Tata company announced already it would be rebuilt.
These were attacks involving horrific loss of life and are not only on the financial capital of India, but on one of its cultural nerve centres. To understand that combination explains why their impact will be so great.