Moments before the terror struck
It was a quieter than normal evening at house No. 5 on road No. 79 of Gulshan.
Situated right next to the Gulshan Lake and on a two-storied building with a manicured lawn, stepping into the premises of Holey Artisan Bakery and O Kitchen feels like walking into a parallel universe for Dhakaites.
With outdoor seating arrangement, delectable Mediterranean fare that are not available elsewhere in the country, attentive staff and an unhurried atmosphere, it a delightful place to spend a Friday evening. As is wont to happen, the establishment is extremely popular with expatriates and the city's well-heeled, who can afford the upmarket prices.
On weekends, the place is typically buzzing. In the morning, expatriates and locals alike come for a leisurely breakfast. Many bring their pet dogs along, who can be seen frolicking about in the expansive lawn, or rugs to make a little picnic out of the jaunt. As the sun sets, the tealights and lanterns are lit, transforming the venue into an enchanted garden.
This correspondent too chose to have dinner with friends at the restaurant on Friday after breaking fast less than an hour earlier. The place, which looked more charming than ever before basking in the dim lighting, was not packed for a weekend evening when the correspondent arrived at about 7:45pm. Looking back, it seems like the perfect lull before the storm.
Still, there were a handful of Westerners -- including a boisterous group -- Asians, interspersed with locals. Altogether, there were, maybe, 40 diners. Due to the searing temperatures, the majority were seated indoors, with very few outside. Conversations were flowing, with the clink of the cutlery providing the perfect background music.
Due to the low turnout, the service was very fast: the table ordered pizzas, which were served in less than 15 minutes. The thin-crusted, rustic-looking beef pizzas were devoured in next to no time, and the correspondent was out of the venue by 8:30pm, taking the party elsewhere. And about 8:45pm, the gunmen stormed into the venue, getting to the kitchen staff manning the wood-fired pizza oven first. He was let go after he established himself to be a Muslim.