Sept 11, 10 years back: An eye-witness account – Part 3

               …and we all wanted to reach our homes in New Jersey as soon as possible. When we were having lunch at McDonalds, I excitedly started talking about how there were previous attacks by Osama Bin Laden against the US and how he could be behind this. Our project manager quickly shushed me saying that it was best not to add to the rumours flying around during this critical time.

              As we started walking again towards Madison Square Garden, we saw lots of people sitting on the sidewalks. The streets increasingly looked like being swarmed with a band of refugees. That’s how I felt (Strangely enough, it also reminded me of India – I had not seen such huge number of people on the streets on foot anywhere in the US till then). Even as we were walking towards the train-station, I saw a number of fighter jets already in air. (Will there be a third World War? I thought as the sound of the fighter jets filled my ears)  You can read about them further here.

              Anyway, there’s not much to write about after that. We caught the trains and found them to be much more crowded than the other days. Out through the train window, when I saw the huge smoke billowing out from the towers and spreading in the New York skyline, I felt a surge of emotions. I felt incredibly sad at the loss of lives and the fall of the beautiful towers. I worried about the impact of this on world-events, whether there will be a war. And as it turned out later, there was one and is still going on. At the same time, I was thankful to be alive. On the way back home, the ride in the taxi cost us more than other days. (People are the same everywhere. It reminded me of those days back in India when some autorickshaw-drivers simply double their rates on Bandh or strike days).


              As an Indian in US, what did I learn from the carnage? I saw that people were quite disciplined even in these difficult circumstances. There were no pushing or pulling or shoving or name-calling…neither while evacuating the building nor in the streets, nor in the trains. The authorities were out there in no time and were working non-stop to help the civilians. There was even a lot of respect between the interactions of police and the crowds. Now, there are significant increases in security at the airports and there are no exceptions to this rule, whether you are a celebrity or a commoner. Also, I feel that people here value life more – be it the government or the average American. Just last week, (even after more than 10 years of the attacks), one of my colleagues went to the PA memorial on her way back from the hospital where her cancer-stricken 90-year old mother is. There was really no need for her to do so- She hadn’t lost anyone in the 9/11 attacks , I’m sure she had other pressing concerns weighing on her mind related to her mom’s health..but still she had the will and energy to drive to the memorial and pay respect to the lost souls.

              Of course, there are other lessons I learned from the incident :  Building something – be it a piece of architecture or a relationship – takes so much time and patience and human effort,while destroying that very thing is so easy and takes so less time. Also, life is a gift and we should spend each and every moment in the way we deem the best so that we have no regrets tomorrow. As the Hindi film song goes – ‘Har pal yahan jee bhar jeeyo, Jo hai samaa kal ho na ho.’ (English translation: Live every moment to the fullest, Whatever is here today – may or may not exist tomorrow).