Thursday, September 11, 2008

My 9-11

Somewhere on the radio, I had heard that every baby boomer remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when they had heard the news of the assassination of JFK. I didn't get it. Then came Sept 11, 2001. Post boomer-era we all remember where we were, don't we?

I was in Springfield, Virginia (a suburb of DC) I was to fly out that evening for Chicago, for a week's vacation with mom. Brother and sister-in-law were to fly out to Italy the following day. As, the news started to come in, sadness filled me. You could see the skies filled with dark smoke, from where Flight 77 had hit Pentagon. For tens of miles, traffic was at gridlock. Everyone was evacuating the city, most immobilized in their cars.

After a torturous hour and a half of drive home, news came in that all airports are shut down, all planes grounded. Ok, it made sense, but for one lonely soul that meant being stuck at home on vacation, NOT. It was like a upcoming jail sentence. Then, I decided to take matters in my own hands.

Mom and brother forbid me to drive down, I didn't know what to do. I kept wondering why the hell not? Why would someone hit one lonely car driving on I-80/90? But I gave up under pressure and that 'fear factor.' The WHAT-IF? Sitting at home that evening and all day next, I got more vindictive. I decided to call up Greyhound bus service and booked a ticket. I took a cab to a south DC and got on the bus at 6pm. I was told, I would change one bus and be in Chicago the next morning. Fair enough.

I sat in the first seat, beside an old lady. Gosh... she was traveling to Seattle from DC - a bus journey that would take her 5 days and 5 bus changes! I didn't feel so bad. Then came the long ride, somehow the bus was re-routed, and we were told to change another bus, to get to our next bus change. Just my gosh darn luck!

So, we were dropped off somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in a bus depot. It was around 130am. The next bus would come at 4am - so we were told. There were at least six bus loads of passengers dropped here, only the first bus would come at 4. We waited in line, for what felt like eternity. Finally, I was able to get on the third bus, which came at 5:30. Oh did I tell you I was lugging the old lady's luggage along with mine(?) That bus took us to another unknown town.

Another line, another wait. This time, it was even harder since I had had no sleep, no food! I was high on coffee and adrenalin. The bus came, and everyone jumped like it was the end of the world. I failed. Next bus, I was a bit smarter, having watched what the predecessors had done. I played the "senior citizen" card with the old lady and jumped on with her. Idiots fell for it. She was Korean, I Indian...

The bus arrived in Chicago's greyhound station around 3:30pm, and after having put the old lady on her next adventure, I took a cab home. Home sweet home. It was a whole 22 hours worth and a life time's worth of adventure. Now the question arose, how the hell would I get back home? Planes were still grounded, I was not allowed to drive, still. Then came a brilliant idea.... I took the train home! Since I had suffered enough on the way to Chicago, I decided to treat myself to a first class cabin on an Amtrak train. It was awesome... I had my own bathroom, and mints on my pillows! Bathroom? Did I mention, you had to sit on the pot to take a shower? Yep that was a first :-D

That's what I recall, each year, every year since 2001. The day when Goon-LADEN ruined my vacation. On this day, anniversary of the 911 episode, I imagine what all the victims in the Twin Towers and Pentagon were going through... and how one little me had just one tiny episode with the public transport system. I survived, most of them didn't. In memory of those that fell, I wish their families the best.

P.S. Since then, never have I taken a bus or a train anywhere. Why you ask? Well, I am brown, I get a privileged treatment on Airports. 90% of the time, I get the "S" on my card. They call it random SECURITY check. I call it Racial Profiling! But the best part is, I never have to stand in those long security lines. Some of us have one line, open and clear just for us. ***Thanks Bin Laden!


*Aham* said...

Bollywood and Hollywood is feasting on tragedy. Alls good if they do something for the cause.

in india, we are entering a difficult phase. a phase where we are getting used to terror, getting used to pain... much that i am tension free. and have already written a letter and kept it in my cupboard locker... of what i wanted to do, and what i want my family to do in case i die.

So thats where we are. preparedness for combating terror. NO. Preparedness for death. YES


ek-ladki-anjaani-si said...

First and foremost, it was great chatting with you Aham! Now getting back to business, why are "WE" getting used to terror? Wouldn't that be an Oxymoron? What point of terrorists if they don't scare us?

Prepared YOU are... but fight the terror, with your writings perhaps! You are the best writer I have run into EVER! Considered writing for a living?

Hai muscular, hai popular, hai spectacular, hai dimple-cular! But, Aham should write SAALA! He should write for a living SAALA...