Sunday, September 11, 2011

...and the world was never the same again

Someone wrote - "There cannot be many adults in the western world who do not remember where they were on September 11, 2001, specifically @9.03am."

Indeed. How could we?
That was one morning we all cannot forget.

I remember well that lazy Sunday morning.

I was in London (a few days' transit), preparing to leave for Moscow for an assignment.

I was with two other people - NST London correspondent Tony Emmanuel and Business Times editor Ahirudin Attan - at the New Straits Times apartment in Bayswater. To be precise I was watching TV with Tony while Ahirudin was in the kitchen making himself a cup of coffee.

It was so surreal, come to think of it. That morning.

Tony and I was watching the news. Saw the visuals. We thought it was a helicopter flying close to the World Trade Centre building. It didn't look like a huge airplane. Still, we were glued to the TV because the commentator spoke in hurried and excited tone.

Then, wham...we were stunned when everything just clashed, a movie. I think we were momentarily paralyzed.

By then, Ahirudin was with us. The air was then so palpable with our shouts and screams of shock and horror. Reality set in.

If there was a giant loudspeaker in space, earth would have emanated the chorus of the cacophony of shocked voices.

It was one crash after another.

And the world was never the same again.

We had arrived in London and had undergone the routine that visitors to the city had gone through for years. Until 9/11, departures from London were also mundane affairs.

Needless to say, our assignment to Moscow (PM Dr Mahathir's first official visit to Russia) was cancelled. Postponed, rather (because he made the trip a year later).

Our departure from London was nothing short of bizarre. Heathrow seemed like a crazy place. New rules were put in place and immediately effected. Customs checks were
maddeningly long because so many people had to unpack and/0r repacked because a lot of items that were allowed before had been banned in hand-carried bags.
I had to unpack and convert my bag into a checked-luggage. My habit of carrying extra luggage locks helped.

Life was never the same again for travellers, and especially those carrying Muslim names or looking Middle-eastern.

Even 10 years on. We're still picking up the torn and shredded pieces of 9/11.

To those who perished in the attacks - in the US and elsewhere (because of 9/11) - May you rest in peace.

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