Thursday, September 11, 2003

Hard to believe it's been two years since the September 11 attacks. I was working at Webnoize in Cambridge. We were all settled in for a day's work, when at about 8:50, Ric Dube comes over and says, "I think something just happened in New York." He was listening to Howard Stern as he does every day, and in the middle of a typical discussion about Pamela Anderson's boobs, they just stopped. Turns out they had a perfect view of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. So we switched from WMBR, the MIT station that we usually listened to in the mornings, to WBZ and sure enough, they were reporting that a plane hit the tower. Not long after, another plane hit and we knew this was more than just a messed-up accident. I sent Deb an email at school about it, and it turns out that was the first she'd heard about it.

And of course, everything unfolded from there. Our boss Tom had a cable-less TV in his office, so we were watching ABC when the towers fell. Even in fuzzy black and white, it was one of the most disturbing things I had ever seen live. Being an online publication, we were of course trying to get as much information as we could from sites like CNN.com, but Web traffic was overflowing at that time, as you can imagine. The irony was not lost on us, as we continued to listen to the AM radio for our information. Then we heard about Washington, and Pennsylvania, and speculated amongst ourselves that maybe something would happen on the West Coast later in the day. I was supposed to do an interview that afternoon with a guy at some dotcom out in LA; he called to reschedule and I asked him what the mood was like out there. Kind of a mixture of fear and uncertainty. Everything was happening so fast. They sent us home around noon, so I took the subway to North Station to catch a train back to Beverly. It was like rush hour. The place was packed like it was when I usually arrived there at 6:30 p.m. every day. I was waiting for the next train to Beverly when I saw a guy I play hockey with, so we hung out talking about how messed up everything was. I got back to Beverly around 2 and just started walking home; usually Deb would pick me up but I wasn't sure she was home and I didn't know when I would arrive. It's about a half-hour walk and about halfway there, Deb's mom Susan drove up and picked me up. I had left a voice mail at home when I left the office, so Deb (who wasn't home yet) got it and called her mom to see if she could find me. I spent the rest of the night like everyone else, glued to the tube for the latest. They were showing all the different footage of the planes hitting the towers and no matter how many times I saw it, I had to watch it again. It was just so unbelievable. It was tough for Deb and me, because we had just found out Deb was pregnant and we wondered what kind of fucked-up world we were bringing a child into.

The next day, I went to work because what the hell else was I going to do? Everything was really somber and low-key. I went to the gym and there were the usual 5:30 a.m. workout freaks there like myself, going through the motions. It was comforting, really, to do that. Walking from the train to work, I started feeling really conscious about being Indian, not knowing if people were looking at me differently because I wasn't white, because I looked a little like the terrorists. I even came up with a snappy reply if someone confronted me on it, but of course, nobody did. I did hear some horror stories about idiots attacking Sikhs and other south Asians in misguided revenge attempts, but fortunately I never dealt with anything overt like that. It was definitely a strange time to be an American, and an even stranger time to be an American who looked like me. Soon, a jingoistic fervor began whipping up, people driving down the street with huge flags in their trucks and the like, which also made me uncomfortable. I've never been the type to start chanting "USA, USA" at the Olympics or something. I love this country and never want to leave it, but blind faith in a flag is never a good idea for anyone.

Anyway, enough reflections for one day. How 'bout that Roy Halladay? He won his 20th game today for the Jays. Can you say Cy Young? And the Leafs signed Joe Nieuwendyk last night, which was a decent move. Now they need some defensive help.

All right, I'm done with the typing already. Later.

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