Memories of 9/11

By: Wahokia

Sep 12 2011

Category: South Venice Beach, Fla.

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Focal Length:62mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D7000
I was in Kathmandu for 9/11. My friend Randy was leading a prayer retreat in Nepal for Christian workers from Central and Southern Asia. We had talked of traveling together for years and I had looked forward to this trip for months … After Nepal we were to go on to Bhutan. The last day of the retreat Randy and I met for breakfast in a restaurant above a garden. I asked him how he planned to wrap it up … “I don’t know,” he responded … What do you mean? I asked … “I am troubled. There is war in the heavenlies and I just can’t do what I planned to do today.”… When everyone gathered, Randy began by repeating what he had told me and asked everyone to pray for guidance … We began to pray … Snacks and juice were rolled in for a break that morning and no one moved … Lunch came … Again no one stirred …. Yet another break came and went … Only a shifting of bodies and the clatter of carts marked the passage of time … Finally Randy called an end … There were no grand insights — no revelations — yet each of us felt we had participated in something profound … Walking back to the hotel after dinner, a shopkeeper I had purchased a pair of earrings from for my wife a few days earlier hustled into the street and grabbed my arm. He pulled me into his shop. On the counter was a small, black and white television … We squinted at a fuzzy image that faded in and out. One of the twin towers was on fire. While we puzzled over this, a plane flew into the second tower … I headed for the hotel … We gathered in groups, wandering from room-to-room, watching different broadcasts. Those from Central Asia learned they weren’t going home. They would meet their spouses and families elsewhere … One learned her spouse was on a trip, on horseback in the mountains, another that her husband would wait for him so that when he rode out and he wouldn’t find an empty house … Telephone connections were out and the Internet was overwhelmed. A woman I had never seen before appeared at the door and asked for me. A colleague from home told her to search for me —to lay eyes on me — so that he could report to my wife I was safe … When I finally talked with my wife a day or two later she said, “It is so quiet. No one is moving around much. There are no planes in the sky. Military helicopters are flying over our neighborhood. It’s strange.” … There was no going home. Randy and I continued on our trip into Bhutan … When we returned to Kathmandu a week later, airline schedules were still in chaos. Randy had to race for his flight east across the Pacific toward home. I spent 10 hours waiting for a flight into India, and another 12 in New Delhi for a flight to meet colleagues in Paris. It would be days yet before I got home … While in Delhi, I watched flight after flight canceled, and my departure pushed back hour after hour. A man sitting across from me made me uncomfortable … Every time I looked up he was staring at me. I almost moved … He rose, crossed the aisle, sat two seats from me, turned and asked … “Are you an American?” … Yes … “I’m a Muslim,” he said … “I just want you to know we’re not all like that.”

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