My memory of 9/11 is vivid.

It was early evening in Bombay, India and I was making a presentation to a client.  Someone barged in to switch on the TV saying that the Twin Towers in New York had been attacked. None of us paid much attention and the TV wasn’t working so we went back to the sales pitch.

Watching the second plane hit the Twin Towers

I finished soon and walked back to my office nearby. At my desk I saw many email alerts from CNN reporting the attacks. I started reading but I don’t think it had sunk in. Then my wife called and told me a plane had crashed into one of the Towers. I rushed home. As I walked in, I watched in horror as the second plane crashed. Uncannily while writing this looking for images, I found one of that very moment.

Along with billions of other people worldwide, we watched the TV for the next few hours, transfixed. I called my parents in Delhi. Then we joined the millions of people calling our relatives and friends in NY. The lines were jammed. My cousin had seen a plane flying over Manhattan which was very rare and she wondering how come. If I recall correctly, this turned out to be the 2nd plane that hit.

The Towers crumbling

We never imagined the Towers would collapse as we watched them burn. When they did, it was even more unimaginable. Those huge buildings crumbling before our eyes in (not very) slow motion. The people running away amid the dust and the rubble. I will never forget it.

The Pentagon and UA 93

My mind raced to my brother and his wife in DC when the Pentagon was hit. Nothing seemed to be safe.

Then we heard of the 4th plane, UA 93. It was flying over Pennsylvania with live updates from passengers inside. There is an amazing retelling of these extraordinary last calls. That was the most horrific thing, as they knew they were going to die. Inside the plane they even might have caught reports of Air Force jets seeking them out with orders to shoot.

As the 9/11 story unfolded over the next few weeks, one wondered how easy it appeared to do something like this within the system.

Unfortunately, the only other “Where was I when I heard of it?” incident was another attack. It was the assassination of India’s Prime Minster Indira Gandhi in 1984. Both 9/11 and the assassination leave wounds and grievances that are open till today.