Where were you when…?

Posted: March 13, 2011 in Uncategorized
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.. the World Trade Centers were felled down, on 9/11?

I was at my Homeindia office, in Vasan Udyog Bhavan, in Lower Parel. Got a call from home, and I had to ask a couple of times disbelievingly, before realizing what was happening!


..Indira Gandhi was assassinated?

I was studying in the reading room, at VJTI. It was study leave days, before our semester exams. Someone came in and broke the news. And shocked as we were, me, and couple of my friends (Hareesh and Shabbar) rushed to my home (walking distance from VJTI) and watched the details, in shock.


..the news of my maternal grandmother’s passing away was given to me?

The first ‘death’ that I dealt with in life. I was playing cricket with friends in 5-gardens. The place is about 10 min walking distance to my home. Ansuya masi (neighbour plus almost family) walked all the way up, and into the garden. I was shocked to see her there on the ground. She broke the news as mildly as she could, to me. I was very young, in school. Had no idea how to react. The other friends did not know what news had been conveyed to me. I walked up to the stumps, removed the stumps, and started walking away. They were wondering what suddenly came about. And asked me. I don’t think I replied. Aunty perhaps, told them, and then they quietened down. Even they were young like me, and did not know how to react or show their support. I walked up home, and up the 3 storeys, to my flat. No one else was at home. I slept on the bed, thinking that I should cry. Tears did not come. I just lay there.


..the news of my paternal grandfather’s passing away was conveyed to me?

I was at a motel in Los Angeles. My brother, cousins and my parents had come to visit, in the summer after I had completed my MS. Due to the call that my grandpa was not well, my parents had rushed back to India. My brother and the other cousins (all more than 10 years younger to me) were all in the US still, but they were out somewhere, with my aunt and uncle, from the US. I was in the motel, alone. Waiting for them to come back. And the call came from my Dad, from India. I went to the reception (prior to phone in room days, and certainly prior to cell phone days) and spoke to him. Again, he tried to break the news as best as he could. But there was no easy way to say that he was no more. I asked some questions about what happened, how it happened, etc. I made proper conversation, and then put the phone down.

I was all alone there, near the phone. As soon as the phone was kept down though, the tears started flowing out of my eyes. I cried uncontrollably, and walked to my room (a small distance), crying profusely. In a few minutes, my friend and roommate from USC was anyway due to visit me, and he reached there. And found me in that state. And he gave me support. Asked me to cry away as much as I wanted to. Which I did. And then I calmed down.


I can’t remember exactly, where I was when my maternal grandfather passed away.

I can’t remember exactly, where I was and what was I doing, when I got the news of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

I can’t remember the time when the Babri Masjid was felled or when exactly I heard of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

I do remember, a lot of what happened after that, for all of these incidents too, including what I was doing later on.

Like going and picking up my parents from the airport, as they returned from Mauritius, just a few days after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Or the last rites of my maternal grandfather, etc.

I just do not remember the exact instance when I got the news.

I presume, for whatever reason, there are some incidents that leave impact. And get hard coded into our heads. Stay alive in memory, and are fresh, even many years later.

People in the US remember what they were doing when JFK died! That has been one of the most impactful incidents that Americans experienced during those years.

For Indians, it may have been Indira Gandhi.

Can you jog your memory and see if there are incidents of many years back, but you remember the exact detail? Especially incidents involving some shock or some personal tragedy or even something positive?

  1. Samudra says:

    After reading this, I was just reflecting back on some of those instances (and some others along similar lines), and the most striking feature of my memories was how unperturbed I had been, throughout all of it.

    Maybe being surrounded by violence has inured me.

    Wrote a post about this – http://samudranb.com/2011/03/28/where-were-you-when/

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