Indira S. Somani, journalist, PhD

10 years ago today

Ten years ago today, I was a producer with CNBC.  I lived in Manhattan and had just finished the overnight shift.  I took the network transport back to the city from Ft. Lee, NJ (where CNBC was based at the time, now  it is in Secaucus, NJ).  I came to my apt., which was on the Upper West Side, and made two pieces of toast and turned on the TV, something I rarely did.  I usually just put in my ear plugs and tried to sleep during the day, as I worked nights.  I saw everything happening with the twin towers on TV.  There was no way for me to get back to work, because the bridges and tunnels had been closed.  The first phone call I got was from my cousin, Anjali Bajaj Dooley, who wanted to make sure I was ok.  Later that day I had dozens of phone calls and emails from friends and relatives from India, who wanted to make sure I was ok.  That night I had no idea how to get back to Ft. Lee.  I walked outside my apt. and the streets were bare.  As I walked to the subway, I saw someone just stop and shake the hand of a police officer for doing all he could to keep the city safe.  I took the subway (subways and bridges were open again) to the George Washington Bridge and walked across the bridge to get to Ft. Lee.  Have you ever walked across the George Washington Bridge?  As soon as I got to the newsroom I called my parents.  Dad was traveling at the time, and mom had his contact information.  I finally got in touch with him, and he, too, was in shock with the news.  I remember him feeling sad as he appreciated the beauty the twin towers added to the New York skyline.

The next month was filled with emotionally draining 16 hour/day shifts trying to understand the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the aftermath of the demolished World Trade Center.  My newscasts were filled with a minimum of four live shots from Ground Zero, The Pentagon, Afghanistan and the State Dept.  These were live shots that were available to me with a simple phone call.  The resources available at the network for the Sept. 11th coverage made my experience with CNBC the highlight of my television news career.

Another memory: When I was looking for a place to live in New York, I was going to rent an apt. in Battery Park (a neighborhood on the south end of Manhattan).  My father came with me to help me find a place to live.  We saw many places in the Wall Street area, but finally I settled on something on the Upper West Side. Had I lived in Battery Park, I would have had to evacuate my apt. after Sept. 11 as it would have been nearby to the twin towers.

Today I’m in Bangalore, India listening to the drum beats of the procession for the 10th day immersion of Ganesh Chaturthi.  There’s some coverage of the 10 year anniversary in the newspapers and on television.  But being on the other side of the world, I feel a greater sense of remembrance from Facebook and of course, U.S. news websites.