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The terror in New York - a first hand account

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Thu Sep 13 2001 - 21:52:48 PDT

Respected Ramanuja Bhaktas,

Several of our family members were in the vicinity of the World Trade
Center during the terrorist attack and the subsequent collapse of the
twin towers.   This a first hand account of the horrifying events from
one of them.

Those of you hailing from or living in India may know the name of the
noted carnatic musician Smt. Jayalakshmi Santhanam.   This account is
from her first son.....

Dear Everyone,

This is Krishnan from the US end, thanking you all for the prayers and
good wishes which has doubtless played a big part in
preserving me during the terrible developments in New York.  As you
would all have got the update by now, By God's Grace,
I am safe and doing well.  (I am currently about 200 miles away from New

You would all have seen the continuous TV coverage about the terrorist
attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center
in New York, and doubtless been horrified by it.  Let me assure you all,
what you have seen is absolutely NOTHING
compared to the real magnitude of this tragedy.  I am still trying to
find an answer as to why God chose to spare so many at
close quarters (- I am one of them! -) while allowing so MANY others to
fall victims.  I was in staying in the hotel EXACTLY
opposite the Twin Towers last night, and this morning, when the tragedy
occured!  A colleague of mine had just come into the
hotel lobby, and called me in my room at 8:40 a.m.  I was just in the
process of completing my Sandhyavandanam, and so I
told him that I would be don in 10 minutes.  As I was just about to step
out of the room, our entire hotel building shook (- last
few weeks, I had been staying in the 46th/47th floors, but this time I
was on the 14th), and I heard an IMMENSE explosion!
I saw an unending rain of dust, papers, steel, glass and other debris
falling on the street, and when I looked out at the Twin
Towers, I saw the North Tower in flames.  I assumed that it must have
been an unusually large electrical fault, said a short
prayer for the people in there, and went down to the hotel lobby. (My
personal belongings - clothes, toiletries, some
documents, etc. are still in the hotel!)  There was absolute panic
there, with people from the street rushing in to avoid the faling
debris.  I simply cannot describe the fear enveloping most of the people
there or the sense of shock among all, looking up at
flaming tower.  My colleague and I stepped out of the side entrance and
started walking away from the Towers (and towards
our work spot, which was about a mile-and-a-half away).  My colleague
was in sever shock, since, in addition to hearing aan
airplane hit the North Tower, he later also actually saw, with absolute
horror, 3-4 people jumping out of the 75/80th floors!
As we were appraoching our work location, we heard yet another loud
explosion, which we later learnt was due to the second
airplane hitting the South Tower.  (Had we started the walk even 5
minutes later, we had a good chance of being hit by the
adidtional debris, and a definite chance of simply being overpowered by
the smoke and soot.  We were safely inside our work
location for nearly an hour, when some people, still looking out at the
Twin Towers (- which, due to their tremndous height, are
visible from miles away-), started screaming that one of the towers was
collapsing.  A little later, the second tower also
collapsed.  The dust and debris was so intense, that from our office -
situated on the 24th floor, nearly 2 miles away - we could
barely see a few inches outside the window.  In fact, for several hours
later, the smoke has been so intense and so high, we
couldn't really verify that the towers weren't there!  When it did clear
after a few hours, all the streets were covered in a thick
coating of soot and ust, much like ash from a volcano.  At around noon,
we heard the instruction to vacate the entire lower part
of Manhattan island.  We then walked towards a nearby ferry port (- with
moistened handkerchiefs across our noses/mouths),
and took the ferry (- the only form of active transportation) across the
river to New Jersey.  I had to then walk for another
hour to a car rental company, and wait there for about 3 hours, to get a
rental car.  Since the drive to Detroit is over 12 hours
away, I just drove for about 150 miles (to Harrisburg in Pennsylvania)
for the night - from where I am sending out this note.  I
hope to complete the rest of the drive to Detroit tomorrow, with a short
prayer-stop at Lord Venkateswara's abode near

If it sounds like I have gone through great difficulties and adventure,
then it is indeed my inability to communicate well.  What I
have gone through isn't even a micro-fraction of what several thousands
others have been subjected to.  It would be nothing
short of blasphemy for me to complain even a little bit about whatever
little inconveniences I went through.  I am sending this
note with the objective of providing a more personal account of the
dreadful tragedy at this end, in addition to the somehwat
impersonal TV reports.  While all our spiritual / philosophical
backgrounds do point us towards accepting this with fortitude, it
was/is very tough to take it so, having seen the utter terror and total
heartbreak all around you.  I urge all of you to please join
together in fervent prayers - not only that the current victims are
provided succour, but also that such an event may never again
occur.  Also, we must all make a determination that such acts of blatant
cruelty are forcefully opposed.

You may have already had more than a fair share of TV coverage on this
topic, so I will not subject you to more of this.

Once again, thanks for all your prayers and good wishes, which
definitely had a hand in seeing me through this.  But please do
take the effort to extend this to the many, many, MANY others who
deserve it much, much, MUCH more.


May God Bless Us all with good sense and consideration for fellow
beings! -  Universal peace and happiness are
just by-products of these.

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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