Exactly ten years ago, in Saudi Arabia, I was playing the final stage of Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2. I am playing on campaign mode as a ‘Soviet’ and is attacking New York City specifically the World Trade Center. Incidentally on the other side of the globe, in North America (USA), an infamous event we now know as 9/11 is taking place.
I first learned the news when an office colleague – I forgot to mention I was at the office playing Red Alert 2 ;) during that time – is shouting in broken English in what appears to me in eerily glee “America going down! America going down!”.
Saudi Arabia is 7 hours ahead of New York City. Thus in the morning of 9/11, it is already afternoon in Saudi Arabia. Our work schedule is a broken time (meaning we have duty in the morning till early afternoon and then late afternoon until evening) and I had arrived for my second half of work duty.
Upon deciphering what he meant, I opened my internet connection then as soon the once familiar sound of fax modem on dial up connection completed its task, I logged in at cnn.com. At first I was speechless on this terrible ‘accident’ that happened on one of the towers on WTC, and in denial that the event is actually taking place when the second plane hit the second tower. And seems not true when it was reported that another plane hit the Pentagon, while another crashed at Pennsylvania.
My dial up connection still can not handle streaming videos adequately, so my monitoring is limited only to status updates and posted photos as the event transpires.
After the end of office hours, after reaching our accommodation, I hurriedly opened the television and saw in moving graphics the horror and drama of 9/11.
The following day, I can honestly say that the mood in Saudi Arabia is festive based on the ordinary people that I encounter. This continued for about a week and then subsided the following weeks as if nobody now wants to talk about it anymore in public.
Ten years later, I am still here in Saudi Arabia, and I was able to witness some of its transformation, some perhaps related to the 9/11 incident and some simply as time moved forward.
In memory of nine eleven.