Remembering the 9/11 victims

 Today we mourn the murder of sanity, the assassination of discernment, the massacre of judiciousness and the extermination of realism. It doesn’t matter whether one refers to this day as 11-9 or 9-11 or what the lead hijacker Mohammed Atta referred to in his coded messages as ‘Two sticks, a dash and a cake with a stick down’ - the two sticks being the number 11 and the cake with a stick down a 9! What matters is that 17 years ago, the world witnessed a group of demented, deranged, insane psychopaths, who thought they could terrorise the world.

On this day in 2001, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-storey skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors.

As news of what was considered to be a ‘freak accident’ spread, we switched on our TV sets here in Muscat and watched the television cameras broadcast the live images, and within a short time after the first plane hit, we watched a second plane appear out of the sky, turning sharply towards the World Trade Center and to our horror and surprise we saw it fly straight into the south tower. For a moment, one thought that we were watching a Hollywood film shoot, but soon realised that it was a real life drama - far worse than a horror film. The collision caused a huge explosion and one could only see black smoke billowing followed by burning debris falling all over.

As per official sources, a total of 2,996 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, including the 19 terrorist hijackers aboard the airplanes. We grieve with the families and loved ones of all those innocent people, whose lives were snuffed out by the hatred and fanaticism of a few.

That was 17 years ago - and three days ago, history once again sort of repeated itself in New York, as one witnessed another murder - this time of the great sport of tennis, as the not-so-serene Serena Williams accused the umpire of sexism in the women’s finals of the US Open. The 20 year old Naomi Osaka derailed Williams of the cat-suit fame, in a dramatic women’s singles final to claim her first career Grand Slam title. Osaka held her nerve to serve out the match and halt Williams from tying Margaret Court’s record of 24 women’s singles titles. Better luck next time Serena - maybe you should consider wearing the Zentai suit instead of the cat suit, if you want to beat your opponent in the finals. The advantage would be that, if you win you can remove the mask with a flourish and if you lose, the ignominy remains hidden with your face!

Meanwhile in the men’s finals, Novak Djokovic played Juan Martin del Potro, who reached the finals after Nadal retired hurt in their semis. A Novak-Nadal match could have been what the bookies ordered, but Juan had other ideas. And obviously, if you have seen Juan, you have seen them all! But it was a juanderful match and I guess the best man won - no djokes!

And closer home, the Indian Independence Day Golf tournament was held on September 7 (instead of August 15) at the Ghala Golf Club. Though one generally tends to avoid such tournaments for fear of indulging in PDF (public display of foolishness), this time one acquiesced to the invitation of a friend and joined him and another amazing gentleman for a round of 18 holes.

Couldn’t possibly have chosen a worse day - the high temperatures on the course seemed to compete with the high score on my card. The only redeeming factor was the company I kept during the round. Despite the heat, my other two partners kept their cool and one kept noticing that Salim, consistently kept hitting those long and straight shots, probably because he kept talking to himself and one could overhear him telling himself ‘Salim- focus!’ Anything to hit a half decent shot, I too started to talk to myself telling my errant self to keep my head down and to slow down my back swing…but my damned clubs sort of kept asking me to go fly a kite instead! And then it hit me that the secret lay in getting Salim to speak to me. And voila…once he did, my driver sort of got arm-twisted and my tee shots thereafter actually started finding the fairway. Totally a different matter that by the second shot, it was yesterday once more, and my muscle memory developed amnesia and I was back to hacking and hawing, Thank you Sheikh Humaid and Salim for your patience and encouragement!

And before I sign off, a few random thoughts:
Did you know that some people make up their minds way before they can be confused with the facts?
Did you know that some people are now thinking out of the box, and are choosing cremation over traditional burial?
Did you know that there is a term for leaders like ‘he-who-cannot-be-named’, but hopefully not two terms?

Till next fortnight…enjoy the Hijri New Year holiday as I head off to the Pink City to meet a dear friend who hasn’t been too well!

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