I was near Frankfurt in a town called Wetzler. I was to fly back to India the next day 12/11 via Amsterdam to New Delhi. In my hotel room I was seeing TV news of the twin towers collapsing and also about the attack on Pentagon on 9/11 evening German time. It sent shivers down my spine.

George W. Bush appeared on TV and said “we are in a state of war”. The words showed the gravity of the murderous assault by perverted outlaws on the world’s largest democracy. Was wondering and felt too sad about the thousands of innocent lives lost.

Frankfurt airport that early morning on 9/12 was a different place with very tight security in place. Huge, full size sniffer dogs, screening, critical X Ray checks and so on. After landing at Amsterdam, I found it jammed with several hundred travelers incl tourists squatting on the floor taking rest, as seats were full. Flights were cancelled. From Heathrow airport and from many other European airports flights were not operational.  Many US airports had also grounded flights. Hence the travellers were stranded as there was no mobility by air.

Hotels fully booked, neighbourhood residents around Schipol airport, Amsterdam were offering accommodation voluntarily to stranded people. This gesture is unforgettable. Public announcements were continuously being made at the Schipol airport about vacant accommodations. I waited for a few hours and then saw that my KLM flight to New Delhi was cancelled. After a few more hours of waiting, they announced a NorthWest airlines (KLM’s partner airline then) flight to Mumbai. There was a mad scramble to get seats in the Boeing 747. I was lucky to get a seat. New Delhi flights were cancelled as these had to over fly Afghanistan. After the 9 hour flight I landed in Mumbai. I told everyone that not only the US but its allies in Europe too faced the brunt of the 9/11 attacks.

orignally posted Sep 2021