Wednesday, December 16, 2015

FEELING ON TOP OF THE WORLD

… STANDING ON TWO CRUTCHES ON THE SOUTH TOWER (TOWER TWO) OF THE FORMER WORLD TRADE CENTER (WTC) IN THE SUMMER OF 1981…LOOKING AT THE VIEW OF THE CITY AND ITS ENVIRONS THAT DISAPPEARED ON 11 SEPTEMBER, 2001 AND REMEMBERING VISIT THE TWIN TOWERS THE FIRST TIME IN AUGUST, 1978.
                  

This photo was taken in August, 1981, on the rooftop observatory of the former South Tower or Tower Two where the first plane crashed into it a few floors below the top of the building, almost twenty years later.


I went there with some Malaysian friends who were studying in other cities in America who had come to visit New York City and I had just been released from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

And as their host I had to take them there. And it turned that it was also my first visit to the observatory in summer where I could see a view of the city and its surroundings which disappeared completely on 11 September, 2001.

I had my third major procedure done on my left knee where a Cuepar prosthesis was placed in it, which took seven hours, so I was on two crutches.

In all, the university insurance coverage totaled US$80,000 to cover the three surgeries I had had at this and the St. Luke’s Hospital also in Manhattan but closer to Columbia University.

I was lucky the co-chairmen of the film division where I was studying at then, Frank Daniels and Milos Forman took a lot of concerning for me and they gave me a one-year medical leave to recuperate.

I went to Boston to live with some Malaysian friends and returned to Malaysia three months before returning to Columbia to resume my studies.

I remember how I was the only person in Malaysia who was carrying a backpack then.

AUGUST, 1978.:

I had just arrived in New York City in the middle of Ramadan, which started when I was still in Malaysia and working with Utusan Melayu as a reporter.

I left office late in the evening and often had to breakfast in the mini-buses that I had to take to return to the rented house in Taman SEA in Petaling Jaya.

And not long in Ramadan I decided to quit Utusan when I was informed that my application for a loan was approved by Mara after the appeal I had made earlier. There was no interview on the appeal and it was approved.

But Columbia had still not confirmed if I could come and register for the course which was offered to me a year earlier which I could not accept because Mara had rejected my application for a scholarship or a study loan.

I spent one year feeling dejected and lifeless.

But now I felt relieved that I had finally got a loan but was still anxious to get the official offer to study at the film division. Mara had already given me the loan and also the one-way ticket to New York City.

But the Form I-20 that Columbia had to send me for me to use to apply for the student visa at the consular section of the American embassy then at the AIA Building.

I had to write telegrams to the school which later sent it to me but at the very last minute which gave me about a week to prepare for the trip.

I bought a few things including an Olympus camera at Pertama Komplex for eight hundred ringgit and a wide angle lens that I would need to use to shoot photos with on the flight from Subang Airport to London via Brussels and back to Brussels to New York City.

I flew with Mustapha Kamal Anwar and Salleh Kassim from the school of mass communications. I met Salleh at the school and got to know Mustapha while working with Utusan and him with NST and we attended the same press conferences together.

Mus went to Boston University while Salleh went to Ohio University and I to Columbia University. But Salleh later left Ohio to go to Boston where I met the two of them during the first break.

I took the Amtrak train from Grand Central station and stayed at their rented apartment on Peterborough Street. I felt very good being able to leave New York City and taking the train and looking at the scenery outside of the window.

I could have liked New York City more if I had allowed myself some diversions.

The two of them later visited me in New York City and stayed or squatted in my Room 602, Harmony Hall and I took them around and to the World Trade Center, Twin Towers that I had not visited before since I thought I could delay visiting them because I can see them all the time and I could also go there anytime.

But for students studying outside of the city they had to visit the Twin Towers when they are in the city.

The Twin Towers had only been opened two years then. They stood strong and looked solid like a rock.

But no one could have thought they could collapse in a heap of dust on 11 September, 2001 barely twenty-three years later.

Millions of people must have visited the Twin Towers after they were opened, and getting the small tickets that they had to buy to go up to the observatory and on a clear day, they can also climb up to the rooftop observatory to have a better view of the whole city and its environs which I later managed to experience in August, 1981.

Ironically, many New Yorkers and Americans had not managed to make this pilgrimage because they thought they could always do it later.

But it was too later. The towers are now gone.

FREEDOM TOWER, 9 APRIL, 2013.:

I returned to the site of the former Twin Towers on 9 April, 2013 for the first time after the Twin Towers collapsed and in their place not so far away now stands the Freedom Tower



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