Farsan Bukhari, Breanna Romaine-Guilaino
Farsan: What department of Pace do you work for?
Ann: I’m in the library, specifically at the periodical department on the second floor.
Farsan: Alright, so since when have you been in New York?
Ann: I was born and raised in New York City.
Farsan: Oh, You were born and raised in New York City?
Farsan: Like Manhattan?
Farsan: Alright so, since like uh, how did you come to Pace?
Ann: I started at Pace as a part-time worker in 1999 and several months later was a full-time employee.
Farsan: Okay, and you’ve been working in the library, in the library department since then?
Ann: Right, since inception.
Farsan: Okay. So what was your normal routine on the Tuesdays in the semester when the 9/11 attacks took place?
Ann: I normally work an eight-to-four shift and lunch varies according to the student aid, um, scheduled help that I have, um. That particular morning was just a regular Tuesday morning schedule, so there was no meetings planned, there was no um, off-site agenda to be attended to. We were going to stay in the library.
Farsan: So like everything was normal and the way it goes like every, every weekday?
Farsan: Nothing was very different about it?
Farsan: Okay, what, what was your instantaneous reaction when you heard or like you saw the 9/11 attacks happening? Because I’m sure like, you were in the city so you might have seen like the second plane hit the tower but I’m sure like many of the people didn’t do that. They probably heard it was a word of mouth that spread and then people went out of the building to see what was going on. Like that’s what happened with me. So, what was your instantaneous reaction and how did you hear about it? What were you doing at that time?
Ann: Well, the first um, airplane into the tower rocked entire downtown as if, an earthquake had happened. The windows, the entire building shook, the floors shook, kind of like an earthquake would feel um, or some sort of a tremor um. At that point I think phone calls were flying around the inter-library to see what's going on but if you walked to the west of the library there’s windows that face the towers and you can see the smoke. At that time um, I grabbed my purse and I left the building because my children go to school two blocks from the World Trade Center.
Ann: So I was out the door within minutes and literally saw the second plane hit as I was traveling through the streets um. When I got to school, some parents had not left yet from drop off because drop off is eight thirty in the morning at the school and some parents that don't work such an early shift or don't work at all hang around the building. So and then other parents did an early drop off by um before eight, five to eight, eight o’clock and they were already gone so some of those parents weren't back um, in time to pick up their kids to take them. So the school was left with hundreds of children to keep safe that couldn't stay in the building and their evacuation sites were also evacuation sites. So they didn’t have an evacuation site to take the children. Um the streets were mobbed, people were running away from downtown, people were already running towards the bridge. Um, car traffic was at a complete standstill um, and already you saw persons flying outside windows that were jumping, that weren’t waiting for help.
Ann: Um, then I gathered my two children in different classes and my nephew also went to school and I left with the three of them to walk back east towards Pace because I also live close to Pace.
Farsan: Please go ahead.
Ann: You have another question? (Laughs)
Farsan: Okay, um, what did you do? Like after getting your kids, you said you got your kids and your…
Ann: We headed back home, I never came back to Pace at all.
Ann: I needed to make sure that um my family was intact and I wasn't going to bring my children into the chaos of Pace University because people were using Pace as a site to run into as well because it was a, because it is a strong structure. But it didn't mean we were in a sound area because we were all too close to the World Trade Center if it would have fallen, not straight down like it did.
Farsan: Okay, so you actually, so took your kids and your nephew…
Ann: Right, we went home and home is not far from Pace, it's a little more east of Pace, it's near the water up the East River. But um, before we were considering leaving or where we would be going because most people that work in the city were walking home to Brooklyn, Queens or wherever. I was already at home in downtown Manhattan so for me to leave and go someplace else I had to gather my family and decide where that safe place would be. Um, it wound up that we couldn't leave the city because all the roadways were closed. So we couldn't get the car to leave. We were, we stayed in New York City probably for the first three days. And in those three days I had no electricity, no phone, no water, because the entire downtown area was shut off to all utilities.
Farsan: Yeah, I do remember because I was in Long Island at that time and like my parents were trying to call me from overseas and the calls wouldn't get through.
Ann: Right, we had absolutely no electricity no, you know the refrigerator wasn't working, the stove wasn't working, we had no water to take a bath. For three days it was kind of gruesome and the Towers burned for months, not even days or weeks. So the smoke pockets continued. Of course, a year later the smoke pockets were much smaller but they were constant burning and constant smoking. If you followed the weather patterns all the air flow goes from west to east. So it constantly flew over and once it passed us on the east side it went over to Brooklyn. So we had constant um, odors and uh, burning debris flying through the air for months and months after. So, and also it wasn't a sound neighborhood; it was considered an unsound neighborhood to bring taxis or buses and trains. So nothing ran downtown. People who worked downtown started probably I think a week to ten days after the, and they actually only put specific bus routes back on to get people downtown.
Ann: And certain trains and blocks and of course the um, the service people were on every other block with barricades for months so you couldn't walk on certain blocks during cleanup. It was a very restricted area.
Farsan: Yeah, I mean I remember uh, it was my birthday; my father had come to see me. So like it was like October 20th and uh, we you know, we were just like by 14th street and after 14th street I think everything was blocked and it was smelling, it was stinking so much because of the debris that it was totally, I can’t even explain how it was, it smelt so weird.
Ann: Also my um, children's school had a very um, difficult time getting back on its feet because we had no building to send the kids to thereafter. The fire department took over the school building with rescue dogs and they claimed the school building. But yet children left their back packs and lunch boxes and all their pencils and homework and notebooks and since school was only started a few days, most of their material is brand new. But that left the principal and the administrative staff to get in touch with families and if all the families live in the 9/11 district, none of us had phones working. So the school couldn’t call and say “hi guys we’ve changed the school building you need to attend school on 14th street and 9th avenue.” So they had to put out news whichever way they could get it. It was on radio, it was on the television, but not all of us had television because we had no electricity. So if you weren’t staying with someone else you didn't know that they were trying to get in touch with you through the television. And they mentioned that our school had, the Board of Education had rented a abandoned old Catholic school, a parochial school on 14th and 9th where we were going to put our children. But the school hadn't been used in a long time and needed to be refurbished. So in ten days the parents got together, painted, cleaned, washed, bought soap, took donations for notepads and pencils to try and get some material into the building. Um, benches and seats were brought in from other places and donated from other places. Um, every crayon was brought in from outside. So we had to start all over again and it brought community together with a group of parents to get their kids what they needed. Meanwhile they were living in areas that the government told us were safe to go back to even though the fires were still burning and the streets were still closed and the buses weren’t running and you couldn't drive your own vehicle in and out because it was uh, under uh, security, high security, where streets were blocked off um, even for people who lived there. You couldn't, if you didn’t show an ID you weren't allowed and even when you did show an ID you weren't always permitted to walk home.
Farsan: So which areas were these that you mentioned as being safe? Or the government said was safe for people to go back to?
Ann: Anything under Canal Street.
Farsan: Anything under Canal Street?
Ann: Yeah, and they’re finding now that some of the rescue workers are dying from 9/11-related concerns and it’s coming up even now. So I don't know how safe the air was or living here for us for them to tell us that we can go back home ten days after the incident.
Farsan: I mean uh, you’d the example that you gave me that everyone brought in things and you know donated things for the school …
Ann: World Wide!
Farsan: That’s an excellent example of community work.
Ann: Yeah, it was. Locally, every parent, I'm talking went with wash racks and cleaning windows and floors and paint, donated we all went. You know, we didn't hire painters and cleaners. We went in as a parent group and fixed that school but we got donations worldwide. From other countries, from every state, here’s supplies for school you know, letters and notes and stuffed animals for the kids and just an outpouring of support. But, um I don't know how much, you know, it gave the children support, it gave the parents support, but these kids were, their world and whatever they trust, were shaken from them. And what they, was repetition and what was constant and what made them feel safe was completely taken. Many, many kids went to therapy for months after.
Farsan: Oh my God, that's terrible. So like uh, did you, did you feel after the 9/11 catastrophe happened, did you feel unsafe or safe? Like how did you feel about it? I mean you must have felt really jittery or for that matter one gets paranoid because none of us has been ever so deeply gotten effected by something like 9/11.
Ann: Um, I was angry. I was very angry that I was, my family was forced into this experience and not only were we forced by the terrorists, we were forced by our own government to come back ten days after the attacks and it was okay to live here and reside back in your home. And they’re working on the phone lines and they’re working on the water and they’re working on the gas pipes um, but it was nowhere near normal. And you would have thought you were in Iraq or Afghanistan when you walked downtown that first two months after the incident. You didn't know you were in New York. And yet if you drove out of the city, New Jersey or other boroughs, life was very normal. It was only very abnormal in that very vicinity. Although, everyone was affected by 9/11 in some way because it was a disaster that was world affected. Even in, it didn’t matter what country you lived in, it was economically going to affect you or because of what the terrorist do um, every country was on guard.
Farsan: Oh definitely.
Ann: But um, I was angry that my children had to know this. I was angry that I was forced into changing schools and walking on certain blocks and was it for my protection? I don't know 9/11 had already happened. I think for two months, three months after, they put residents through hell when it could have been better organized. They should have had a data on who lived where or treated certain residents differently or the children differently. Um, you’d walk out your door and there’d be soldiers with Uzis on the corners, I mean it really wasn't normal. There was Hummers with machine guns on the top around City Hall and uh, I didn't understand…
Farsan: Yeah I mean…
Ann: who were we attacking or why we had those trucks there in that presence? Yeah, we needed a strong military presence but we weren't having a ground war.
Farsan: Definitely, I agree with you.
Ann: It wasn't a ground war. You know, and um, normalcy took months and months and even now today, is there normalcy? Well there’s normal, the stores, some of the stores are back open. We've lost a lot of customers because of the people who rented in the Word Trade, LaTouche Bank, those people aren’t here anymore. They’re scattered in New Jersey, their uptown, their offices are many places. So normalcy is it back? I don’t know because my son was uh, four years old and he was going to be five that November and he was in his first uh, couple of, uh, first days in kindergarten. He had come from pre-k so is it normal for him? He was afraid of airplanes for the longest while and he um, he’s not as trustworthy as uh, some of the other children. I think he’s more skeptical. There’s a lot of things about his personality today that have been induced by 9/11. Um, he’s a very sensitive child. He’s very intuitive to things around him and I think 9/11 forced that upon him although he was intuitive and bright. But um, at that age you have to, you know, your teacher, where your school is, where your house is, where your mother is that day. Everything about what was normal for him or that made him feel safe was taken from him. And does we see things in his character today that would make him a little more co-dependent? Does my son need therapy? Um, no he’s not crazy, he doesn't cry. He doesn't have tantrums. But for a while he would eat and he would build his carrots like the World Trade Centers and said he fixed it and you know, play with clay or draw and that's how kids show their emotions.
Ann: Because they don't talk like adults talk and they do it through clay or though and that's all part of the process. He needed to express it and out but um, Americans have changed forever. Do I feel unsafe now? I don't know if I feel unsafe. I think terrorism has always been there. I think it was there forty, fifty, sixty years ago but it wasn't there on the scale we have it today and children have a great responsibility, whether you’re in grade school or middle school or high school. I can’t imagine being a high school and a college student going out to get a job to face a global world where jobs are turning very global, when so is terrorism. So I’m not sure where all that’s going.
Farsan: So do you think like, do you, do you think after five, how do you feel about this after like five years?
Ann: Well I do a lot of community service. I’m a member of Community Board 1 in Manhattan and I’m on the Youth and Education Committee so I advocate for the parks and the schools, um, the youth fairs um. We didn't have parks up and running after 9/11. We’re trying to restore a lot of our areas for our children that were destroyed and messed up after 9/11. Our pools, for our community centers, you know everything. The glass was broken on the window, there were cracks in the pavements umm so the ball fields were you know destroyed, they had to redone, everything had to be redone after 9/11. So five years later as a committee representative for you; we’re still restoring um recreational and educational opportunities for children in this area.
Farsan: Okay, and um, do you feel, do you feel personally emotionally affected by 9/11 attacks? Like you told me about your children and children are like they’re sensitive, they’re like flowers. I mean just like an un-fragile touch and you know, leaves a mark. It’s not that it makes like makes someone crazy but it does leave an impact. So how, how do you, would you feel, would you say that you were deeply affected by this like in an emotional way?
Ann: I’m angry, I’m still angry. After years I think there’s such a pattern of cycle. You get angry you get sad, you get there you know, it passes and then there’s another stage, there’s a denial stage and then there’s an acceptance stage. I think they happen in flows but after five years, um, I’m not a person who sulks and I think people who sulk become depressed and saddened um. You have to have a purpose and keep going and moving on because that's what life is all about you still celebrate birthdays and still have parties. 9/11 doesn't take away the essence of life, not by far. Not by what the foods people eat and how they celebrate. Um, and as a parent and community rep, no I don't, I don't feel emotionally disturbed by it. You know I’m more angry that the experience even existed and that it brought on the concerns we have today with policies and government and other countries. But no, it’s time to continue living and educating and being there and just living life.
Farsan: Ok if you think like uh, before you said that you feel that this is not only the work of terrorists? Um…
Ann: Well, I think our government is at fault for not protecting us using, I think what we do is we become complacent and we don't maximize our potential. And I think as a government we need to maximize what we do for our citizens and I think that's where our government is at fault. For failing us to not maximize how they could have protected us or made better policies or made better decisions or--you know the border problem and the ports problem and the smuggling problem and there’s, you know. But these aren't problems that are new, these are problems…
Farsan: They’ve been around,
Ann: that has been there since centuries.
Ann: So it’s about maximizing what we can do for quality of life for everyone. So that's, that’s what bothers me that we don’t maximize and we have the technology, we have the smarts. It’s not about not having resources,
Farsan: We have a lot.
Ann: we have them all, we have them all and so do other countries, so do other countries. We have the resources. Something has to be done to get the job done and what they do is they argue of policy and the better way to do it. And they waste years and months and precious lives and meanwhile you have scholars, you have people, scholars that know and can help plan out what needs to be done. Never mind just political leaders, you have professionals in every field that can be...
Farsan: Professionals, agencies, bureaucracies, everything...
Ann: Oh my gosh, yeah. So somehow government has to bring it together to make it work and it’s not, nothing’s impossible. Everything is possible, you just…
Farsan: And plus like it's really not impossible because we as a country are, we are like strongest in the world. Which is a blessing but we, I think we’re not utilizing that to the max.
Ann: Right and that's everything we do. I find even right here at Pace University I’m always trying to maximize my department. How I can better be efficient in a shorter amount of time, how can we better serve, how can I train my student aides. What can we do to maximize. Even if it’s changing the position of furniture, if it maximizes how someone can study. It could be the simplest thing up to the most complicated. Having you know electronic equipment that we didn't have before but we can service the students with that. We have to stay diverse and diverse maximizing that. And I think it comes with good organization that, that has leaders, I don’t want to just say managers, has leaders that know how to bring this together.
Farsan: Do you think, do you think allowing a lot of diversity in New York or America is the root of the problem that we are facing today?
Ann: No I think diversity can cure it. I think when you want people to fit a form, it’s impossible. You can’t fit the people, you have to fit the society to the people. So the diversity’s only going to make people happier and less crime, if we accept the diversity. Of course you have to have guidelines and regulations and laws--that's without saying-- but we cannot block out diversity; if you block out diversity you destroy America.
Farsan: Yeah, I think that's what America's symbol is. It's a mixture of a lot of people and that's what makes it America.
Farsan: So okay, do you think U.S foreign policy, past foreign policies with other countries have enraged people to do something like this?
Ann: Um, it might have played a part I don't know about enraging. I think those people had agenda's already from past history and those countries um, there’s no possible excuse no matter how bad for anyone to behave in such a manner, it is not human, it’s very inhuman, it’s very insane.
Farsan: Very inhuman.
Ann: It is um, sick behavior, it is sick. Where these, you know, people need to be treated for this kind of sickness. Whether they are warped to think a certain way, whether they’re brainwashed however um, I always use it like a rock. You can’t reason with a rock so if that person or that rock is sick and that mind is sick, you can’t talk to it, you can’t have conversation with it, you can’t reason with it, you can’t argue with it, you can’t debate with it, doesn't matter. Doesn't matter how much data you come up with, how much proof you come up with that it could be, you know, the wrong way to think or the wrong way to act or, it doesn't matter. When you’re sick it doesn't matter. You cannot change a sick mind.
Farsan: There is no justification.
Ann: No, and you cannot heal that sick mind, it cannot be healed. That's why we have institutions that we medicate some people and others are in special services or care because they cannot live with society and yeah, those people are very sick. It's not about being evil or being bad, it’s not, it's beyond evil, it is beyond evil. It's inconceivable for humans to behave in a manner, so there’s something very, very sick there, very sick. And to have followers, you’ve made them sick like you, they’re sick in the mind.
Farsan: Yeah! I agree with you because…
Ann: There’s no, and I don't want to make fun of people with disabilities but for instance, you’re born with chromosome dysfunction and you are confined to a wheelchair and you can never speak and you can you know, you can see with your eyes and you can taste but there’s parts of you, your brain doesn’t think properly. It cannot do mathematics like a normal brain can do mathematics um, but you cannot cure that. Surgery can't fix you, medication can't fix you. So I’d like to compare these people look normal to us. And they, oh, they just believe or they read or they’re, they’ve taken their religion and turned it into a cult and they believe this. They’re, they’re sick people and when you don't educate in the healthy sense and you give people no options and you force them to the lowest standards of living it’s very easy to have them follow you if you promise them a better life. So if they prey on the weak, because they’re certainly not preying on the educated and normal. They’re not preying on the educated school child…
Farsan: Yeah, they’re…
Ann: or they’re not targeting people who have a better life. They’re targeting the children and the young people that have nothing and I’m talking children nine and ten year olds. They’re not targeting even, you know, yeah teenagers. They’re in Africa; they’re in, all over, trying to group up soldiers.
Farsan: Yeah, I totally agree with you cause I come from um, I’m from Pakistan…
Farsan: but in like, we are like from a, we are, me or um.
Ann: I have friends from Pakistan as well. They’re from regions where you went to school and you work.
Farsan: You go to school life is very normal, it’s very, it’s pretty cosmopolitan.
Ann: But there’s people who don't have those options or blessings.
Farsan: Exactly so what they do is, like, it’s like any military institution. Like say talking about Al Qaeda or the Taliban, what they do is they recruit in places where people don't have much to do.
Ann: Well then here we go back to the government, your government. The people that have money, have money to take care of them, you have the money to give them schools. Maybe not you know, diplomatic schools but you have money to give them schools. You have money to give them food plans and if you did Al Qaeda couldn't get them.
Farsan: Yeah, I totally agree with you.
Ann: And you and worldwide, like America doesn't have to donate to you when the President of Pakistan is drinking from a gold cup, you know, and this is in every third world country. There isn’t a third world country that the prime minister is not sitting on an expensive couch in a fancy bedroom.
Farsan: I totally agree with you.
Ann: Okay, so they don't need US help, they need to better govern themselves to help their own people.
Farsan: Then that’s and you know what it’s…
Ann: And I don't mean to insult any culture…
Ann: because America needs to do a better job right here. We have people living on minimum wage, that's a disgrace! We have kids in overcrowded schools that need schools for thirty years and not in lesser economic areas because we forget about those kids. And it doesn't matter if their school’s overcrowded and the bathroom doesn't work. But in a higher class neighborhood and a better neighborhood the school is gorgeous and it’s not over crowded. So we do it right here but America does make provisions with Medicaid, and financial aids…
Ann: where you can go to school for free and eat for free and get food stamps if you had to go on a program. They make some options, although we need a lot of help with our programs but it’s there and other countries just don't have it.
Farsan: They don't have it. Yes, I agree with you. I think like, do you think the basis of this is corruption at the governmental level? Because I think where people, people or fundamentalists like Al Qaeda rise is where corruption is there. When your leaders are corrupted, they, they don't support like the people like the nation. And when they are not supported they’re left for just, they’re left to starve and then the only option they have is probably to get recruited by Taliban or Al Qaeda. So how do you feel about that?
Ann: I think that pure government is a dream, I think it's a fantasy, I don't think it's physically possible. I think there will always be some forms of corruption but I think but not even for bad reasons. I think sometimes you’re politically, you’re forced your back up against the wall and decisions are not always made for the better of the reasons. So does that means corruption is good? Absolutely not but can we ever change the government and clean it out, even if you replaced every official within six months to a year, they’re going to be corrupt all over again. How do you keep it pure? I mean it's very, very difficult, you could come close to staying on track and it should be monitored, but I almost think it's humanly impossible not to have error because we’re humans.
Farsan: Do you think, do you think waging war with Iraq was anything relevant to 911?
Ann: I don’t think war is relevant period. I’m not an advocate of war by far.
Farsan: And uh, how bout, do you think like if, we all heard through, I don’t know if you read the 9/11 Commission Report?
Ann: uh-uh (no)
Farsan: Um, in that they state that you know there were budget cuts for the FBI or uh, something like that and I don’t know for what reasons. Do you think if they like, do you think like, you know like we have this feeling and this thing in ourselves that uh, you know the FBI knows everything. So do you think that it would of, it was possible for them to know and they didn’t come to know about the 9/11 attacks for because of some reason?
Ann: I don’t know I have such mixed feelings on that. I think some information was there, do I think funding would have helped? No, I think maximizing what we do, helps. I think when you’re so use to not maximizing every day, you don’t need more money to help you maximize. You need to think stronger, you need better organization. You need a better leader to help you stay maximized. And not every day you’re going to be perfect and not every day could be maximized but I think Americans are in general. I think we work too much, we don’t have enough time off and it prevents us from maximizing. I think if we had more holidays or time off in between or flex hours for people to live their lives with their families and work. I think people would be happier and more efficient. We’re burnt out, Americans are burnt out.
Farsan: Totally I agree with you because I feel the same way, it’s like the nine to five schedule every day.
Ann: Yeah, but even so people work and go to school. It’s no more I can go to school while I have a student loan or you can’t, people can’t afford student loans for their families anymore. You can’t have a student loan for more than two kids then you’re broke. Um, and then you as a student is not just going to school like in the old days because you’re parents are paying for your loan, you have to work too. So survival means I only have twenty minutes to study cause I have to start my job and then after my job I’m going straight to class and then I come out of class I’m going back to work. And then myself, I have children and I work a full day and then they have homework, they have schedules, after who belongs to sports--there’s no family time. America has made no rest time. We don’t even rest on the weekends, we’re running 24 hours. Take your laptop with you, you can work anywhere, you know? I mean laptops were good for diversity and good for globalization where people have to get their job done but we don’t, we are so geared to being busy. We’re not maximizing because if you can’t rest you can’t maximize. The human body and mind needs to rest to maximize.
Farsan: Definitely. So you, so like how do you think, how exactly do you think rest works? Lessening work or like less stress can help us out?
Ann: Oh I think we need to take a lesson from some European countries who have siestas in the middle of the day, certain companies just close down. When there is a holiday you do close the doors and you give your employees a paid vacation instead of having them come in um. There’s so many little things that Europeans do to enjoy life that Americans don’t.
Farsan: Yeah, yeah I agree with you because I've been to Europe and I’ve seen their lifestyle, they’re very relaxed.
Ann: Right and I’m sure in other countries too there might be different ways or techniques to help the people gear up and gear down, you know? Um, there’s got to be something we do for the human in us that can make us work harder or think stronger because we’ve had a rest.
Farsan: Definitely. Um, how do you feel about foreign policy and how do you think the government can make things better and protect us from future attacks?
Ann: By maximizing, back to maximizing. We need to, we have all the resources, I really believe that. I believe we have all the educated people and scholars to help us through it. I think we’re scientifically ready. I think we’re technology ready. I think we’re educationally ready, I think it needs to be put together to maximize. There isn't a system we can't do or start or have or, it's all there.
Farsan: Yeah and I, would you say we have to be more alert, like or our government or agencies have to be more alert?
Ann: Maximize! We’re not maximizing the alertness that's on the job.
Ann: If we maximize what we have we wouldn't even need to hire more. Or if we gave these people rests in between or alternate their schedules so that there was always someone on duty and always someone resting. You know computer programmers sometimes work through the night and work through the night and work through the night. You know, how do they work at their highest potential if they never slept the night before? Or like a nurse or a doctor does a double, three-day shift, what is that? So that when you do surgery you don't know what you're doing? Or how about having them do a normal day so they can come and do surgery at their maximum.
Farsan: Yeah, I would agree with that.
Ann: They’re humans! How do, I don't want a doctor doing a surgery on me after he did a double shift, absolutely not. I don't want a nurse serving me in the hospital if she hasn't slept.
Farsan: Um, would you agree, would you agree that like, I like, you know, we have this, I was talking about this before I don't know if I am being repetitive but we all have this feel that you know okay, whatever might go wrong the undercover would know about it or…
Ann: Trust that they knew what was going on?
Farsan: Uh, I’m not saying they knew it was going to happen but do you think like, would you think that they knew about it or they, they could have gotten enough knowledge to stop it?
Ann: I, Yeah, I think with maximizing our resources we could have better handled everything but I still feel that about everything. I think Americans don't maximize because we’re overworked. And if they did, they’d be better organized in their office. They would have better organized their response. They would have better organized their protection! I think it just would have all fell into place on a higher scale instead of the dramatics that we saw.
Farsan: Yeah, you know I think the biggest shock is that America really considered the most powerful country in the world, we’re a superpower. We’re probably like ruling the world in a way like we’re ahead of everyone. And, I mean, it came, it came as a shock to the rest of the world, economically, financially like in every way, that a country like America could be so vulnerable to attacks like this.
Ann: Well, truthfully in education we are not anymore. Statistics show that we’re on the same scale as Poland. We used to be number one in the world. Now we are not even in the top twenty and we’re spending more money every year per year on prisoners than we are on a school child. So our tax dollars are not going and then when you drop out of, eighty-five percent of prisoners are dropouts from high schools. So if we put more money into high school and we helped kids in high school we’d have less people in prisons anyway to put money into. Then when they come back out to society they’re not functional and they land back in there and we are all victims all over again. So we’re not on top anymore with education and our prisoner situation is getting out of control.
Farsan: So you think if uh, more money is invested into high schools perhaps…
Farsan: the system is more maximized and taken care of?
Ann: There you go.
Ann: It feeds back the society in the long run and costs less money in the long run and less jails and less victims.
Farsan: Yeah, I think that's the right thought because education is basis…
Ann: It’s the key.
Farsan: It’s the key. You educate someone and he will not like, I think that would go for any country.
Ann: That’s right.
Farsan: He would not become a terrorist. He would not become, go to prison. It's all about education.
Ann: Because he had education and options that he wouldn’t have normally and not everyone wants to be a doctor or a lawyer. There’s others, you know. We have professions as like electricians and carpenters that make wonderful lifestyles. You don't have to be a lawyer. You can have a talent as an architect and do well, you know? You can be a hands- on mechanic and you know, work with computers.
Ann: There isn't any possibility that wouldn't be available to you to have an acceptable lifestyle that would not make you turn into doing, you know, things that work against society.
Farsan: Yeah, that is very true and honestly speaking, I think America is most beautiful at that part because it has so many things to offer.
Ann: But we have all these resources.
Ann: We’re not maximizing how we’re using them and its hurting us in the long run because our societies are becoming worse.
Farsan: Yeah I think this, I think uh, the problem of being overworked that you were just telling me right now, it’s within the society, it’s within the culture, it’s been so deeply engraved.
Ann: But then you can’t maximize.
Ann: If you work, you know six days out of seven and expected to do that again the following week or even if you shortened hours but you still went in those six days, when did you rest? Because you’re not just going home from work, you’re going from work, most of us have families or other lives or commitments besides the job. So how do you split yourself, you know? I think on a regular basis a forty-hour work week is too maximized. Or even if it is, then in-between you still got to give more vacation days or, or, I’m not talking about giving vacation days till it becomes chaotic. You know, I’m not trying to be radical.
Farsan: Of course, see yeah, no.
Ann: I’m talking on limits and um…
Farsan: To let the other person take it easy. I mean…
Ann: Yeah, yeah and use shifts, like not everyone I know we are becoming diverse. We’re not just having nine-to-five shifts. Companies are really changing that and working from home or you know, we’re giving more diverse options about how we can the job done but we still need to remember, that we have to rest to maximize, cause you can’t maximize if you’re exhausted and overworked.
Farsan: Um, definitely. I mean that’s, that’s what it is. See, this is the difference over here it’s like overworked and this is like maximization becomes a problem. In third world countries, problem, is there’s not…
Ann: The problem’s the opposite.
Farsan: It’s the opposite. I mean there’s no work, that's why people are sitting at home. That's why they get, this is why they get the, the chance to join such an organization that is, that is truly they don't think. Because what they do is, that like, okay, these what, Taliban what these people do is like, okay, you are not supposed to be, like, you’re not supposed to do, they like draw really tight guidelines. They’re keeping severe conditions and what they do is they say that you cannot, like okay, this is what you do in the way of Allah and you’ll get like, you will get seven, you will get seven really pretty girls in heaven. So, I mean that’s, you know, when it's a way of giving them incentive. That know, okay, you do this and you get that but in this world won't get anything. So that's, that’s their way of saying that but I think, I think that your totally right because I think the basis of all the problem is loss of education because there’s not enough education.
Ann: They’re not taking care of; their government is not taking care of them.
Farsan: Not taken care of.
Ann: So they have nowhere to go.
Farsan: We don’t have enough schools.
Ann: You don't feed them and you’re not educating them and not, I’m not saying make them scholars, I’m saying give them enough.
Farsan: Education, take care for themselves.
Ann: To give them opportunities to make those decisions on their own, yeah.
Farsan: Yeah, I mean that’s, that’s…
Ann: Yeah, I would love for everybody to have everything. I’m one of those who wouldn't have limits. I would have college free all the way up to the top.
Farsan: Totally, but do you think, you think 9/11 attacks could have been stopped by any way?
Ann: Could they’ve been stopped, hmm. I think history, throughout history there will always be tragic events and there has to be cause you wouldn't know how to stay enlightened if you didn't have tragedy. So I think it’s part of life, but do I think on those kind of scales? Uh, that’s pretty scary! The tsunami scares me on that level of destruction, you know? Um, 9/11, that kind of destruction I don't know the right word is for it, I don’t know but it’s just not, you don't know good until you know bad but you don’t need, no one needs a lesson like that, no one needs to see the tsunami to know they have to be kinder to each other. It shouldn't have to come to that.
Farsan: Yeah, I mean, you, you…
Ann: And I don't believe in a punishing God. I’m not one of those people and that upsets me. God, why would he do this? You know what? God loves people too much to hurt them and kill them, I don't think it’s God. I don't think God gives people diseases or I don't think it’s God who makes you disabled. I heard one woman speak one time, her child was disabled in a wheel chair, had some sort of a disorder that came on with birth or something. God knew that she would be a trooper and get herself through this. What? I don’t, I don’t understand that! God gave you a daughter to be disabled? I don't think so. It’s something I can’t fathom. A God wouldn't do that. A God I don’t think would teach lessons through, through you know, rape, through death. Yeah, we all have to die but not violent deaths like that. Like, to me I think there’s definitely another force in the universe that supplies the disaster part of it because I don't think a God can do that to his people. You know as a parent I don't think I can kill my child to give him a lesson. I don't think I can take his arm off to show him what it’s like to not have one. So a God loves his people too much to hurt them or to make them disabled or to give them AIDS. Do you understand my point?
Ann: Different religions have different ways of looking at that and I think religion separates people. But I think if you look at it on a very spiritual level of what a God really means…
Farsan: No and uh.
Ann: as opposed to what, another force. I don't even want to call it evil. I don't know the right word but there is definitely another force that works.
Farsan: You know like in Islam, people that the religion, the religion says that God loves a child, loves a person more than like seventy mothers. So I’m connecting it to what you are saying. So if he loves his people…
Ann: So much.
Farsan: so much, why would he do that?
Ann: He would never do it. He would look at, he wouldn’t make that baby born disabled, he wouldn't do it. There’s hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people every day that are in wheel chairs that go to facilities because they can’t live normal functional lives. They’re born with all types of Down’s syndrome and autism and God does that? I don't think so. There’s something else that interferes in the process.
Farsan: Religion wise, I mean thinking wise, mentality, anything I think I would agree with that because you know if you love, if you love your people…
Ann: You can’t hurt them.
Farsan: so much, you can't.
Ann: You can't hurt them, you’re gonna give them food, you’re gonna shelter them, you’re gonna give them clothes, you’d give them medicine. There’s another force.
Ann: I didn't mean to turn this conversation into um spiritual or religious.
Farsan: No, I totally understand because I, I believe…
Ann: Because I am not a religious person by nature but I do believe in, in uh spirituality.
Farsan: But then see uh, I wouldn't say you converted into another sort of a conversation…
Farsan: because it’s you know that’s what conversation is, it turns from, it takes one point, it makes another turn and you know, you never know where it goes so you know because one thing is connected to the other, you know?
Ann: Right, especially in this case.
Farsan: Oh yeah, definitely. There’s so many things involved, there’s so many things connected with the 9/11 catastrophe that, that it’s totally…
Ann: I think everybody now at this point needs to contribute to life and society and do their part. Not just because 9/11 happened, just “because.” Because we’re humans and because we have to maximize how we can better treat people, how we can better eat, and how we can better take care of our children and our friends and our neighbors. How we get around every day from point A to point B. I think everyone has a responsibility and if they understood that, we wouldn't have this chaos that we have. And that's what I think 9/11 should have forced people, just like the tsunami, would have forced people. You don't need a disaster like that to wake you up, do you? Or can’t you just be kind to people anyway on an everyday basis, can’t you, you know?
Farsan: That’s what it is, I mean.
Ann: Is that the kind of wakeup call we need to be more supportive and become a community? No! Get up every morning and be that community. Do your job to the maximum. You know be that purposeful person.
Farsan: Yeah, that's, that’s, that’s so right. I mean.
Ann: Without 9/11, with 9/11, you know, with the tsunami, without the tsunami. Look what happened to Pakistan, the earthquake, oh my goodness. Those people went through a horrendous winter right after that earthquake.
Ann: No, no supplies, no food, no nothing! Nothing…
Farsan: No nothing.
Ann: Nothing, and the number of people who died, it was unimaginable. Okay, I can't even think of that figure and the number of people.
Farsan: You know the problem like you, it is so like you know, like over here in America people are like overworked, over there no one is overworked.
Ann: They’re not using their potential at all.
Farsan: They’re not using their potential at all. On the other hand, now I would like to say like they don't use their potential. Like it’s not that they don’t use it and they want to, but there’s some people, there’s some leaders, they just don't want to use their potential. I mean they’re getting, they’re getting okay, they’re…
Ann: I don't know why, why don’t they wanna?
Ann: They’re not useful to the society, they don't practice, they don't participate, they don't have purpose. What's their purpose?
Farsan: They’ll get bribed, they’ll just you know, all they’re thinking…
Ann: So that's their purpose is to be bribed?
Farsan: They, they’ll get bribed.
Ann: That's why I’m telling you, there's another force out there.
Ann: There’s another force because it wouldn’t happen.
Farsan: I mean you know what would happen, an authority would give the money out. Okay, let’s like, let’s support the people who were affected by the earthquake. Let’s give them food, water, supplies, blah-blah-blah.
Ann: And then something comes in between them.
Farsan: And something comes in between that.
Ann: The supplies don’t get there.
Farsan: You come to know that the person who is responsible for that.
Ann: Sold the items, Re-sold it on the market.
Farsan: He, it was never there or what he gave was something cheaper than that was supposed to offered. There’s always some sort of, some sort of thing that comes in between.
Ann: I told you we’re humans there’s always going to be error but we can’t expect perfection but we can definitely be accountable for, for our purpose. People have to be held accountable, you’re not held accountable then it wouldn't matter. And I think that's what happens all the way up from the top down in any country. Where you’re not held accountable and the next man is not held accountable, and the next man is not held accountable, it goes all the way downhill.
Farsan: That’s, that’s true.
Ann: And you destroy yourself as a person and everybody else around you. One bad thing you do today doesn’t affect one person just like one good thing. One good thing you do, some sort of trickles somehow even if you don't see it. That one bad thing, that one lady gets robbed in Central Park but it’s still a trickle of society. So…
Farsan: It goes from person to person.
Farsan: So that’s, that so…
Ann: So do you have any other questions for me or we’re good?
Farsan Actually there’s uh, do you know what the time is?
Ann: Time is now, quarter to twelve.
Farsan: So it’s been how long?
Ann: I don’t know but it feels like an hour.
Farsan: Okay, this is about, this is about, two more questions. I asked you like would you think this could be stopped?
Ann: Do I think it could be stopped? No, I think history will always have disasters but I don't know about the level, maybe the levels would be different. We wouldn’t have these escalated…
Farsan: A disaster of this level, a disaster of…
Ann: Any, whether induced by people or well so was the earthquake, so was the tsunami because if we didn't um, burn garbage or throw plastic in the water we wouldn't have the global warming that we have so its all back down to people because we don't respect the earth or each other or religions or so I think we have always had disaster cause we are humans, we’re not perfect but I think the levels would be smaller if we were smarter. We handled things more…
Farsan: And, do you think we as a community, like the whole community, hold on, taking care like can we do, can we as a community stop such things from happening?
Ann: If everyone’s accountable, yes. If everyone’s accountable and has a purpose, yes. But can we do that? Can it be done? Education can help, education can help us there.
Farsan: Definitely, yeah I think education can…
Ann: And I don't think any one life, or child or person should be left out in any country, in any place. Every mind, every person is worth the education.
Farsan: Because as many as, as many people would be left out.
Ann: You can go to the simplest village and go and want to teach and you'll be the happiest man in the world and you can go to the most sophisticated school with more sophisticated equipment and like it there too.
Ann: You know, there isn’t a place that you wouldn't enrich a mind if you didn't try.
Farsan: So emotionally you weren’t affected? Like you…
Ann: Emotionally yes but I was more angry because I understood it on a bigger scale. I understood that it wasn't, you know, a personal attack on my life but yet an attack on the world and how we live and what we do and our polices. So I’m angry that we’ve come to this point when we have so much resources to have not made those kind of escalading disasters.
Farsan: It’s disturbing.
Ann: We really don't have to be in Iraq all this time.
Ann: We didn't have to stay in Vietnam as long as we did. Like there’s…
Farsan: So many people lost their lives and it’s not that, it's also civilians there. Like they’re, I don’t think they’re responsible for anything. Civilians are civilians be it like they’d be any, be it any country in the world and they feel the same way, you know political. Like Pakistan and India, they’ve been in war for the past fifty years.
Ann: Yeah, yeah I know.
Farsan: Like civilians they don't care, they just wanna be, they’re like okay, leave us alone, you know? Leave us, leave us free.
Ann: No I understand exactly what you mean. I think education and accountability are two things that would really maximize.
Farsan: Maximize, stop such a disaster from happening in the future, totally.
Ann: Yeah with everything, with respect to the products we make that pollute the world and the air and the--everything.
Farsan: So what made you angry, like you say, you say you know it made me angry?
Ann: What made me angry? You know we have the potential and we don't use it, that's what makes me angry. When you know you can help someone and you choose not to. You know you can make a better decision if you maximize yourself but you don't, that makes me angry. Makes me angry with my children's teachers in school, makes me angry here at work. If I’m counting on someone to support something else I’m doing and they don't maximize that upsets me. You know but I can't be them, I can't work for them, everyone has to be accountable. Then we go back to accountability.
Farsan: Have you seen the movie Fahrenheit 9/11?
Ann: Certain things I just won’t watch.
Ann: I saw a lot on 9/11 and it’s enough for me right now for a long time.
Farsan: No I, I mean, you being there.
Ann: You know the people jumping, the plane, the shake of the building, the whole the running with my children, the not having the place to sleep with water and you know the whole.
Farsan: It’s terrible, I mean.
Ann: Phones not working, not knowing where my sister was and you know just everything just piled on top of piled. I saw soldiers outside with Uzis and Hummers and all kinds of things that, you know. Then I went on vacation, took my children to swim with dolphins as a healing experience right after 9/11, that summer. And we got on the plane and the snobby, rude woman who worked for the airline you know, who was looking for terrorists had me and my two kids pulled over to the side to check our feet if we had any, you know, paraphernalia that we were taking on the plane.
Farsan: Oh my God!!
Ann: I had on flip flop sandals and I still had to take my shoes off. They made my five year old son take his sneakers off to look at his feet. Now, I don't know why that lady did that. Was she being a cocky, nasty thing? Yeah. Was she uneffective not maximizing her position? Yeah. Did I look like a terrorist, do our names look like terrorists? No, and this was our first trip after 9/11 and I said to the man checking my son, he just went through 9/11, can you please not scare him while you’re checking his feet? That makes me angry.
I don't know if I looked too pretty for her, or because I had two children that were gorgeous and maybe she didn't have any children or maybe she didn't have a husband or maybe she argued with her boyfriend that day or maybe her boss was on her case to check only females and children that day. I don’t know but all I know is that she said “check them.” We were second on line to board the plane because they do children first, elderly and stuff like that. And my daughter is only a year older than my son. So he was five she was six, so if he was four she was five. And then you have two other officials working at a table checking bags just before you get on. Seriously, you know, checking my son's feet. That's, you know…
Ann: that's insanely stupid. That is not maximizing anything.
Farsan: It happened with me too.
Ann: But then I had to explain to my children what that means, that's the hardest part. These people are protecting you, my kids. “Protecting me, mommy we just got bombed out of our house, we have no school to go to. We go to a different school now. They’re helping us by checking my feet? They’re supposed to be protecting me, not checking me.” How do you make sense of that as six year old?
Farsan: You can't.
Ann: That was I think that was Jet Blue Air, I never flew them again. I figured if they had to have policies enforced by the government that they should enforce them properly.
Farsan: Um, I mean I went through the same thing. Um, I was born here, raised here a bit. Then I was raised in Lahore, Pakistan. So I go back every semester because my parents are back. So it's been four years, five years that I've been here and uh, nothing, nothing like you know, I traveled after 9/11, before 9/11 a lot of times. I used to come down to New York every year.
Ann: And how often do you get harassed?
Farsan: I got harassed, I wouldn't say I got harassed, but some weird behavior. Like my flight was coming from Dubai to New York, it was a straight flight. So I came, I landed and like, we’re chosen for a random spot check. I go to the other room and uh, you know they just ask me some questions, what do you do? Where are you from? Now I expect that us, like our government, our country, our agencies are efficient enough not to take only me away from that aircraft.
Ann: See how unacceptable that is, but you are from Pakistan, I’m not.
Farsan: Yeah, exactly!
Ann: So they and neither is my five year old son, so it made it less acceptable that they were harassing my child. Not that it's acceptable that they harassed you not by far, but you are right our intelligence was it maximized they would know better.
Farsan: They would know better and they would not take people on the side.
Ann: And if you are doing everyone, then you do everyone.
Farsan: Then you do everyone.
Ann: You don’t just do my five your old boy, you do every person walking on the plane.
Farsan: Yeah or for that matter you just don’t pick up anyone who looks from Arab descent.
Ann: (laughs) you know so it’s things like that can, that becomes frustrating because we’re again not maximizing our potential and we have it. Oh it’s going to be expensive, it's going to be this - we don't have to fingerprint everybody and look at their fingerprints again. You have everybody's name and tickets and there’s ways to do it without spending billions and billions. Cause we’re spending billions on war and it's not helping us.
Farsan: Yeah, I mean we’re going in a deficit.
Ann: Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!
Farsan: That thing on 14th Street Union Square, it’s like dropping down.
Ann: It’s outrageous, it’s outrageous.
Farsan: So you uh, one last thing,
Farsan: So you said uh, your sister, you were worried your sister, your sister?
Ann: Well, we all live downtown, they all work downtown. I had a relative in the seventy something, no, was she on the seventieth floor? No, sixty-four and the plane hit on seventy something, the first plane. So she escaped the building that day while others didn't that she worked with. Um, my father of course works in New York City, he’s all over the city on that day and, you know, just your closest people that you would want to know were safe you couldn't speak to them. Phone lines were down, traffic was at a standstill, you weren't sure who was coming home, so that kind of thing. Cause you know, usually you pick up the phone and you find out where they are and on 9/11 you couldn’t.
Farsan: Alright, thank you so much.
Ann: Alright pleasure, hope your project works well. I hope I was a good candidate.
Farsan: Thank you so much for your time, definitely you were, definitely you were because the main, sole purpose of my interview is not like to you know, just what happened? What did you do? It's about, it’s about taking the way of thinking of people, different people and how others think about different things and especially such a catastrophe that took place on our soil. So thanks a lot and…
Ann: I hope that you are purposeful and maximize yourself every day, because I will.
Farsan: Thank you so much, I really appreciate your time.
Ann: Okay, thanks!
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