Gabriela De La Concha
Lehman Brothers

Farsan Bukhari

 

Farsan: Since when have you been in New York?

Gabriela: Uh, I moved to New York City six years ago.

Farsan: Okay, so basically you were born and raised in California?

Gabriela: Yes, born and raised in Trilussa, California and I just decided to get up and move with my friends when I was twenty-three years old and Iíve been here six years now.

Farsan: And your family is still back there in California?

Gabriela: Still in California.

Farsan: So you might be going and coming back pretty often then?

Gabriela: Yes, I travel at least, I go back to home to visit at least four times a year.

Farsan: Okay, four times a year, that's not bad at all. So since when have you been working here at Lehman Brothers?

Gabriela: Um, I've been here actually for six years. I started working at another firm um, only for about three months and then I moved to Lehman Brothers and I've been with Lehman Brothers ever since.

Farsan: Okay, and how long have you been a student at Pace for?

Gabriella: Um, I've been a student at Pace for about two-and-half-years, actually two years. I started part-time and then started going full-time last year.

Farsan: Okay I see.

Gabriella: But, but um, before Pace I was going to Fordham, so I'll be done with Pace in December.

Farsan: In December youíre gonna graduate?

Gabriella: Yeah.

Farsan: That sounds pretty good. So after that you are just going to continue working? You want to stay in New York after that?

Gabriella: I think I'll stay in New York for a few years and then I plan on moving somewhere else. Somewhere where itís a little sunnier and more relaxed like, Florida or California.

Farsan: Yeah, that's a good idea, actually I want to do that. Like I want to go back home, Iím going to be graduating this May, so I am going to be going back home for another couple of years. I just want to take it easy for a while. So you know itís like that.  So what department do you work for here?

Gabriella: I work at Emerging Market Strategy.

Farsan: Okay.

Gabriella: And what we do is we research different countries that are um, entering the investment grade area of the market. So we research countries like Brazil and Peru, Ecuador and how their economy is doing. Um, and I've been in this group for almost two years.

Farsan: Okay and your firm is basically related to financial, itís a financial institution?

Gabriella: Yes, weíre an investment bank and um, my department deals mostly with bonds.

Farsan: Okay yeah that sounds good, its good scope. So you have uh, your firm emphasizes on countries from Middle East?

Gabriella: Uh no, mostly Latin American countries.

Farsan: Mostly like South America?

Gabriella: Yes.

Farsan: Okay, so what was your routine on that Tuesday of 9/11?

Gabriella: WellÖ

Farsan: Like how did your day start and?

Gabriella: Actually 9/11ís pretty interesting because um, Lehman Brothers, the office that weíre sitting in right now, is a new building that we purchased after 9/11 because prior to 9/11 our headquarters were uh, located  at 200 Vesey Street which is also Three World Financial Center. So we uh, were right across the street from the World Trade Center.

Farsan: That was also one of the buildings that got affected I guess?

Gabriella: Yes.

Farsan: Okay.

Gabriella: Our 19th floor was completely taken out. Um, a lot of uh, we shared the building with Amex. So we had to evacuate the building and leave the building and eventually relocate to a new building because uh, we couldnít return to the site obviously for obvious reasons but there was a lot of damage sustained to our building. So we made a decision of, our CO made a decision to relocate from the area and from the building, we just purchased this new building.

Farsan: Okay, so how, how did your day start? Like was it a normal day, you have any meetings scheduled?

Gabriella: Um, well my daily routine would have consisted of me going and being at work at about eight oíclock in the morning and I worked on the trading floor, so the day started early and ended around six oíclock. But um, I believe September 11th took place, that was, that was a Monday because the weekend before September 11th I went to San Diego to visit my family. My mom had actually just turned fifty years old so we planned a huge surprise party for her. And my sister at the time was living in the Caribbean and I was living in New York and we, we uh, threw this huge surprise party for my mom and her birthdayís September 10th. 

Farsan: Thatís wonderful!

Gabriella: So we were all in San Diego. We had this great party. We saw a bunch of family that we hadn't seen in ages and um, we had a really great time. And usually my routine when I go to visit San Diego is um, I take a flight late at night, the red-eye from San Diego, so it leaves around nine or ten pm and it flies directly to New York and I land first thing in the morning, at about six o' clock in the morning. So that weekend I had done just that, I went to San Diego, had a great time, hopped on the red-eye and it was an American Airlines flight. And that morning um, I was actually confused because you know I was just in New York for a few years, Iím an assistant, Iím looking for every way to save money in New York City. Obviously we all are. So coming from the airport, from JFK that morning I didn't know if I should save a few bucks by taking the Super Shuttle or splurge and just get a car service um, take a taxi, you know, you always have that idea, what should I, how I should get back into the city.

Farsan: Yeah, usually what people say is you know when people, when something like when something unfortunate is going to happen, you get different kind of vibes about it, like in different ways, not exact, like itís not that you predict but you get different vibes of doing something that you don't do in routine.

Gabriella: Exactly, but for some reason I was just indecisive that morning, I didn't know. If I took a cab I'd pay forty-five dollars but I'd get to the office right away and I wouldn't risk being late and I could just, I had my clothes with me. So my plan was that I go straight to the office and we have a gym. Um, we had a gym in that building that overlooked the World Trade Center. So I was going to just go straight to the office, use their shower facilities, throw on the suit that I had in my bag and go straight to work. That way I was on time and at work and ready. But that morning I just I don't know why I just decided to take the Super Shuttle. So I figured itís early, thereís probably no one using it, itís only going to cost me like $12 and I'll be there in no time.

Farsan: Yeah, a lot of factors. I mean especially when you are working you want to save money. It's the beginning you know?

Gabriella: Right!

Farsan: You work, work and work it up.

Gabriella: So I don't know why I decided to take the Super Shuttle. I called the Super Shuttle waited around, it took forever. So here its six-thirty, I've been waiting for half hour, at this point I want to take a cab, whatever. So finally the Super Shuttle shows up. I get on about seven oíclock then we're faced with traffic getting into the city and a ...

Farsan: Because the rush hour starts.

Gabriella: Rush hour. Iím, you know, Iím kicking myself for deciding to take the Super Shuttle instead of taking the taxi. So Iím running late now itís you know, eight something and Iím almost at my office, Iím you know, Iím running late. Iím hoping no oneís going to notice. I still have to shower so Iím nervous and um, at this point the Super Shuttle has dropped everyone off and weíre getting closer to  and I just remember seeing a lot of people standing on the street looking up at the sky. And Iím totally just you know, yeah, Iím consumed with why is there so much traffic? You know, what am I going to do, Iím late should I call the office? I canít believe this.

Farsan: Yeah, preoccupied by thought I mean.

Gabriela: Just totally clueless and oblivious too.

Farsan: Because weíre not used to seeing that, what happened over here. Everything goes in a flow you know.

Gabriela: Right soÖ

Farsan: You don't see people standing and looking and something everyone keeps on going.

Gabriela: Well then we keep going towards my office but I notice now it's really weird, a lot of people are just standing out on the street and just looking up. And when you're in  New York, I donít know, you know, everyone knows thereís so many buildings you can't see the sky, you just see buildings. But then we come to a stop light where there is a slice of sky you know, available to the eye. So I see a bunch of smoke and I see, I catch a glimpse of one of the towers and the first plane had already crashed into the building. But the last thing of I could think of is that a plane, you know, crashed into the building, it just looked like, the first thought that came to my mind was how stupid, some pilot of some Cessna plane ran into the building, like what an idiot. Someone is going to be in major, major trouble today because it looked like a little itty, bitty hole and this huge monstrous building. There was smoke coming out and all I could see is papers, like sheets of papers flying like confetti all throughout the sky. So Iím thinking oh my gosh, this is, someoneís in big trouble. This is, I canít believe that someone crashed a Cessna into the World Trade Center. So the driver also realized it, you know he stopped the car and uh, looked up the window and said "oh my gosh, look at that!" So everyone on the street, now I understand what everyoneís looking at. So we come to a halt, weíre kind of looking just looking at this little hole in the building and then all of a sudden I see the second plane hit the second tower.

Farsan: Oh my God!

Gabriela: So I hear it, I see it, and this plane looks gigantic, it looked like gigantic, like jumbo jet running right into the building. So all these clips you see on TV is exactly what it looks like. It was like a huge bird rammed into the second tower, there was fire, there was smoke, black dark smoke. There was everyone standing on the street looking up, screaming and gasping and running like now, now Iím scared, Iím shocked, itís not a mistake, itís not an accident like holy cow weíre under attack. Like this isn't an accident, someone is trying to do this to us. So now Iím completely paranoid. Forget about work, forget about being late, forget about the Super Shuttle likeÖ

Farsan: Forget about .

Gabriela: Forget about everything, I mean Iím just basically sitting there shocked, scared, wondering what the heck is going on and where do I go from here. I see grown men sitting on the curb crying like with their faces in their hands. People just running and screaming, it's like all of a sudden mayhem everywhere!

Farsan: Hell broke loose.

Gabriela: Hell broke loose, thereís this plane, thereís fire, thereís smoke. I don't know what to do. Iím in a Super Shuttle, my cell phone. I try to make a call and it doesn't even ring anywhere. It's like completely, I guess everyone was trying to make a phone call because thereís just no service.

Farsan: That happened with me I was in Long Island at that time. It was my first year in college. Because um, I came from Pakistan so it was my first year of college and uh, I attended this college in Long Island. So my parents were trying to call me and of course they knew I wasnít anywhere near the city. But they were you know, trying to call me and see if everything was okay. And I remember when they, when they tried to call me, it wouldn't get through because the phone lines were like jam packed.

Gabriela: Yeah, I couldn't make a call and then all of a sudden it hits me--my roommate works on the 19th floor of One World Trade Center.

Farsan: Oh my God.

Gabriela: And my other roommate works in the New York Stock Exchange. And my building is across the street and my friends and my boss and my--now Iím panicking. Now Iím like oh my God, I wonder if my friends are okay, I wonder if my one friend and  the guy I went on a date with like couple a months ago who works on like the very top floor of the second World Trader, Trade Center is alive. Like all of a sudden I just, I was just in absolute shock. So and so was the Super Shuttle driver. Weíre both just sitting there safe cause weíre in a car but we just don't know what to do now. Can't use the phone, canít go to work, you can't, everything is completely, I don't know what to do. So anyway he asked me you know, where do you want me take you and I said you can't take me to work obviously, because they are not going to let us down there and theyíre probably leaving. So I told him to take me to um, my boyfriend at that time's apartment because he wasn't working that day. So he dropped me off. We almost forgot to pay, I almost forgot to pay him; he almost forgot to take money from me. We were just completely in different places.

Farsan: Of course you like, everyone is thinking in a different wavelength that day. I mean like it was something so shocking to people all around the world that you know, it was like you know, you strike someone with the needle and theyíre like oh my God, they get shocked.

Gabriela: Yeah and on the way to his apartment we just saw floods of people walking uptown. Crowds of buses just filled. People gathered around, mobs around like television stores where they had televisions on display in the windows. Just looking and searching for any ounce of information about like what the heck is going on. I had no idea what was going, I didn't think it was a terrorist attack. I thought something just weird happened with air traffic control or I don't know.  Just the last thing on my mind was that it was like a Middle Eastern hijacking, you know, terrorist attack. I don't know. So all of a sudden my phone rings. Out of nowhere my phone starts to work. So I answered it and its one of my best friends from California who got through to my cell phone. One of my friends that I was with you know at my mom's party andÖ

Farsan: Oh okay, one of your friends back from California.

Gabriela: Yeah! So she called me and she was like, ďGabby are you okay?Ē And I was like oh my gosh, you are never going to believe this. I saw a plane crash into the World Trade Center and I have no idea what's going on. But you're never going to believe this, thereís like all this stuff going on over here. And she said ďI know Iím watching it on the news.Ē And I would have never known that this was being televised around the world. I just thought that this was something small like an accident or something.

Farsan: Yeah everyone, I thought like that, like I remember I had my first class was like at eight or nine so I didn't go to class that day. And I was looking, I was watching the TV, I was having breakfast in the cafť and I was watching TV and suddenly, you know itís like a movie. You know, you see like a big monster picking up buildings something like it was like a movie. You see a plane crash into a building. Iím like holy, Iím like they don't show movies in school. It's more like a news channel or something.

Gabriela: Yeah and I knew that right now in New York City this was going on. I guess New York Cityís always on the news because itís New York City. So if anything happens every one hears about it all around the world but I had no idea that, that quickly someone I know like on the opposite side of the country, would already see what was going on and knew what I was going through. So Iím trying to explain what was going on but sheís like already seen it, it's on the news. And she was just calling to see if I was okay, because everyone knew that I worked across the street from the World Trade Center. So then I knew oh my gosh, if my friend knows then my mom must know and my family must know and they must be worried sick. So I've got to get in touch with them but I can't because my phone doesn't work and. So I just told her listen, I don't know what is going on, um, my phone has not being working obviously there is something huge going on here, could you just let my family know that Iím okay.

So now I am thinking about them because I know they are thinking about me and Iím still trying to figure out what to do here. Um, but now after talking to my family, I heard that my aunt who lives in Missouri, so you know you have to remember this is happening, all taking place at like eight-thirty in the morning New York time which is five-thirty in the morning California time. So theyíre all asleep, Iím thinking no one knows. I don't know how my friend Natasha heard because I think she has like a really early job so she has to get up super early. But what I hear now or what I understand now is that my aunt in Missouri, who is just an hour behind New York saw this, knew that I worked close to the World Trade Center, called my mom in California. And when my mom answered the phone you know sleeping, she said all she heard was my aunt say ďoh my God thereís a plane that crashed into the World Trade Center and Gabbyís in it!Ē

Farsan: Oh my God!

Gabriela: Because whenever I would send an e-mail out my auto signature says Three World Financial Center. So my aunt somehow interpreted that as World Financial Center. So my mom was like what? Youíre crazy Gabby is in the World Trade Center and thereís a fire? Like she didnít understand, so of course she turns on the news and she reads, "American Airlines flight crashes into the World Trade Center."

Farsan: Oh my God.

Gabriela: So my mom, all what she can remember is I just dropped Gabby off at American Airlines last night because sheís going to New York, sheís going home to New York. So sheís thinking Gabbyís on the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. So my mom wakes up, my sister wakes up, everyone you know whoís in town for this surprise party is watching the news now, wondering if Iím in this plane, so theyíre completely freaked out. They call American Airlines to see if Iím on the flight and Iím not on the flight. But now my momís thinking she knows my plan; Iím probably in the shower getting ready for work and I don't know what is going on and Iím probably trapped. So everyoneís just worried.

Farsan: Yeah like a million kind of things come into a personís mind. Like what if sheís in there? What if she went there? What must she be doing? Where must she be? Is she okay?

Gabriela: Am I alive?

Farsan: Is she alive? Yeah, a million kind of things happen.

Gabriela: Especially after you just have this great, beautiful family get together surprise party, my mom. You know we all flew in, it was just a great weekend. She just thought that, God this canít be happening because maybe it was too good to be true and this is, I, I who knows. So they find out Iím not on the plane and no one can get through to me anymore. The cell phone thing is just, forget about the cell phones. I get, I get to my boyfriendís place and he had just given me his TV because he was getting a new one. So he doesn't have a TV and he lives across the street from the Empire State Building at the time. So I get there and heís still asleep but Iím like totally freaking out and paranoid. He has no idea what Iím talking about. So we were trying to listen to the radio because we don't have a TV and finally I get a phone call on my phone and itís my roommate from the New York Stock Exchange calling from me a pay phone, asking me where I am. So I tell her to come, to come, to come there. Weíre still trying to figure out if my other roommate is in the Towers. At this point, we are trying to get everyone together because no one can get in touch with everyone. So she makes it and we had just got in an argument before I left um, San Diego. She actually flew in the day before. She went to the party as well and we were just totally hugging and you know, "Iím so sorry about the stupid fight we got in last week." All of a sudden nothing was relevant, it was just, we were just happy to be alive and nothing else was important at that time about whatever argument we had or...

Farsan: Yeah, it's a natural phenomenon. We don't realize good until we see bad.

Gabriela: Exactly. So we were, we hugged for the longest time. We cried and then we were on the search for our friend who worked on the 19th floor of the Twin Towers, the second Tower that got hit. So anyway we hear from everyone, we get everyone gathered, and itís just amazing in that first couple hours we were, our other friend who works in midtown and us who were in  where that happened, and the magnitude of emotions between the two of us. You have one friend whoís close to all of us and just like all of us but he lives or works in midtown. So heís hearing about all this stuff going on  watching on TV and yeah, heís there, heís New York City, you know its 9/11, but for my roommate and I who were  and we heard it, we saw it, we felt it and we see it like happening around us and we are amongst it. Like still to this day, it just feels like more of an experience to us versus him even though he was in New York. Like being a part of like seeing everything that happened isÖ

Farsan: Yeah, yeah because itís you know the thing is like um, I talked, I interviewed another lady about this, she works in Pace, and so you know she said the same thing. Like life was very normal in other boroughs of New York, New Jersey, even uptown for that matter because you know, the most, you know everything looked the same. The only area that looked you know, looked like a total war aftermath or something like that was  or the um, place where actually the World Trade Centers once stood.

Gabriela: Yeah, the financial district was just; I mean it went from being a place where everyone who visits New York has to go there. Like, you can't not go to see the World Trade Center.

Farsan: Definitely.

Gabriela: And for me it was a place where I had a great job. I had just moved to New York from being a waitress in San Diego. I had this great um, corporate job, working on the trading floor. It was like my first real job. I made great friends. Afterwards, weíd go downstairs and um, sit by the uh, water and there were certain bars and restaurants we went to and it was a great place in the summer because there were boats parked there. And just it was great area to hang out in.

Farsan: Yeah, of course, like um, this exact Financial District I think itís personally, I think itís one of my favorite parts of Manhattan. Like, it's a really nice place to hang out, especially in the summer.

Gabriela: Yeah, you got that path along the water. So it went for me from being this great place to I never want to go down there ever again, I cannot. Even till this day, if I have to go to like Century 21 or when I go to Pace. I go to Pace and I come back. I still don't feel like Iím comfortable walking by that area, because it was a horrible day. I mean you see people jumping from the buildings.

Farsan: Oh my God, thatís terrible.

Gabriela: You see smoke for weeks and you had this smell that you had to endure for like, I think it was like more than a month.

Farsan: A year.

Gabriela: Yeah , it was months of just like the smell of burned bodies. It was um, it was a horrible day and the weirdest thing is, is like this morning when I got up. I canít remember if I brushed my teeth like before I got into shower or afterwards, or if I blow- dried my hair before I put my make up on. Like I can't remember what I did this morning, but that day, I remember everything perfectly. Like it's like a step by step memory in my mind that will like I will never forget. It was just like every moment, every minute, every second mattered because it was just, it was just like uh, it was like so surreal. It was like this dream or nightmare that um, I'll never forget.

Farsan: So what happened to your friend who was on the 19th floor?

Gabriela: Well, we all ended up meeting up and eventually we found, at that time I had three roommates so there was four of us living together and um. It was my friend Megan and I who moved here together. You know, six years ago we just decided we were both waitressing, letís move to New York City. So it was us two. And then later on, two of my male friends said hey, if Gabby and Megan can make it, they've got jobs and an apartment, we've got business degrees--lets go get a job in New York. So these two friends of ours who, were also good friends, moved to New York and were crashing at our place until they found jobs. So luckily one of my guy friends worked in midtown, the other guy friend um, he got the job in the World Trade Center, working at HSBC, doing really well starting out and um, we were all still living together. So we finally I guess over, you know, over time throughout the day calls started coming through. So we got in touch with everyone and we finally got in touch with our friend from the World Trade Center. He barely made it out!

Farsan: Really?

Gabriela: Now he said that he was sitting at his desk and he heard something and he saw it. He saw the first plane, you know, he heard it, he felt it, he knew something happened to the other Tower and they made an announcement in his office. They said, "everything is fine. There is no reason to leave the building. There is something that happened in the building next door to us but everything is calm, everything is safe in the building. Thereís no reason to leave.Ē So he said he was walking with another uh, person from the office. I think actually it was like a maintenance guy or like a housekeeper and my friend said, "forget that Iím out of here, Iím going downstairs, you coming?" And that he said, "no they said itís cool, I don't want to get into trouble, Iím gonna stay behind." So my friend proceeded to leave and uh, when he was on his way down because he said he walked up to the elevator and he said uh-uh, (no, no) Iím not taking the elevator, I am taking the stairs. So he was smart, he just thought all this stuff ahead of time. Heís in the stairwell and the second plane hits while heís in the stairwell.

Farsan: Must have shook him.

Gabriela: So he completely freaked out. It was a black out, he was rushing with a bunch of people down the stairs. He ended up having to evacuate through the subway, with a ton of people. He came out without a shirt. He had taken off his shirt, wrapped it around his face to breathe because it was powder everywhere. Um, he made it out like shaking you know, completely a mess and his friend never made it out. The friend that he was with, who could of come out with him, stayed behind because of the announcement, never made it out. So it was a, a very close call for him and uh, he had always dreamed of working in the World Trade Center, but that day, it was a complete nightmare because he almost lost his life.

Farsan: Yeah, I mean it's really, I think it's crazy and uh, I think about the announcement, this is whatís wrong. I think people like, it's more the reason more according to what is work wise right, what is right work wise, rather than thinking critically or analytically about it. But you know, World Trade Center were two buildings, but okay so likeÖ

Gabriela: Well in contrast, I heard that in my building, my work, where I should have been, they said, and this is all happening across the street, they said everybody out now. So everyone just, ďare you sure?Ē No, the boss and the mangers said, everyone out now.  So everyone left, stood there, and watched everyone jump off the buildings, they watched everything happen. Um, so a lot of the people in my office were you know, emotionally disturbed because, well everybody in that area was because they saw everything happen. And luckily, we didn't lose anyone from our building.

Farsan: Thank God.

Gabriela: But we did lose obviously clients and friends and, and relatives. One of my friendís sisters was there. Um, but luckily all my friends that I know, even that guy that I had dated you know, a month prior to that was on a business trip in Dallas. So no one I know thankfully, or that was close to me, passed away from that.

Farsan: So the rest of the day you stayed at uh, your, your friend's place, in uh, across the Empire State Building you said?

Gabriela: Well, I asked everyone to meet there just because I wanted to make sure that we were all together and then um, once we started hearing and knowing what was going on and that it was a terrorist attack and that there was planes in D.C. and planes everywhere and we didn't know what was next. Um, we clearly looked across the street and saw that we are near the Empire State Building and decided we needed to get the heck out of there. So we joined the rest of Manhattan and in this procession uptown. There was people filling the street just walking because the subways weren't working, the buses were filled, there was people panicking and screaming and starting fights. Um, everyone was in a state of panic like that wanted to use some sort of transportation system. But we just decided, letís just walk it's a nice day, letís just walk and at that time I lived in uptown, so walk uptown and we'll decide what weíre gonna do. Obviously weíre not going to work tomorrow; we don't have anything to do in the next few days. I think this was a Tuesday it happened, wasnít it?

Farsan: Yeah, it was a Tuesday.

Gabriela: So I think I took that Monday and spent it with my family in San Diego as like a vacation day or whatever. Because I do remember that we stayed in the city. Um, we stayed the night uptown and then um, we found my friend from the World Trade Center and we talked to him and he was really shooken up. Uh, we decided, my boyfriend at the time, his parents lived in Rochester at a lake house. So we decided, all of our parents were telling us "get the hell out of Manhattan please, something else is going to happen". Um, but actually on our work uptown, it was very interesting to me, because we saw kids playing in the park and we just thought for a second like the kids probably have no idea what is going on. Theyíre playing catch, theyíre playing in the park with their parents. The parents are trying probably very hard to keep it from them and it looked like when you got uptown to Central Park, it looked like a nice day like any other weekend because people were just sitting there just trying to absorb what happened. So it was just really weird cause something that huge, it's like happening right in front of you. You see the smoke, you see everything, you saw the buildings collapse but you at least try to keep it from the children so that they are not so, as paranoid as adults are. You know, adults are trying to hide just how scared they are and the kids were just having their time.

But anyway, we got uptown, we waited a day, we knew we didn't have to go to work so we just rented a car and drove to Rochester like five hours away. We just decided to get out of the city. We needed to just go away. I mean weíre all kids from California and um, it was a lot for us to take in and we didn't know what was going to happen next so we just packed up and left. So we got to uh, we were driving on the way up there and my friend who had just left the World Trade Center. I was waiting for him to break down because he went through something pretty heavy but all he could talk about was like, ďoh my God I was in the staircase and then this girl, and they were trying to make jokes in the staircase to help like this.Ē I guess there was a really overweight girl and they were all trying help her out and give her pep talks. He was just telling us the stories and weíre like waiting for him to cry or something because I would have been a mess, if I had just gone through what he went through. But I guess eventually, weíre in the car weíre driving to Rochester and there was a time when we were just quiet.

Farsan: Wondering just what just happened, what the heck just happened?

Gabriela: Yeah, it was just quiet, weíre driving and finally we hear him just start crying. You know heís a totally grown, strong guy, works out, you know totally confident. But he just started bawling, and I think it just hit him, like he almost died. He was in, he was in the Twin Towers.

Farsan: Damn, I had an aunt who was in the Twin Towers, she works for uh, Morgan Stanley. I think she worked for Morgan Stanley before, I don't know if she still works there. And so she was on the 68th floor when this happened, I don't know Tower One or Tower Two. So and she made it out because I remember her husband, my uncle, heís my dad's childhood friend, so you know, he came, came back to, he went back to Pakistan and he came over to see us and he was telling us the whole story. It was like, it was pretty similar to what you are telling me.

Gabriela: Yeah.

Farsan: She also barely made it out.

Gabriela: Yeah, Morgan Stanley was recognized because they didn't lose anyone from their company and they had likeÖ

Farsan: Really?

Gabriela: From what I hear, they have like some amazing security system down pat and that they were able to get everyone out. Just like the security system they follow is supposed to be like the best. I remember reading about it afterwards, Iím not sure if it's true or not but they were supposed to have a very like precise um, emergency evacuation plan that totally worked.

Farsan: That's good, so how long did you stay in Rochester?

Gabriela: We stayed in Rochester for a few um, for the rest of the weekend. So we got there around Thursday and we stayed until Sunday. And after a while, at first we were glued to the TV, wanting to find out information.

Farsan: What happened?

Gabriela: How many, they kept counting the toll, how many people had actually died, stories, you know? You know for the next like two months after September 11th there was just like everyday a new story about 9/11 and we just cried and cried and cried and cried listening to all these stories and I was trying to figure out what was going on with work, because weíre part of the New York Stock Exchange. As you know that hardly ever closes, but it did close so that was a relief. And we just after a few days decided no more 9/11; weíre shutting off the TV. Um, my ex-boyfriendís uh, parents just, we made an apple pie, we went fishing, we went out on the boat, we went to the local bar. We just did things to try to escape what had just happened because we had had enough. We had cried enough, weíd worried enough. I wanted my mom, you know? I just, I just I didnít, but I didn't want to get on the plane. But actually my friend who had just left the Twin Towers, the guy who had just made it out, and my friend who was working at the Stock Exchange just wanted to be home with their parents in San Diego. So we drove them to Buffalo and they got on the flight and just went home. They felt like they just wanted to be home and I didn't want to go on the plane. I felt fine just being in the country and being away from the city.

So um, three of us stayed behind, them two went home and we just tried to escape for a second and just appreciate that we are alive. Appreciate that you know, just think about everything that had happened and um, it was a good way to just kind of, in a way escape New York but in another way, I felt very close to New York. Like, even though Iím born and raised in San Diego, I felt like I couldn't wait also to get back to the city because I felt like as a city we were stronger because we had just gone through something. And my mom kept saying ďrent a car and drive up here and just get home.Ē But I remember feeling like I don't want to go home; I need to be here right now because they need me right now, like New York needs me right now. And I remember that there was a sort of like patriotism.

Farsan: Patriotism, I was just going to say that.

Gabriela: Yeah, just, not just U.S.A. but likeÖ

Farsan: New York?

Gabriela: New York City.  For the next I think six months or who knows how long, once everything started running again, people on the subway talked to each other, people on the street like helped each other. It was like everyone came together and just felt this like pride and this like, we just felt like we had come together had felt something so traumatic together. We were just unified after what had happened. Really weird but I just really felt like the whole I love New York campaign was right on when it came out right after 9/11 because I just felt like really proud of being a part of New York City and just appreciated everything a little more.

Farsan: Yeah, I mean but you know it's sad that, I mean you know, itís sad that it takes so much, it costs such a big price to you know make us all realize things that we don't realize every day.

Gabriela: Yeah, itís true.

Farsan:  And that's the thing, so how do you feel about 9/11 after, the 9/11 aftermath now after like five to six years, five years?

Gabriela: Well, I still feel immense sadness for what happened. Um, like I said I still don't like going down there and being around that area. Um, it just brings back a lot of bad memories, just it was, just a big horrible day um. So I still feel a little sensitive being in the area but um, I just feel like itís something that I obviously will remember for the rest of my life. Um, and I think itís something that we should never forget because all those stories that were told after 9/11, I mean everyone has a story. Everyone lost someone, everyone felt the loss of something. It just felt like, itís like a cigarette stain you know in the past and itís always going to be there. So it's still something that I feel sad about um, but just like anything else it's something that you keep in your memory but you get up and you just move on.

Farsan: Yeah, yep I think that's what life is, you can't stop. You can't stop celebrating, or I mean not celebrating, for but you know everyday life goes on you know, it's not that life stops, it has to go on. I think that's how the mechanism of our society or more like the globe is designed so you know that'sÖ

Gabriela: Yeah and I had a um, I work you know with friends on Wall Street and there is a lot of executives who make a lot of money and the last thing they have to worry about is you know, making ends meet. And we did start to see a lot of um, high profile people after 9/11 you know, retire, move away um, basically realize that thereís more to life than getting up and working hard and making money because at a certain point you have to stop and smell the roses and say I wanna, I wanna be at my kid's soft ball game instead, or I want to take my wife to Hawaii or so Iím not going to make five million this year. Iím just going to live off the interest and Iím gonna live in the mountains and ski every day. So I think like you said, unfortunately it takes something this big but a lot of people started to realize what life was all about after going through something so traumatic.

Farsan: Yeah, definitely. I mean, so does it, did it like, did you get emotionally disturbed by it?

Gabriela: Um, well, I wouldn't say that it was anything like clinically diagnosed or anything where I was depressed or um, I didn't lose sleep over it. I just remember feeling emotionally drained, like exhausted, um.

Farsan: It's too much to take.

Gabriela: I felt sad for everyone else that, like families who lost their husbands or their children or um, you know, just people who lost their family members. I just I felt sad for everyone. I felt sad for the world, felt sad that something like this had to happen especially for the reason that it happened for. It's just like a very selfish, evil reason.

Farsan: Yeah, I mean I, this class I was watching this uh, our teacher was showing us this movie and uh, you know it shows this guy whoís standing on the 100th floor, heís proud of his office. Heís standing in you know, behind him is the view by his office. I don't know what firm he worked for and heís proud of it. It was so sad and you know, his parents and his family made a website where theyíd leave messages for him and you know, we still remember you and what we did yesterday, actually like making everyone else look like heís still alive. It was so sad. I mean and when you see that, along with that, when youíre coming across the L.I.E, you must have been on Long Island?

Gabriela: Yes.

Farsan: So when youíre coming off the L.I.E. you see like New York City skyline like grows on you all of a sudden when youíre driving.

Gabriela: Yeah!

Farsan: So you know what we were used to seeing was two towers in , looked beautiful. New York City skyline looks so incomplete and you know, whenever Iím coming back from Long Island, because I have family living there so I visit them pretty often, so whenever I am coming down back from Long Island my cousin comes to drop me or something it feels so weird, it feels like something is so missing.

Gabriela: Yeah, actually when we drove back from Rochester. Itís so funny that you mentioned that because thatís the first, we couldn't wait to get over that bridge where you can actually see the skyline of Manhattan and all we saw was smoke still smoldering coming from  but to not see the Twin Towers. Itís exactly like you said. The skyline was totally thrown off, it looked someone was missing their two front teeth, it just looked like a big hole, something was missing and it looked really awkward. And it's true.

Farsan: But you know now what I feel is it takes a great city, it takes a great city to like carry on after such a big disaster. Because thereís like hundreds and hundreds of countries all around the world that would literally stop if they had such a big disaster.

Gabriela: Well, that's what they were hoping would happen, butÖ

Farsan: But fortunately, I mean that's what it is. So how do you, do you think foreign policy, American foreign policy has something to do with the attacks that took place?

Gabriela: Well um, you know, I could understand, I can't believe Iím saying this but, I could understand if something like this were to happen now after everything that we've done you know, with the Iraq and you know, the way things are going right now. But, not that I was not so involved with politics before 9/11 but just as a regular abiding citizen of you know, New York City, I don't feel like there was anything that bad that we were doing at the moment for someone to do something of this magnitude to, towards us. So yeah, American public policy you know, a lot of people don't see us, don't think of us like very great people because we like to enforce or you know encourage  democracy in other countries but thereís just, thereís no reason for something like this to happen.

Farsan: I understand.

Gabriela: Thereís just, their reasoning for doing this is to instill fear in us and to make us abide to them and their views. But that's not the way you do this, it's not the way you get someone to listen to you. Sure weíre going to listen to you but we're going to hate you and weíre going to not listen to what you have to say. Weíre not gonna follow what you have to say because this is not the way you work, itís only going to make us angry and like now what is happening. So, I don't think it has anything to do with American public policy. I think it has to do with radicals, who um, are basically they have different ideas, they have different agendas and they want other people to follow along with them.

Farsan: Yeah, it's probably that but you know I donít think having different ideas like you just said. I don't think having different ideas and having a different school of thought justifies such an act you know.

Gabriela: No absolutely not.

Farsan: It does not, I mean killing 4 to 5,000 innocent people who have nothing to do with this. You know someoneís dad, someone's brother, sister, mother, uncle, fiancť, aunt, what not, I mean itís, itís totally not justified. So do you think this couldíve been stopped if any of our governmental agencies worked on it more like they laid more emphasis on this whole thing? Because I don't know if you have seen Fahrenheit 9/11?

Gabriela: No.

Farsan: So in that movie you know, thereís a photograph of President Bush and two FBI agents or Secret Service agents who you know, the author of the movie Michael Moore, I think thatís his name, so you know heís narrating it and he was like uh, you know these are two Secret Service agents and he and theyíre telling Mr. Bush that you know the Taliban or Al-Qaeda is planning an attack on the U.S. and you know whatever happened after that. So, do you think the government could have caught them before they did this?

Gabriela: Well, I am not so familiar with how our security system works. But I would like to know as like just a citizen of the United States that we can prevent any kind of attack because I hear that we have all these satellites and you know, people listening in and protecting our, our country sitting on U.S soil most of all you know. But um, Iím not sure just how sophisticated our security system is. I mean I would like to believe that these guys you know, could have never been trained by us and lived here and done this on our own planes but to be honest with you, like I guess anything can happen. I mean anyone can be building a bomb right now in their apartment and, and getting on the subway. I mean you can't stop everything from happening. So I don't know, I think as the President of United States and anyone who works in government they probably get billions or you know, thousands of threats a day of this might happen or that might happen. So you just have to learn to filter them out and try to decipher for which ones are real and which ones are not. But I do think if they, if they knew that something like this was going to happen, they would definitely investigate it. I just think that it slipped through the cracks and no one ever knew this could happen.

Farsan: Yeah, but you know we all have this thing, I donít know if you feel the same way, but we all have this thing, most of the people think you know, FBI, if youíre doing something the FBI knows about it. We have a feeling that you know weíre being watched.

Gabriela: Right.

Farsan: Especially after 9/11. So you know anyone as an American citizen would expect that you know, they have the information about it. Just that we canít see them and they can see us, they have the information about it. So that makes most of the people or some of the people think that they could have been able to detect this much earlier than they, than this happened. How would you agree with that?

Gabriela: Well, itís hard because everyone, these guys were taking classes in pilot school in the U.S. They were taking a U.S. airline, you know, flight. They were, totally like, it could have been you, or it could have been, could have been you know, someone else who you know, is of a different nationality, is going to school here and is just basically getting on a flight. If theyíre sending e-mails, technologyís very advanced now. That's why theyíre so hard to pin down because they work in cells. They don't have a building that they all meet at every day. They don't have like a telephone line that theyíre all speaking on. I mean technology allows it so that they can have virtual cyber rooms or send e-mails from locations that nobody knows of. Um, it's difficult, it's not like as easy as it used to be where you know, they have a satellite and they are pinning someone down and theyíre all going to do a raid in the room. Itís, technologyís a great thing because it allows us to forward, but it's also dangerous because we are not allowed to track so many people down.

Farsan: Yeah, now I've heard e-mails are starting to be filtered. Like I was born in New York, raised here a bit and then went back to Pakistan. So I was like, I was not, I wouldn't say I was interrogated, but like asked you know, simple questions. Where are you from? Where did you go? Because I go back, my family is back there so I go back after every semester. So I went back and you know when I was coming this time and the time before this, I have uh, these two officers in this room, I don't know if youíve taken an international flight you know, when you land at JFK in Terminal Four, they take you to this room.

Gabriela: Yeah.

Farsan: It's um, like a two-minute walk from the immigration counter. So you know like "sir youíve just been chosen for a random spot check" and youíre like ďokayĒ just normal routine. So I just go into the room and everything and I just like, I was the only person chosen from the aircraft to ask those questions. I mean not that, I mean I would say, I would  say  if you really wanna you know, really do some good search and investigation it would be good to choose people like from age sixteen to like fifty-five or sixty so that  you encompass all people.

Gabriela: Right.

Farsan: And you know, I expect our agencies or, you know, all the agencies involved in this be it FBI or whatever to be you know knowledgeable enough to see what I am doing. You know, because like, I will, its like I remember I had an appointment at Pace, it was my last semester, I was getting late and I told the officer Iím like "sir, I have an appointment if I don't make it Iíll have to go to Indiana where I did not want to go because I was living in New York for the past, before that.Ē I transferred to Indiana for a semester and I hated it so I just wanted to come back and if I missed this appointment I would have to go back to Indiana for a year. So I tried to explain and heís like "listen everyone has plans just go and sit down" and I felt so bad. Like, I don't know for what reason but youíre supposed to pick up like most of the people from this age to this age, or some sort of thing that categorizes people. You know there should be a dichotomy. But you know and I expect these simple questions for you people to know already. What is social security for? What is my passport number for? It tells you everything what Iíve done, social security tells you everything, right?

Gabriela: Well yeah, but not everything. He doesnít know where you were having dinner last night. He doesnít know what you just told your friends, you know, sitting next to you on the plane.

Farsan: Now we never know, now at this time Iíll tell you why. What youíre saying if you said that before 9/11 I would say yeah, youíre right but after 9/11 I think they could like keep an eye on anyone.

Gabriela: Okay, but do you really think that's what they do, or do you think that's what they make you believe that theyíre doing?

Farsan: I don't know, that's, thatís a really good question, but that's the thing now you know?

Gabriela: Because I know what you mean, I feel the same way, I feel like they can track anything, anything now. But do you really think they could or do you think they make us believe that so that you know...

Farsan: Okay, do you think, like I really don't know but this is like a self-created assumption but I believe, I don't know if that's what they want us to believe or itís just an instinct. I believe that there are satellites up in the space which can like filter through any building or any roof and see that like this interview is taking place.

Gabriela: Well, there was movie that was like this, I forgot what it's called.

Farsan: I haven't seen that movie.

Gabriela: But they follow this one guy and it's just like that, they track him through satellites and they follow him.

Farsan: Oh yeah that um, Enemy of State

Gabriela: Yes!

Farsan: Um, Will Smith. So you knowÖ

Gabriela: So I would like to believe that's how it is because if that's how it is then sure I feel totally safe and secure and yes that shouldn't have happened on 9/11. But is that really what itís like? Or is that the movie?

Farsan: That's the question, I really don't know. I mean you know that's a question we would all as American citizens want to know, but that's that.

Gabriela: Yeah, if that's the case and I know that this was brought up recently when they like leaked it out that they do tap into certain suspects uh, telephones and you know communications. I don't care if they do that.

Farsan: I don't care, no one cares thatís, that.

Gabriela: You know as long as they don't give the information out to anyone. Like George, you know, Mr. Bush can listen to all my conversations and read all my emails and he can watch me sleep at night. I don't care because if he can find that there is somebody thatís doing something bad you know, along the way then go ahead. Some people are very offended by that but after what happened, do whatever you have to take, have to do to prevent anything like that happening again.

Farsan: Yeah, I would agree with that. So what do you, do you still feel affected? I donít know if Iím being repetitive about this, but do you still feel affected by this, by the 9/11 catastrophe?

Gabriela: Um, actually I do feel affected because whenever I go to San Diego, I go anywhere other than New York, um, whenever people talk or joke around about it, I feel offended. Like if people say like, there was this time when I was in San Diego and someone is like "oh Bin Laden oh. Like don't talk about 9/11 because itís like so blah, blah, blah.Ē Like, they were just totally being stupid and people there were laughing thinking it was a joke. But like I said before, if you weren't here, you didn't see it, or you weren't directly affected by it, that by someone you know, people just don't understand just how bad it was. On TV, it looks like two buildings caught on fire and planes crashed into it and people died and it sucked but it was so much more than that.

So I still feel like, like when I go to San Diego this last, for Easter, I went to visit for Easter. I have this really annoying uncle that I try not to like spend too much time talking to because heís like an uncle whoís married to like a married aunt or whatever blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it's not like he's my blood so Iím not being so mean but every time we start talking about stuff, he always has to bring up 9/11. And it's like, I donít understand why he wants to talk about it. It's not even like, thereís just no reason to talk about it. Itís not even like he is having a constructive conversation about it like oh, howís the rebuilding going? Have they decided which architect to go with? And what's the plan going to look like? Nothing like that. Itís like ďhey Gabby, getting on a plane tonight huh? Remember last time you got on a plane?Ē And Iím thinking, yeah I went on spring break a few months ago, I went on a plane then. ďRemember 9/11?Ē And I just like telling him, would you just shut up already. Like, he, he thinks itís something that, it's a little bit of an honor for him to know someone who was like there. So he thinks its okay to like talk about it and I can picture him talking to his friends; "yeah, my niece, she used to live across, used to work across the street, they had to relocate". Like he thinks it's something to be proud of you know, but it's not anything that, I guess to me itís something very sacred and it's like talking about one of your relatives that passed away or something. I don't walk up to you and say "hey, when was the last time you when you went to a funeral huh? Remember that dayĒ? You know it's just, I don't know. It still does offend me I guess, it still, it still affects me.

Farsan: Yeah, I mean definitely that's, thatís what it is. So do you think like, we talked about uh, agencies before, do you think we as a community can make a difference? Like, we as a community can make things work out differently for us and you know, so that it doesn't take such a big cost for us to realize what weíre supposed to realize every day.

Gabriela: Um.

Farsan: What do you think we can do as a community to make a difference?

Gabriela: To make a difference like, like to come together or to prevent like 9/11 from happening?

Farsan: Prevent 9/11, come together, all categories combined.

Gabriela: Um, well I think that if we just like I said just remember. Like remember what lifeís about. Remember that uh, it was a big loss to the city, to life, to the world and just think twice about. Well, thereís two things that happened after 9/11: people learned to appreciate life and people became semi-prejudiced towards the Middle East, right? I had a friend whoís Indian and he couldn't step foot out of his apartment for like a week because he was getting racial slurs, people were yelling at him, and people were telling him that him and his family were murderers. And heís dark skinned, he looks Middle Eastern but heís Indian and people shouldn't stereotype after what happened. This is like I said, it's a group of radicals that are doing this. So I think we also have to learn, while weíre being you know patriotic and loving our community and coming together, we also have to learn and remember that weíre America. Weíre based on having different cultures living together,

Farsan: Diversity

Gabriela: Yeah, that's what this nation is built on. It's built on having people from all over the world come and form a nation together. So we have to remember that a community in the United States means people who are Middle Eastern, people who are followers of Islam, people who are Catholics, Christians, Buddhist. Um, and I think that together all those people need to love America together, whether theyíre here from England, whether theyíre here from Pakistan. So itís, I think we all have to learn acculturation. Which is, you know, Iím Mexican because my family is from Mexico, but Iím American because I was born in the United States. America has given me this infrastructure to grow in. I go to school here, I work here. I pay taxes and I have great benefits and I live in this great, safe country. So, I think people have to learn to remember that theyíre Americans.

Farsan: Yeah, I mean that's totally, thatís totally the right way to think. I mean this countryís given like me, I would say itís given me like everything. My dad came here like a long time back in the seventies. He studied here, did his masters, everything and you know. Since then I've been, I was born here and then we went back in like ninety and we used to come here every year. My uncle used to live down on Long Island and I mean you know, from my childhood I remember living here. You know, I feel this connection with America, New York and you know, if the American national anthem is being, you know if someoneís singing it--I gave my oath while getting my passport, like when I got my passport renewed--and I would stand up for the American national anthem just like I would stand up for the Pakistani national anthem. And that's, thatís I think that's how everyone should feel. We should feel more like Americans in order to act like a community and make systems stronger so we can fight attacks or terrorists or any such radicals that have any future plans of disturbing our system. And I think that's the only way, we have to stand together as a community, acculturation.

Gabriela: Yeah, well weíll all move forward with this community.

Farsan: Yeah, exactly and the thing is you have to, you have to rub out, you have to rub out the subcultures. I mean of course that's in you as well but you don't, you donít patronize based on your, your country, the culture of your parentís country or something like that, because this place has their own culture, and you have to live according to that. You can't put your own culture or your parentís home's culture here.

Gabriela: No, you can, you can embrace it and love it and remember itÖ

Farsan: Love it. Remember it.

Gabriela: and practice it because that's where you're from but you owe it to this country to be a member of the community because youíre born and raised here, this is your new citizenship. So that doesn't mean that Iím gonna eat hot dogs and burgers and Iím gonna love baseball. Iím still going to eat tacos and Iím gonna make enchiladas this weekend. Iím gonna like, you know, speak Spanish but Iím gonna love my neighbor whoís Jewish and Iím gonna try to love you know, anyone who is living in my you know, community because altogether we are all Americans.

Farsan: Yeah!

Gabriela: So when someone else comes knocking on the door and wants to like murder someone, we all have to like stick together because at the end of the day, we are protecting our country.

Farsan: Yeah, I mean, I think that's, thatís the only way we can move forward because, I mean you canít leave, you got to watch each otherís back you know, and thatís, thatís the only way. And why actually my previous person, the previous lady I interviewed, I asked her like, what do you think education can play a critical role in like stop, because what happens is people like Al Qaeda come from places where there is like no education.

Gabriela: Yeah!

Farsan: And the only option for them is to join is a group of radicals which can you know, give their lives in the name of Allah. And like you know, and they say like the life hereafter is much better so youíre not doing anything now. So they would recruit young people, children as young as nine years old and when they would have no options. I mean it's, itís, itís a very big thing, itís you know, itís not that simple, education, corruption. I think if there were more schools in Middle Eastern countries or say my country, Pakistan, or India for that matter, if there were more schools there wouldn't be that much corruption because there would be education. When you get educated, you become more literal, you become more, you become more, you become more classy. I think education brings class.

Gabriela: Yeah definitely, otherwise you're ignorant.

Farsan: Yeah and that's what, thatís what I think ignorance is what makes people get wrong ideas. Be an American thinking that, be it anyone else, be it any Jewish or a Christian thinking oh Islam is bad, all Muslims are bad, I think that is ignorance. Be it, be it Al Qaeda thinking that oh my God America is bad, capitalism is bad. Both the things, whether it be them, whether it be people here, its ignorance and I think better education is the key to solving all such problems.

Gabriela: Yeah, youíre right because the reason they hate us because they don't know us.

Farsan: Yeah.

Gabriela: I know that thereís a lot of stereotypical stereotypes where you know, maybe one religion doesn't like another religion or one race doesn't like another race, And if itís not because of something that happened a long time ago, itís because they just don't know it, they are not familiar with it. So they choose to not like it but like you said, people who are educated and who are more familiar with it, then it's not foreign to them so they can live with it.

Farsan: Yeah that's right, see thatís why people here. Like okay, Pakistan and India have been like in war for the past sixty years. So like people living back there are like oh Indians this, oh Indians that, and people living in India are like Pakistani this, Pakistani that and blah, blah, blah and you know what not. But when you come here, it's so different. They hang out the same way and you know, when we come in, I have a lot of Indian friends, so like you know when we meet each other we see that you know, we feel that we basically come from the same cultural background. The only difference is the difference of religion which you know, today I wouldn't say Iím very religious. I wouldnít say Iím religious at all in fact. So I mean I think, I feel as Pakistanis we are like the same. So then whatís you hating yourself just on the basis of something that youíre not so strong on, religion?

Gabriela: Right.

Farsan: I mean right orÖ

Gabriela: or something that happened back inÖ       

Farsan: Back in like sixty years.

Gabriela: Gandhi yeah.

Farsan: Exactly, so those are the little things we have to and I think exposure is really important. Like when you come here, you realize you are the same.

Gabriela: New York City!

Farsan: New York City.

Gabriela: And don't you feel like the way you are here with your Indian friends and right now you know, Iím Mexican, youíre Pakistan and weíre like, weíre chilling and weíre totally fine. But if you were to go home and tell your old grandpa or grandma or old uncle or aunt, they just wouldn't understand.

Farsan: Actually, you might find it weird but like my father, my mother, theyíre like, theyíre like very like you know. What people over here think is that you know, in Islam if a girl goes to a guyís house just as a friend, itís like oh my God. Iím sure you must've thought this before today because my parents or most of like my family, it's not like that.

Gabriela: Their open-minded.

Farsan: My female friends or my girlfriends come to my place, just chill out you know, sit with me, meet my parents, sit down, have tea you know, have a good time and just go you know.

Gabriela: But I mean the fact that you are such good friends with so many Indians?

Farsan: No, never!

Gabriela: If you were to go home and like your uncles and aunts and parents could see that, wouldn't they be like what hell you are doing?

Farsan: Never! You know that's the thing because my parents lived in New York for about twenty-three years.

Gabriella: Okay.

Farsan: And also like you know, also that my parents had Indian friends here, they had Spanish friends, they had Mexican friends, I remember.

Gabriela: Good.

Farsan: In my own lifetime.

Gabriela: But thereís people who come here and find themselves like all their lives hearing racial slurs and remarks from their families towards a certain race. But then they come to New York and they see like you said, we both like the same music, we both like the same restaurants, we both dress kind of the same, we both have the same things in common, this person is actually cool. Theyíre a person, theyíre not an Indian or they are not like you know, black or whatever it is that you've heard these stereotypes about. But then when you go home like for example, my sister doesn't have any gay friends, right. Like she doesn't have any gay guy friends and I was a flight attendant for a couple of years so I have a ton of gay guy friends, I've been around gay guys like all my life and they are like super good friends, one of my best friends is gay. But whenever I tell my sister stories about like my friend and I, sheís like it's kind of weird huh. But I forget that in New York City youíre exposed to everything. You're in a melting pot.

Farsan: Everything, everyone.

Gabriela: Yeah everyone, everything, anything goes, youíre just people. But when you go like back to your hometown, you realize that not so many people have the knowledge, education or just the experience of being around so many other cultures. So theyĎre not comfortable.

Farsan: Yeah for that matter like Iíve had Indian friends come down to Pakistan. Some of my like, all these, all these people you know, come to see me and my parents would all be fine with it. And uhÖ

Gabriela: That's good.

Farsan: Like you know itís, I think it's more the exposure or it's more like the way you think about things. Theyíre religious, theyíre really religious but it doesn't mean that you know, this is a part of the world, that is a part of religion. Religion goes you know when you gotta go to mosque, when you gotta go to church, you go to church. That's what you do. But when youíre at work you work, when youíre like having a good time, you have a good time. Everything has a time and you know itís just about like my family or my uncles or people in my family would just say prioritize, do the right thing at the right time and that's it. You know, I think that's what life all, life, education, issues like this are all about. You agree?

Gabriela: Yeah, I agree.

Farsan: So I think that's it and I really appreciate you giving me your precious time Gabby.

Gabriela: No problem, any time itís nice talking about it all over again, I haven't done it in a while.

Farsan: No, I mean all these talks might have brought some painful memories so you know, I would apologize for that but I really appreciate your time and everything, thanks a lot.

Gabriela: No problem.

Pace 9-11 Oral History Project


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