How I learned about the Paris attacks while travelling

It was November 13. After a week-long visit to India, I was on my way back to UVic. I reached Terminal-3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, checked my luggage, collected my boarding passes, and made my way to the security check.

Indira Gandhi International Airport

Indira Gandhi International Airport

I could sense a weird energy in the airport; there was a feeling of dismay. Tension and fear were evident on people’s faces. I hadn’t realized what had happened yet.

I went through the security check and felt that people were more interested in looking at the TV screens than their own luggage. That’s when I saw the breaking news, “Terrorist Attack in Paris.”

It’s one thing to hear something like this when you are sitting on your couch, listening to the news, but completely different when you are about to fly across the world.

There was news that Paris declared a state of emergency. They weren’t sure if the terrorist attack was over or if more attacks could happen. A number of flights to Paris were delayed and cancelled. Clearing the security check, my first action was to message everyone I knew who was in Paris.

DVCoYn-qLogging into Facebook, I had never seen social media go this crazy on a global scale. People were reposting pictures of Paris with hashtags like “#prayforParis.” I ended up sharing one, too.

My parents were travelling elsewhere in India the same day, and my mother probably got a notification when I reposted the Paris pic. Since they were travelling, they didn’t hear the news until she called me and asked me what that hashtag meant.

I didn’t want to tell her because she usually gets stressed out when I am travelling and would get more worried after hearing this news. I guess all mothers are like that; they always want to look out for you.

I told her about it, skipping some details. I still had an hour left before I had to board my flight to Beijing. I was relieved by some responses from friends in Paris saying they were okay, but there were still a few more to hear from. I kept refreshing my phone looking for new messages before I had to switch it down to airplane mode.

My flight to Beijing wasn’t the best. I wanted to know what was going on, I was distracted, and couldn’t imagine why on earth  someone would want to do something like this. I wished I was flying on United Airlines and not Air China because you get Wi-Fi on the former. I just wanted to get off the plane.

AVN_T3_221686fAfter 7 hours, I was at PEK (Beijing Capital International Airport) and was utterly relieved when all my friends messaged me back. I couldn’t imagine what must be going through the minds of people who saw this firsthand, people who lost their lives, people who went out for a great Friday night with their family and friends and came back all alone. Why??

There was news that ISIS took responsibility for the attack and said that this was just the beginning. The French government retaliated by bombing in Syria and the Islamic states. My heart aches for the 4 million innocent people in these areas who have nothing to do with what happened in Paris.

I was watching a recent video of Angelina Jolie, who has made 11 visits to Syria, sharing her experience with the UN Council. She addressed the council on behalf of the Syrian refugees and questioned them by saying, “Why are we the Syrian people not worth saving?”

I cannot understand the grief of the people who have lost their loved ones and relatives, but I do know we cannot defeat violence with violence. We have witnessed from the past that fights and wars never lead to a perfect resolution. It always leaves scars not only in the minds and hearts of people but also on our planet Earth.

This world is just not ready for another war. The UN Security Council needs to come together as one to end this conflict; only then we can hope for a brighter tomorrow.

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1 Response

  1. Janni Aragon says:

    Dear Div: This was a very thoughtful post. I am sure that traveling at this time was stressful. Thanks for sharing.

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