Posts Tagged ‘JFK’

When JFK was shot, I was asleep

November 22, 2013

It is a day for memories.

I was 15, in Calcutta and had ongoing final school exams.

When JFK died at 1230 CST on 22nd November, it was almost midnight in India and I had just gone to bed. I was first to wake up the next morning around 5am to do my last minute review for the days exams. But I always started by going through the sports pages and the comics in the papers. The news just made the headlines in the editions of the two newspapers we got – The Statesman and the Amrita Bazar Patrika. For a 15 year-old schoolboy JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy represented all things American and all things admirable. I woke my parents after seeing the headlines in a state of disbelief, as if they could somehow make the news disappear.

I cannot remember what exam we had that day but I do remember that we talked about nothing else. Within our little group at school we were in the throes of just becoming politically aware. Within our group we had staunch capitalists and die-hard communists (of the Soviet Union persuasion since India had had a border war with China the year before) and every shade in-between. But political leanings were irrelevant that day. There was a sombre, subdued mood among the entire class and the teachers. Few had much experience of violent death. We all knew that our final exam results would be decisive in the choice of which University we would get into and that our futures depended on our results, but there was an underlying realisation that this event, far away across the world, was something probably much more important and fateful than our exam results.

Of the 10 in our group, two have died. In reality and in hindsight, for each of us, the exam results we achieved has probably had a much greater direct effect on our careers over the 50 years since then, than JFK’s asassination. But something inside each of us, I think, changed that day. Whatever JFK may have achieved as a politician is fading rapidly as time passes. But the impact his death, and the manner of his death, had on those of his time will remain till they, too, pass on.

I cannot remember much about those exams 50 years ago. But I can remember with astonishing clarity exactly how I felt when I first saw the headline that JFK had been shot dead. It is a crystal clear emotional recall which I cannot fully articulate.

First Observations

May 16, 2011

Visiting New York  after a break of 3 years.

  1. Changing planes at Munich far more effective and smooth than at Frankfurt. Huge line at JFK immigration but completed immigration and customs in less than 25 minutes. On-line ESTA registration together with machine readable passports actually works.  Entire process was quite painless.
  2. Warm but drizzling in Manhattan. Traffic was horrendous and almost gridlocked on a Sunday afternoon. Our taxi driver demonstrated the ability to accelerate to 70 mph and come to a screeching halt at the traffic lights at the end of every block. But he never managed to get more than one vehicle ahead of the sedate bus he was following for over 10 miles.
  3. All news channels are covering the arrest of the head of the IMF on rape charges. True or not, Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s aspirations in French politics would normally be ended. But one never knows. The macho image has not hurt Berlusconi! And Sarkozy clearly believes that a macho image helps him with the French voters!!
  4. Coverage of the Louisiana flooding was not as overwhelming that I expected it would be and I had to surf through many channels to find some coverage.

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