When Bad Stuff Happens, Is It Better To Be At Home?

Most people can remember where they were when events of major importance happened like 9/11 or the Columbia space shuttle tragedy. When such events occur, the best place to be is usually at home surrounded by friends and family.

August 31 is the tenth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. In August 1997 I was travelling alone in Eastern Turkey and got to a cheap hotel in Erzurum after a long bus trip from the Black Sea coast.

The lobby of the Ornek Hotel was filled with locals watching TV, but the grainy images and Turkish commentary didn’t really make clear what had happened. I managed to work out from the guy at reception that “Prince Charles’ girlfriend” had died, but given Charles and Di’s marriage was already over this still didn’t tell me anything definitive.

Gradually snippets on TV, (remember this was before the days of widespread Internet), told the full story, and a few days later I was in another cheap hotel in Sanliurfa near the Syrian border watching Elton John sing his reworked “English Rose” at Diana’s funeral.

Now I’m not a big fan of Elton, and definitely not a royalist, but I was sitting in my spartan accommodation with tears streaming down my face. The combination of being away from home, and having no-one to share the event in my own language I guess.

For American readers, what was it like if you were out of the States on September 11, 2001?

Thanks to bush to push on Flickr for the pic of Erzurum.