We were roaming the Wall Street area of Manhattan during Thanksgiving Weekend 2008 when one of us had the wish to see the site where the WTC towers once stood. We had already been told that there was nothing much to see, but we went anyway. Only a minute's walk from the Trinity Church on Wall Street and we had reached the giant hole in the ground where two 110 storey buildings had once stood. More than 3000 Americans died that fateful morning of September 11th, followed by hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan in the ensuing wars. Hatred and intolerance dug their claws deeper into the flesh of mankind by that single incident, bleeding away the last drops of goodwill that there existed between two different ways of life, all due to the madness of the powers-that-be.
In an open square right next to the boarded and enclosed site where the WTC Memorial is coming up, stood a Peruvian man playing his flute next to his van. He was one of the many street performers that entertain the denizens of Manhattan but he had a performing venue of special importance as people came here to pause and reflect on the pain of the past, instead of just rushing on to the next subway train to Brooklyn or Queens. The sound of the flute surged through the microphone and flowed out of the speakers enveloping the area with a soothing power that only music has. The majesty of the Andes suffused the cramped lanes of Manhattan with an imposing calm totally unbecoming of a city packed with millions of people and the din caused by their daily routines only through the power of his flute.
The real irony however was that this beautiful music was from the land of the Incas, probably the most violent of all ancient civilizations. Human sacrifices, public slaughter of captive enemies and blood thirsty deities were part and parcel of their daily lives. Yet a thousand years since their glory days, the Incas lived on in a crowded square in Manhattan, their music this time a balm to these scarred souls, the latest victims in the never ending story of mindless human violence.