Sharing little chunks of my experience as I head out to Ludhiana with the IBM Corporate Service Corps

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sunny Sunday (part 2) or Bollywood at the Border

The road to the border cuts straight across green and yellow (mustard) fields, the land around is extremely flat and as we get closer we notice various military installations. Then comes the numerous trucks waiting for their authorization to cross into Pakistan. We notice many drivers camping along the road, so the wait must be quite long. We leave the bus behind and walk the last kilometer amid many little stands selling food, toys and all sorts of goodies with the Indian flag on them.

The Wagah border closing ceremony seems to have become quite an attraction in the past years, I had even seen a documentary on it back in France before coming here. Apparently there is always an important crowd here every evening, even on week days.

The road to Pakistan
We are told that this is one of the most sensitive borders, and we certainly notice all the security measures. Apparently they also jam mobile phones for the duration of the ceremony, maybe to avoid remote control explosive devices ?

As foreigners, we are invited to the VIP bleachers which are closer to the border, the real VIPs are actually sitting in chairs along the road.

View of Pakistan - the official ceremony is still not started
Both sides play music extremely loud to cover the other side's music. On our side the music sounds more traditional while from Pakistan we hear pop rock music. While we wait for the official ceremony to start, kids and women gather along the road and run back and forth with big India flags while everyone is cheering. Then comes the Bollywood style music and many young ladies dance on the road, everyone is cheering even louder.

Getting ready !
The patriotic chants mark the beginning of the soldiers' act, with that very distinctive walk which made me think of Monty Python's ministry of silly walks ! There is also a sort of competition between the guards from both side to find out who can scream really loud (into a mic) the longest.

But I have to admit it's really impressive, the crowd is wild and the you end up screaming "Hindustan Zindabad" with everyone else.

View of the crowd in Pakistan
Entry into India

We left with the setting sun in our back, had some sleep in the bus before stopping for dinner at Haveli Heritage, a  traditional themed Punjabi restaurant. Unfortunately there wasn't any room inside, so we had a quick snack outside by the brazier with hot chai to keep us warm.

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