India-Pakistan border entertainment

Trip Start May 03, 2011
1
129
148
Trip End Jan 31, 2013


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Flag of India  , Punjab,
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quoted from the Lonely Planet since I cannot explain it any better myself: "Every late afternoon, just before sunset, members of the Indian and Pakistani military meet at the border to engage in a 30-minute display of pure theatre. The flag-lowering, closing-of-the-border ceremony is a fusion of orderly colonial-style pomp, comical goose-stepping and, considering the two countries' rocky relationship, stunning demonstration of harmony. So popular is this event that grandstands have been specially constructed to accommodate the patriotic throngs.

Foreigners are allowed to sit at the front stalls (behind the VIP area, which is closest to the border). Prior to the ceremony, the stony-faced soldiers mill about with the air of self-conscious debutantes and the real action is that of the spectators, some parading the Indian flag. Loud music and a compère pump up the crowd’s patriotic fervour. The Pakistanis are equally vociferous, except during Ramadan, when their stands are noticeably quieter.

Then, with a bellow from the guardroom, a squad stomps out, shoulders square, moustaches twirled and eyes bulging. The drill is to parade up and down as dramatically as possible, preceded by a kick so high the soldier looks in danger of concussing himself. The high-octane march to the border, vaguely reminiscent of Monty Python’s 'Ministry of Silly Walks’ sketch, rouses thunderous applause from the audience and repetitive chants of ‘Hindustan zindabad!’ (Long live India!). The gates are flung open and commanding officers of both countries shake hands and salute (blink and you’ll miss it). Then, the flags of both countries are simultaneously lowered and folded and the gates slammed shut."
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