Travel to the Wagah Border, Amritsar at Beautiful Way
It was a hot sunny afternoon in Amritsar But that was not terrifying for the hundreds of people who were aiming at the Wagah Border to lower the flagship ceremony. And I was one of them. The ceremony is a daily military exercise, followed by the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers, since 1959.
The rush was wicked, to say the least. It was almost as if the government decided to give away a daily visa to visit Pakistan. Two violent young ladies trying to force their way into one of the gates were removed by security personnel. They later got another lord, who was a retired army officer. “They are bloody rude!”, Muttered one of the girls. Then the lord said, almost defending the actions of the security personnel; “Do not talk like that. That’s their duty. “Fifteen minutes later, the same officer was expelled by security officials in exactly the same way, but one cannot really blame them. It’s not easy to manage crowds in such large numbers.
The crowd included elderly, foreign nationals, toddlers in tow and photography lovers, including myself who transported large cameras and did not cause them to drag them with the crowd. There was pushing, blunting the feet, pushing the gates open and what not! But in all this crazy, I did not even walk back a person or give up the hope to see the ceremony. As I walked with the crowd to the border, I wondered how so many people pulled to Wagah. Love for the country, patriotism, curiosity or sensation? I really do not know what it is or maybe it’s all these reasons. But for me the reason was fascination. Fascination to see exactly what is going on at the border, fascination to see how it is across the border, to see “those” people, to see the other side of us.
Benazir Bhutto once said, “There is a little India in every Pakistani and a little Pakistan in every Indian.” And this is exactly why I call Pakistan on the other side of us. What are India and Paksitan? One country was separated years ago on paper and by geographical boundaries, but perhaps not in the mind. And so much in common between the two sides: culture, language, food, music, cricket and the passion that they love and hate Each other it’s almost impossible to solve them. Almost like the current, unlikely possibility that the two countries reach agreement on peaceful living together.
From Bollywood songs like ‘Chak de India’ and ‘Suno gaur’s duniya walon’ play on the background of shouts of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Hindustan Zindabad’; Seeing people who are on the other side and wondering what’s going to happen in their minds and hearts, to the powerful show that is being set up by the BSF and Pakistan Rangers. The experience in Wagah is undoubtedly engaging. But for me, the cherry on the cake was the moment that the flags of both India and Pakistan were reduced to diagonal unison. It’s a beautiful face indeed, a face that generates the hope. So after our very short and conscious visit to Amritsar, it was back to Delhi on the overnight train.