We went to the only place you can cross the India/Pakistan border today. It is about 30 km from Amritsar. Every day they have a border ceremony there. That’s what they officially call it. I call it a big pep rally, dance party and photo-fest.
Both countries have erected large bleachers right at the border. They let people in around 5pm and then the official festivities start at 6pm. Some guy with no uniform on, who I can only describe as the MC, comes out with giant India flags and waves them. Everyone claps. Then he pulls a couple of kids out of the stands to carry the flags and everyone takes pictures. Then there is a lot of chanting and techno dance music. Everyone is clapping and waving their arms. Some of the girls dance in the street (they are in the women’s section) and some men dance in the street further back (they are in the men’s section).
We sat in the VIP section, or more appropriately, “the white people section with a smattering of Indians who must be important”. Even though it’s not our country, we were actually closer to the border than the Indians. Shawnee got a great picture of our empty section with a few white people in it and then this section next to us packed with Indian women. Although our section was 2/3 full by the end, it was pretty funny.
The color guard comes out and does some very awkward-looking high kicks, goes to the border where they have a staredown with the Pakistani troops (who look a lot tougher than the Indian troops). After a competition to see which troops can yell the longest into a microphone, they lower the flags at exactly the same time and that’s it.
Pakistan only had about 100 people in their bleachers, and India had more than 3,000. Could be because of the recent change in leadership there, but nobody told us why.
After the ceremony, there was a stampede from the people to get close to the gate and take their pictures with the color guard. More than 500 people rushed up there and were just a few feet away from one of the most disputed and controversial borders in the world. All so they could get a photo.
And all this happens every single day.