September 6, 2011
Last night I went to see the famous ceremony at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan. Amritsar is only about a 20-minute drive to the border. I shared a van with some travelers from Australia, Spain, and England and we had a great time comparing travel stories. We laughed when two explained how upon arrival they would carry their bags of trash for miles because it was too hard to throw it in the street like everybody else.
We arrived and stood in a packed line. The ceremony happens every day at 6 pm. Tourists from both countries pack each side of the border gates and watch the spectacle of the border guards stomping, saluting, and retiring the colors. Men women, and gringos sit separately. The crowds go wild, cheering Indian anthems and dancing in the street. Women took turns running the Indian flag up and down the street. Then the goose-stepping and whistle blowing started, to more cheers. It is a strangely paradoxical ceremony, both confrontational and cooperative.