Wagah Border – Amitava Kumar

‘In the distance, I could see Pakistani viewers sitting on a similar structure on the other side. As I watched them, an energetic man in a cream shalwar-kameez got up and began to lead the Pakistanis in shouting slogans. “Pakistan . . . ” he would say, “Zindabad!” the crowd responded.

The Indians watched this for a while, and then around me the voices rose in response. “Bharat Mata ki . . . Jai!” Then, the tone changed and both sides began to shout slogans calling for the death and destruction of the other [ . . . ] There was genuine passion present there, but it was also a show. People giggled whlie all that yelling and waving of arms went on. And then, suddenly, whistles blew and the crowd turned quiet. The ceremony had begun.

During Beating Retreat, soldiers from both India and Pakistan present arms. Then the national flags are lowered amid much blowing of bugles. Commanders from the two border patrols march up to each other and shake hands. The tourists applaud. Before the event is over, spectators on both sides are allowed to rush forward and gaze at each other from across a distance of about fifteen feet. Throughout this ceremony, the guards mirror each other perfectly: their goose-stepping, their aggressive gestures, their shouted commands, all in sync. But the two enemies make sure not to cross the line that holds them apart. So how do they learn to perform this intimate dance? How well do we know each other? How hard do we work to remain enemies?’

– Husband of a Fanatic by Amitava Kumar (my cousin’s husband)

 

 Peace reigns

No guard less than 6″4′

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