Military border ceremony
One of the borders between India and Pakistan, the Wagah border, is well known for its impressive military ceremony. The closer I got to the border, the more people recommended it to me. The impressive parade had been added to my list for a while and I was excited as I made my way to Pakistan.
When I actually made it to the border, the Indian soldiers told me I could only watch it in India and not from the Pakistani side. This would prevent me from getting to Pakistan before the border closed. I wanted to make sure I entered and took the risk and started the crossing. As soon as I got into the country I was reassured I could watch the ceremony without a problem. After the paper work, I was officially in Pakistan!
I went almost straight to the gate to reserve my seat. As the crowd gathered, I noticed a lot of pride and patriotism on both sides. I observed it as something beautiful and was amazed by the eagerness of both crowds. Even though I enjoyed the overall enthusiasm, there was still a voice in my head who reminded me of the dangers of nationalism. I pushed the voice away and settled in for the spectacle. The performances of soldiers on both sides were astonishing. Several times they flung their legs in the air. Their feet reached the height of their head several times. I could feel a sense of fierce competition. It was like a game where soldiers compared who had the biggest gun, the loudest cry and the best performance. It was fascinating to perceive. Almost every five minutes, the paki crowd shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as the Indians replied with 'Hindustan, Hindustan'. The tension was increasingly more palpable. I did not know what to feel or think about it all. The happening seemed less friendly than I had imagined. At one specific moment, a soldier from each side strode towards the gate, as determined as ever. They seemed to provoke each other with a hard stare and the most intense swing of the leg. The intense stare was sealed with a firm handshake, a confirmation of peace between the two nations. I could not help but grin. Despite the Kashmir conflict, the bloody history and plenty religious clashes, they seemed to respect each other. This realization helped me to relax and enjoy the performances. My eyes peered through the crowd and rested upon the military host. He looked as a big chunk of profound masculinity and stern leadership. He had the most determined look on his face. After a while I caught myself wondering what he had been through, serving in the Pakistani army. As I followed my train of thoughts, the show came to an end. The audience left the border, going back to their own countries.
As I walked out, I joined the enthusiastic crowd and got a lot of attention. They shared how they felt about the ceremony and about India and it was not as pretty as I had imagined. Their was a lot of hate towards their neighboring country and I did not get a chance to disagree. They wanted to hear me say that Indians were Gandhus, assholes. I did not feel like saying such a thing, I had just spent an amazing three weeks in India! Neither did I want to offend the citizens of the country I had just arrived. Conflicted by several emotions, I told them I wanted to stay neutral. Besides this rather awkward moment, most people that I met were friendly, more friendly than I had often experienced. I felt welcome in Pakistan, eager for another adventure!