Walking the Pak-Indo Border
Crossing the border from Pakistan to India, one must navigate from Wagah to Altai respectively. These smaller cities serve as buffer between the pre-partition twin cities of Lahore and Amritsar.
In fact, at the border I departed an auto rickshaw, walked across the border through lax immigration, and seated myself on the Indian side to find a beer and await the nightly closing ceremony. This border has been called the “Berlin Wall of Asia” and has served as a “barometer of the India-Pakistan relations over the years” (Wikipedia).
With the terrorist attack in Mumbai only two days old, I thought it best I get across the border in case she closes up in the even of armed conflict.
Each side populates their security officers (Pakistani Rangers and India’s Border Security Force) with the tallest men with the most honorable mustaches. A lowering of the flags draws crowds of peoples with school buses arriving with to drop kids on field trip off. Pakistan has constructed a half-bowl arena seating while India has simply lied the street with bleachers. The result is more people on the Pakistan side are closer to the action, making them the louder side. More than once in Pakistan I was told, in the humble opinion of the speaker, that Pakistan possess the better side in the matter and I agree based on my one viewing. Large flags are waved on the Pakistan side to entice the crowd to a higher state of fervor.
Both sides give loud cheers. “Pakistan!! Super-Power!!” and “Hindustan!!” are issued forth as the tall guards, most well over six and a half feet, march forward with gusto and swing their long legs as high as possible. Glowering at one another through a gate, the flags are lowered at the same time.
The closing ceremony proved to be an entertaining insight on the Pak-Indo relationship and is a positive step towards mutually understanding, even if it comes off feeling like one big pissing contest between the two nuclear powers.
I’m on to Amritsar where the hits keep on coming.