Friday, February 25, 2011

India part 18b: Wagah

Arriving at Wagah, where India borders Pakistan, you feel like you're part of a line of refugees, with the presence of stern police on horseback ensuring it's the only queue in the whole of India that's actually single file. The Rough Guide to India got there first in describing Wagah's daily face-off "Pythonesque", but there isn't another word for it as far as I can tell: Indian border guards with massive handlebar moustaches and gaudy uniforms high-kick marching like their lives depended on it, the crowd cheering like crazy, and their Pakastani counterparts across the border apparently doing the same. It's two nuclear powers facing off in the silliest way possible every day - I'm not sure whether it's comforting or terrifying.

Wagah border ceremony guard

Wagah border ceremony guards

I found out afterwards that we would have got a better view if we'd flashed our passports, which gets you admitted to the VIP stand. A shame, but then again, the Indian men-only stand was were the atmosphere was at and where all the chants were coming from ("Bharat Mataji!"). As long as you don't mind some dude with a distinctly un-Western concept of personal space using your shoulder to rest his arm on, what's not to love?

Wagah border ceremony crowds go nuts

I first heard about this place on John Sergeant's BBC documentary about the Indian railways, but it seems this is a bit of a rite of passage for Beeb correspondents making programmes about the subcontinent...

1 comment:

Chris said...

The Indian side is now segregated by sex? I thought that was only on the Pakistani side. Having my wallet nicked on the Pakistani side did take some of the fun out of it, but they do have something India doesn't - this dude: