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Published: February 24th 2019
In Amritsar there are two main tourist attractions. Yesterday’s Golden Temple and the India Pakistan border ceremony at Wageh. We had arranged the latter for the afternoon so as we had the morning free we set out for another walk through the old town.
Camera ever to hand and lots of things to click at. This place is fascinating. Nothing ever seems to get finished. Buildings are started but the windows don’t go in. Things break and are never mended or replaced. Some of the buildings along the main street the hotel stands on are, or rather were, quite ornate but not any longer. An astonishing mess if you stand back and look at it all. There are no parking places so there are scooters lined up everywhere and you have to weave your way between them to get along the pavements. The pavements are generally impossibly high, I presume to allow for monsoon rain but quite possibly because nobody considered that getting up and down foot high curbs can be a bit tricky.
We had a good wander along the road through the old town until we came to the archway which marks the entrance and then
went along the more main road outside. There were no other strolling tourists just us. We avoided the tuktuks and bicycle rickshaws which kept offering us rides, failed to get run over by a scooter though several tried and often just stood and watched in amazement at the traffic chaos which ensues when nobody pays any attention to any rule of the road.
There were several horse carts travelling at speed down the busy road, often with the driver standing aloft on the back of the flat bed cart. Everything was weaving in and out and honking their horns and then a few moments of traffic jam when someone stopped suddenly, wherever they were on the road, to buy some fruit from the mobile fruit stalls along the way.
We attacked another stretch of the road, stopping first to admire a litter of puppies which had obviously been put out of the way off the actual road. They like dogs here and care for them, as best they can given how many strays there are. More importantly, contrary to what seems to be a quite common belief, they do not eat them. In the first instance dog is meat
and the Indians are, in the main, Vegetarian.
I found some more fruit and veggie stalls a bit further along and with a few well placed smiles secured myself some more rather nice pictures. I love it when they see me coming along with the camera and get themselves all ready in a pose. Such lovely friendly people.
Back at the hotel time for a sit in the sun on the hotel roof where there is a pool. I considered a swim as I’ve still not tried since I’ve had my new knee but the pool was being cleaned, needed after all the rain they’ve just had and I suspect it hasn’t been warm enough yet this year for anyone to use it.
Then to the border with Pakistan at Wageh in our pre-arranged taxi.
Left at 2.30pm sharp and arrived at 3.15. A helpful guard said we couldn’t go in to the grandstand until 3.30 and took us to the restaurant. Quickly wise to that tactic (which will involve commission for any customers brought in) we retreated and went through the foreigners entrance and security which ‘surprisingly’ Was open. I had
been very careful what we took with us as knew that bags had to be deposited so apart from my camera which was allowed everything else went in Bob’s pocket. Just wallet and phone really.
The ceremony takes place on the border line between India and Pakistan. Two big gates separate the two countries and there is a big grandstand on either side.
At sunset every day the flags of the two countries are taken down and the gates and border closed for the night. The border ceremony starts promptly at 5pm and finishes at 5.30pm. For at least an hour before that the ‘Sergeant Major’ who directs the ceremony does his level best to bring the audience to a fever pitch with much loud music and chanting and shouting and bellowing. The chants are against Pakistan and for India and we could hear the same going on on the other side of the gate but of course for Pakistan and against India.
The ceremony itself involves much posturing and strutting of a group of soldiers on both sides of the border who confront each other and the main aim as far as I could tell was
to see who could kick their leg the highest. It was hugely entertaining.
It ended with the flags being taken down again with much purposeful confrontation and then suddenly the gate and therefore the border was closed and everyone set off back to the waiting taxis and minibuses.
Our taxi had broken down with an electrical fault but the hotel had sent another so we went back in that nicely in time for an early dinner and an early night. Cases repacked and alarm set for 3.15 as have to catch a flight at 6am.
PS: apologies for the haze on the border ceremony photos but I was shooting directly into the sun just as the sun dropped at sunset. Not my favourite photography situation.
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