Border Ceremony

Trip Start Feb 16, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Pakistan  ,
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lahore is on the east side of Pakistan, the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and is the second largest city in Pakistan after Karachi. I instantly liked the city and it had a nice vibe about it. I visited Lahore Fort which was built, damaged, demolished and rebuilt several times before being given its current form by Emperor Akbar in 1556, when he made Lahore his capital. The fort had an appealing empty kind of feel as I walked around it and some nice gardens which I chilled out in and was kindly invited to join a group of Pakistani's for a picnic lunch, nice afternoon. I also visited a couple of mosques and other sights which were all nice but nothing to write home about : ) I was going to watch two brothers who were famous Sufi musicians that I heard were a must see but unfortunately they were performing a concert in Karachi. Instead I went to the fair and then discovered a great but strange sport to watch. It involved standing in a crowd of very sweaty men all shouting and pushing alot. This was in aid of watching more men in very skimpy costumes rolling around in the mud and then chasing each other. It was a form or wrestling so I was told, but looked more like a violent version of kiss chase, although saying that I would not of told the competitors that! : )
After this I met up with James (the guy who I trekked with) to cross the border into India and watch the infamous ceremony! As we crossed the border, we had the usual questions and when the one of the border officials heard we had been to Peshawar, he lowered his voice, looked around and asked if we had any hash or charas (marijuana) as his friend wanted some, he said I don't want it all, just a little! Luckily James or I were not international drug smugglers but this very unusual technique almost worked as we were so used to the really friendly Pakistani's, James replied, sorry we don't, although if we did you could have some, the guy smiled, then explained it was a clever of him! : ) maybe you had to be there but we had a good laugh as we walked over the border to India where we were confronted buy possibly the easiest sales job in the world, selling a cold beer to two guys in the midday heat as they came from 'dry' country! This soon turned out to be a few more beers as we waited for the border ceremony to begin. The closing of the border (lowering of the flag) ceremony was very ostentatious but great to watch as the Pakistani and Indian soldiers tried to out shout and out march each other. They marched right up to the line of the border kicking there legs so high they were also kicking themselves in the face. Here at the line they came face to face, I was amazed at the enthusiasm it was still being performed with, every day since the Partition over 50 years ago . It has now become so popular, with locals (and tourists), each side even has built a grandstand to accommodate all the people (the Pakistani side having a separate stand for the women). The ceremony finishes as the flags are lowered and then the gates are slammed shut, it is all very funny to watch and I get the impression these guys must all know each other (as they do, do it everyday) but these Nations really do have big conflicts and are still fighting each other (and killing most days) up in Kashmir, on the line of control.
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