India-Pakistan border entertainment
Trip Start May 03, 2011
148Trip End Jan 31, 2013
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Foreigners are allowed to sit at the front stalls (behind the VIP area, which is closest to the border). Prior to the ceremony, the stony-faced soldiers mill about with the air of self-conscious debutantes and the real action is that of the spectators, some parading the Indian flag. Loud music and a compère pump up the crowd’s patriotic fervour
Then, with a bellow from the guardroom, a squad stomps out, shoulders square, moustaches twirled and eyes bulging. The drill is to parade up and down as dramatically as possible, preceded by a kick so high the soldier looks in danger of concussing himself. The high-octane march to the border, vaguely reminiscent of Monty Python’s 'Ministry of Silly Walks’ sketch, rouses thunderous applause from the audience and repetitive chants of ‘Hindustan zindabad!’ (Long live India!). The gates are flung open and commanding officers of both countries shake hands and salute (blink and you’ll miss it). Then, the flags of both countries are simultaneously lowered and folded and the gates slammed shut."