Brent and I visited the Pakistan and Indian Wagah Boarder earlier this week. It is one of two tourist attractions in our state and with a day off and little else to do we took a short 2 hour bus ride, a very bumpy rickshaw drive and a very hot and squishy 1 hour car trip to the Pakistan border.
The border is known as the ‘Berlin Wall’ of Asia and each evening there is a retreat ceremony called the lowering of the flags. During the ceremony there is a parade by the Border Security force of India and the Pakistan Rangers Soldiers where the two sides literally take turns out-calling each other. The Indian soldiers line up on their side of the border and the Pakistanis do the same and one by one they take turns trying to shout the longest. This is then followed by an aggressive looking march towards the gate and eventually the lowering of the flags which all takes place while an unusually tall Indian man hypes up the crowd. As expected the crowd is segregated into men and women with a middle section reserved for foreigners.
After the ceremony we headed back to Amritsar to find something for dinner. Being close to the other main tourist attraction, the golden temple, there are only vegetarian food stalls and shops available but with Brent’s new ‘weight gain’ eating regime (due to losing 8kg from constant sickness) he was determined to find some chicken. Eventually we found a little old man who knew of a back street chicken shop and we negotiated with him 20 rupees (about 45c) to take us there on his rickshaw bicycle (basically a push bike with a seat for two attached to the back).
When we arrived we were surprised to find the tiny tucked away little shop buzzing and so we took a seat inside. After ordering we were equally surprised when the driver of the rickshaw bike came and joined us at our table. As our food arrived he leaned his scrawny body close to ours and ogled our food. “Mmm looks good, does it taste good?” he repeated several times. There was no way Brent was giving up his prized chicken but I looked at my humdrum vegetarian dhal and asked if he would like some. As I did he shrugged his shoulder and snatched the plate from me “Ok, if you’re not hungry” he replied and proceeded to eat the entire contents of dinner before leaving without a word.
Assuming the man was gone we paid the bill and set off to leave but our little friend was waiting outside keen to know where we wanted to go. After several attempts of trying to get rid of him we eventually gave in and reluctantly agreed to let him drive us to the bus stand. I say reluctantly because when we tried to negotiate the amount, he used the all too common phrase of “If you’re happy, I am happy” which is basically code for “I am going to rip you off severely once you get off my bike.” Sure enough when we got off the bike and gave him a very generous 55 rupees for a very short ride (but also for his persistence), he put on his best starvation face and said “only 55, I thought you were happy”. Getting a little more street smart or should I say ‘India smart’ we simply replied “yeah mate 55” and walked off ignoring his calls after us. The funny thing about many Indians is that when you give an inch they will at least try to take a mile.
|As close as we will ever get to Pakistan|
|Indian Boarder Security Man|
|3rd from front - A very keen marcher|
|The Indian side - spot the female|
|The Pakistani side- again spot the female|
|Lowering of the Indian and Pakitan flags|