Contentious, saddening, troubled, the subcontinent’s borders are nevertheless fascinating. The road to Amritsar’s Wagah is bracketed by mustard fields. But you might easily miss the fields, divided by a barbed wire fence that marks the boundaries of India and Pakistan. As you stand centre and directly in front of the Wagah check post, you will see two metal gates bordered by two small tower- like structures and, on the sides, the brick-and –mortar stadia that provide a viewing gallery. Some 60 years back, this was the point through which millions of people crossed over from one newly formed country to another in lorries, buses, bullock carts and on foot.
Located near the small town of Attari, Wagah sits on the Grand Trunk Road, a massive artery built through the heart of Northern India, that once connected Kolkata
with Kabul. The actual ceremony at Wagah begins at 6:30 PM in the summer months, and 5:30 PM in the winter months, but its best to get there an hour early as the crowds start to collect much before the ceremony timings. As is customary in all military rituals, a bugle sounds, silence is called for, men then march out of their quarters and line up dead centre on either sides of the gates. Their feet pounding the ground, their arms swinging fully, a ranger and a soldier march towards each other, coming face to face, threateningly, glowering at each other. Then both officers turn to each other and shake hands.
Then begins the lowering of the two flags, and both officers shake hands again, the gates clank, the bugle sounds and the sun begins to set. And all lucky ones to be there on 15th August, might have some wonderful moments. The crowds pour in, songs fill the air. This clearly touches the chord among the spectators who are clapping and singing and shouting. An experience unforgettable.