Caught in an extreme showdown at the Pakistan Border.
Our parents would have killed us if we told them what we had planned when we reached the town of Amristar in northern India. Thirty minutes from town is the India-Pakistan border. In any other case, we would have stayed as far away as possible. If it wasn’t for a friend who had visited a few months prior, we would have no idea what happens at the border as soon as the sun begins to set. Our intrigue got the best of us and we just couldn’t stay away.
Hearing of this special ceremony, we knew we couldn’t miss it. We didn’t dare tell our friends or families that we were going to willingly march ourselves to the Pakistan border. We could already hear the sighs of disapproval and the lectures we would receive. Being the curious travelers that we are, we knew we’d have to tell them all the details long after we returned from our adventure.
We hired a driver to take us the thirty miles to the Attari-Waggah border. Once we arrived we were met with a throng of Indian nationals who were also showing up for the intriguing event. Food was being sold on the roadside along with Indian flags, patriotic Indian visors, and DVDs of the event itself. A few children had fake tattoos of the Indian flag on their faces and were trying to sneakily capture of pictures of Chris, the tall white American.
Like most places in India, there was a foreigner line that separated us from the locals. It was significantly shorter and we were happy to be escorted to some of the best seats in the house. As the sun began to set, we were led to the border gate where the VIP (read:foreigner) seating was. There were grandstands on either side of the road that lead to the gate and they were quickly filling up with Indian spectators. Music began to blare from hidden speakers and the stands began to shake from all the people that started to cheerfully dance to the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack.
None of this hullabaloo was what I expected to see at the Pakistan border. It seemed like we were gearing up for an NFL football game, not an intense showdown between the two countries. As the song “Jai Ho” came to an end, an MC appeared and began to calm down the crowd. Once we were seated, a line of flamboyantly dressed border guards appeared. Looking as stoic as ever, one approached the microphone that was on a pedestal in front of the crowd. He looked like he was about to march off to war. He took one deep, long breath and… well, take a look for yourself
He let out one prolonged yell! He screamed into the microphone for what seemed like ages. What I thought was an echo was actually a border patrol officer from the Pakistan side. They were having a glorified scream off.
If that wasn’t bizarre enough, the immense showcase of bravado that followed was almost unbelievable. High kickin’ border patrolmen hightailed it to the border fence. Once there, they would stare down their Pakistan opponents as they slowly lowered their nation’s flag. A kick would be thrown out here and there over enthusiastic screams and chants from both countries audiences.
The entire ceremony only lasted for about half and hour, but the people watching beforehand made it worth our while to arrive early. If you ever find yourself in Amritsar be sure to check out this unique ceremony between two unique countries. You won’t see anything else like it in the world.
23 thoughts on “Caught in an extreme showdown at the Pakistan Border.”
How cool is this! The amount of people is incredible. Every time I read something like this I’m amazed by how much there is that I don’t know about.
Wow, never heard of this before but certainly sounds interesting. Were you scared at any stage?
Yet another reason to head to India! This is perhaps the greatest thing I have ever seen. Thrilled it happens every night, I will definitely be adding this to my list of things to do in India.
Wow…crazy stuff! I had no idea they did this, and it definitely seems a bit odd given the contentious relationship between the two countries.
This is hilarious. If I was one of those border guards I would be exhausted having to do this everyday just to close a gate.
That’s crazy!! We had no idea when we were there otherwise I would have liked to see this.
Am I being punked? Haha – that’s amazing. I can’t believe they do that every night. When I eventually go to India I’ll have to keep this secret from my mother too…haha.
So wait, this is done every night?! Wow! What a display! I laughed at Chris’s commentary throughout the video… the guards “threaten to kick themselves in the face”. Ha!
this is so interesting! another must to add to the bucket list, fo sho.
This is TOO funny! I was literally laughing out loud at times. Especially at the flag-lowering part. I don’t blame you guys at all for breaking your promises to see this!
It is mostly symbolic. Moreover this border gate lies in Punjab, the land of vibrant and often loud celebrations, so do not be surprised 🙂
I first heard of this spectacle from a video on Nomadic Samuel’s site, but his commentary, if there was one, pales in comparison to the Captain’s. This is what is awesome about travel blogs. I am sure you inspired or will inspire, hundreds of travelers to see this event. If those high kickers ever need a second income, they should look into NFL punting.
This is both hilarious and ridiculous but how fun to witness! Your reporting on it though was the best part – love the commentary! The whole thing “borders” (sic) on the absurd. No wait, it is just absurd! But I have just become very jealous of you getting to see it in person!
You guys are legends. Great post!
this is by far your best video, it is award winning. amazing. and i agree, you will open this to the eyes of many travelers… wow, it is such a great big amazing world. hopefully your parents are glad you visited now…
stay adventurous, Craig
Shut up! This is so cool. I love the video, too.
Almost too good to be true… 😮 🙂
how amazing it is, isn’t it? as a Indian the ceremony at wagga is patriotic and make us feel like Indian… Proud to be Indian !!
It was a huge pleasure for us to see it. Tawny wanted nothing else from the whole trip.
“None of this hullabaloo was what I expected to see at the Pakistan border.” Why? Because people Pakistan are not humans? They like to watch a good show and live life, just as much as the next person…
Oh, on the contrary! What we meant by that statement was that a bizarre show of bravado was not what we expected to be greeted with at the border between India and Pakistan.
Crazy fun! I might have to lie to my parents to and go check this out!
You are most welcome to come and Visit Pakistan.