Wagah Border Crossing



Namaste. . . . . .

Darn, just when I thought today’s post would be a short, fun description of the famous nightly border closing ceremony at Wagah, we went to see Attacks of 26/11. Though it was in Hindi, the message was very clear in actions and in facial expressions. Terror, hatred, pain….Now I see those faces along with other memories,  pictures, and thoughts of friends both Indian and Pakistani.  It is not a simple picture.

First, let me tell you about the border closing. It is nightly at Wagah, the last border check-point on the Pakistani Indian border about 18 miles from Amritsar in the Punjab. All along the road there were large tractor trailers filled to capacity but parked. The guide said it can take up to 3 days for the trucks to be cleared to cross the border. Security is extremely tight.  I had been told that no bags either backpacks or purses are allowed, and we would have to show our passports.  Traffic was heavy and as we pulled into the parking lot, venders were hawking their wares. Our security was faster in the “foreigners’’ line, but we still had the physical pat down which some of the girls object to. No one likes it and it is uncomfortable but it seems to be a necessary invasion of privacy, these days, in order to insure as much safety as possible.  We had bought small Indian flags to wave and got settled in our bleacher seats.ImageThe atmosphere was one of a sporting event  with chants and cheers from both sides and much flag waving. It could have been a cricket or football match between friendly rivals.ImageA soldier from each country in finest dress uniform, goose stepped toward the other with wild cheering all around.  Their steps perfectly mirrored the other. The flags were lowered, taps blown, and it was over.Image  The crowd dispersed, and we were requested to be photographed. Everyone was in good spirits. 100_3086ImageThere seemed no anger or animosity towards Pakistan. It is easy to forget that the two were once one country and it was here in the Punjab in 1947 where the division into two countries took place.  Even during a period of all-out war, when the two governments thought this nightly ritual was inappropriate, loud cries of “No” were heard from both sides and the ceremony continued.

Now, here are my humble opinions on these matters. The attack in Mumbai movie was told by the Indians showing horrible slaughter of men, women, and children in a hotel, hospital, café, and cab. Of course, we couldn’t understand the dialogue, but no particular reason for the attack was made or was clear. The men from Pakistan made a political statement loudly and clearly. The Indian police were caught unprepared, armed with only stones and sticks. There is much tighter security now all over India. My opinion is that religious differences are not the root of this hatred. My life experiences have shown me that people of different faiths often have a bond and respect for each other even while disagreeing over theology.  There is a kinship of being “faithful” people. I think governments “gin” up the people by accentuating the religious differences which turns to passionate hatred. The real purpose for war is often power, disputes over land, or votes. I saw that in Northern Ireland, where the British were afraid to allow the Irish to vote because their sheer numbers would overthrow  England in an election.

Before moving to Phoenix, I was a real law and order person about the illegal immigration questions prominent in the news in 2005. But after seeing men wait to work for hourly wages, some working 10-12 hours to send money home to their families in Mexico, I witnessed the “faces” of illegal immigration.  At night, the men would stay in crowded flop houses filled to capacity just for a place to sleep before going back on the streets. These men are real, the problems are real here and in Mexico, but something needs to be solved, and while we need to be a nation of laws, we also need to care about “the least among us.”

I have dear friends both Indian and Pakistani whom I cannot imagine hating and killing each other. But this hatred and killing is happening here often according to the news along with severe atrocities. There are angry, hate-filled people in all cultures and religions, but there are loving, peaceful ones as well. I have no knowledge about past or present wrongs on either side, but I do know that violence often makes  change for only a short time. There needs to be heart changes on both sides that move toward mutual respect. I hope and pray this largest of the world’s democracies, birthplace of Gandhi, can reach a prosperous and powerful peace with her neighbor, Pakistan. Change for all of us can be slow, arduous work, but it is worth the effort.

This is Incredible India. . . . . . .


About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
This entry was posted in India, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Wagah Border Crossing

  1. Rusha Sams says:

    Love your concern for the “least among us.” Your passion shows throughout this post. Thanks for sharing this event and your take on the situation.

    • annetbell says:

      Thank you Rusha, I try always to walk a tightrope and not be arrogant about “my opinion” when I spend one day in a place and then pretend to be an expert. That is crazy. Thank you for just realizing it is “my take on the situation!” And you are correct. . . “the least among us” is a passion of mine, here , there , and everywhere !

  2. Rachna says:

    Very well said 🙂 I love the fact that you talk with love and understanding…and as one with the place and people. Not many do that or can do that. A lot of people I know are quick to pass judgement without understanding the cultural background or the historical past of these nations. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this 🙂

    • annetbell says:

      Rachna, I do appreciate your kind comment. I felt very honored to be a guest in incredible India, and fell in love with the people immediately. I am glad that connection is evident in my posts. I try very hard to be positive and concentrate on these aspects of the culture and life. It is very ancient and very layered. I am amazed at how well things are working for the 1.4 billion souls. Of course Indians know there are challenges and they are working to overcome them! One Indian blogger thanked me for not focusing on the traffic and elephant rides, as most tourists do. Truthfully, most tourists don’t have the opportunity that I did to be in India for 4 months with my professor husband and his architecture students. I hop you will check out more of my posts on India. The ones on Feb-May are all on India. We went back to the US in early May so there are other posts, too. If you check under category and click on India, you can pick and choose! Blessings, Anne

      • Rachna says:

        It is your deep connectedness with the country and the wisdom of your soul that leads to this gentle understanding. There is a lot that is not going well in India ( Every land and every people have their own difficult issues to transcend ) But there is a lot that is working perfectly well too. I will definitely check out your blog in detail xx Thank you for letting me know. I wish you a fabulous day ahead 🙂

      • annetbell says:

        I didn’t want to write a travelogue, but a group of postcard posts. We had 4 boys and 7 girls so we were concerned for everyone’s safety. Professor had to be rather stern about going out alone at night etc. Just being careful, though there was not so many attacks in the news in Ahmedabad where we were stationed.
        Please let me know your thoughts on the other posts that you read ! Big smiles. . . . . .

      • Rachna says:

        I definitely will 🙂

        Unfortunately safety seems to have become a big issue. Even though nothing may go wrong but the possibility that something might makes one concerned. The awareness on this matter is growing and I dream of the day when safety will be a given.

        I am glad you had a safe time 🙂 🙂

  3. YellowCable says:

    Unfortunately, two countries fight. I do not understand the basis of the conflicts at the country level yet but I am sure that are not shared by most.

  4. I got many friends from Pakistan and we are true friends.

    • annetbell says:

      I, too, have friends from both counties as I said in my post. I pray God’s blessings on both. Thank so much for sharing. Peace. . . . Anne

      • You are welcome.
        Since I was laid up with chicken pox for the past two weeks, I was not able to update my blog and unable to reply to the comments.
        Sorry for the late response.

      • annetbell says:

        Chicken pox as an adult. . . .ouch ! Hope it wasn’t too bad and that you had good care. I am encouraged as Mr. Modi has invited the PM of Pakistan to his swearing in on Monday. Haven’t heard if he accepted. I hope so !

        Have a lovely weekend !

      • I just recovered from chicken pox and will be completely ok by next week. I am looking forward to see the swearing ceremony of Mr. Modi on 26th. Let’s see who all are attending it.
        Have a lovely weekend for you too!

      • annetbell says:

        I am so happy he invited the from Pakistan and he accepted !

    • annetbell says:

      This experience was one of my favorite times in India! It was totally surprising after hearing so often about Pakistan and the tension between the two countries.

  5. annetbell says:

    Reblogged this on TalesAlongTheWay and commented:

    This is a fun, exciting evening event near Amritsar at the border crossing with Pakistan. Sadly, it has stopped due to the extreme political situation in Pakistan.

  6. kaushik kalita says:

    Thank you for the article.being on neutral perspective give new insights to the problem of both this country.but it is a fact that there is a rivalry, animosity between the two which will.always remain and wagah border ceremony is the culmination of this proof.

    • annetbell says:

      I am so glad to hear from you , Kaushik. As my blog followers know, I love India! I have not been to Pakistan, but I have Pakistani friends whom I love and respect and have so for a number of years. I wish the people from both countries could help solve the problems. After all, they lived pretty peacefully for years and years before the division under the English rule. I am no expert but it seems to me that all these wars in the world and the hatred that comes with them, are a result of oil, land acquisition, or a grab for power by governments. I think that people in both countries just want peace.

  7. Loved the post Anne. The atmosphere in the picture looks relaxed..far removed from the scene of the border tensions. The average Indian and Pakistani citizens may not harbor hatred or animosity, but the tensions never cease because those who benefit from it, keep it alive. Thanks for sharing this post. 🙂

    • annetbell says:

      I understand there was a bomb on the Pakistani size about a year ago this November. . . maybe a reference to 26/11? Anyway. . . .people still come! Go if you are in the north!

      • I will definitely plan out a trip. It’s been on my list for sometime.

      • annetbell says:

        Have you seen the Alora Caves near Mumbai? There are magnificent caves carved out of the hillside stone to make, Baddest, Hindu , and Jain . temples. I am probably not spelling it correctly . . . Did you know that Mumbai airport has free doctor’s vists and simple meds as needed for no charge for the traveler? Incredible India! I would love to hear your thoughts on what I write. Husband calls me the hopeless Pollyanna in my love for India. We are very different! He doesn’t go around waving and saying namaste to all Indian people but he loves it too. We agree on that, but he is a tad more critical.

      • Yes I loves caves and forts , so have been there. I think your husband is right in not being overtly friendly with everybody you meet. I mean one has to be cautious and that holds true for any country you go to. I would also love to read your writings and exchange views from time to time. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s