Glad to be back home after an enjoyable but hectic two weeks in New Delhi. The occasion for the winter travel was a family wedding. Most of the time was spent in attending to that - dressing up, eating and meeting with relatives some of whom I hadn't seen in years. On the return journey, I discovered to my relief that the security checks at airports, despite the Christmas Day scare created by the undie bomber, weren't especially draconian. Or perhaps because we were traveling as a family (my daughter, son and I), we did not come under special scrutiny. Whatever. On the other hand, former New York City mayor Ed Koch warns us that we ought to be really worried and not let our guard down because hundreds of millions of Muslims are terrorist killers.
Despite the hustle and bustle of the wedding activities in New Delhi, I was able to make a short side trip to the lovely old city of Amritsar, the home of the fabled Golden Temple, the most revered site of worship of the Sikhs. Amritsar lies on the western edge of the Indian state of Punjab, close to Lahore, an ancient city on the Pakistani side of divided Punjab. Between the two historic places lies the village of Attari through which runs the India-Pakistan border. Of the sixteen or so check points that dot the long border, the one located here, known as the Wagah-Attari Check Post, also contains the only official trade and traffic route on land between the two countries. In 1993 when the road opened for the first time since the partition of British India in 1947, the governments of India and Pakistan created a tourist spot at the border crossing with stadium style seating on both sides and the daily flag lowering ceremony at the gates turned into a spectator drama. This was my second trip to Amritsar. The first was in 1972 when the Wagah border was not a significant place to visit. This year however, we made it a point to go and witness the highly choreographed ritual. The Indian side of the border was chock-full of visitors whose voices drowned out the relatively sparse crowd on the Pakistani side which may have been the result of this threat just a few days prior to our visit. The ceremony was great fun - much rooster like strutting by the border security guards on each side, accompanied by singing, dancing and loud and friendly jingoism. Although my son took numerous photos which I have permission to post, I am including instead a You Tube video here because still pictures do not do justice to the circus like atmosphere prevailing at the event.