Apart from the Golden Temple we didn’t see a great deal more of Amritsar. There is a park called Jallianwalla Bagh where the British massacred a group of unarmed Indian protesters in 1919. Mel was struck by Deja Vu as we entered and I helpfully told her that there was no particular significance – the massacre somehow slipping my mind. We were able to amuse her later though by getting interested in this little fella:
The other Amritsar activity is to take a taxi to the border with Pakistan at Wagah where every evening at sunset an overblown ceremony is held as the border is closed. We went on a busy night as even the road leading up to the border descended into an almighty crush. The police were ineffectual in trying to split up the group into females on one side and males on the other, it ended up just a mass of people and the Indian men seemed happy to grope regardless of the sex. Just as it was getting particularly unbearable and I had lost everyone I came with there was a scream up ahead and a clatter. The sound, I later discovered, had been a woman falling and knocking over a security barrier in the process. This made the police spring into action and try to separate the sides by steaming forward and shoving people (me included) away from the centre to form as close to single file as was achievable. At the same time, they blocked the road behind to stop more people joining. This worked for a while as first the women were let through and then our queue began to move slowly as well. Just as I was reaching the front, however, they opened the floodgates and I was in another almighty scramble just at the entrance as the men from behind sprinted past our queue. The grandstands past the entrance were literally packed at this point and I luckily found some of the guys because none of us could get close enough to see. The answer of course was to head for the VIP section, which of course, as foreigners, we had immediate access to and as a result a pretty good view.
Loud Hindi music was blaring and the crowd singing along as dancers gave it there all to Jai Ho and the like. The the ceremony, as an MC led the crowd in “Hindustan Zindabad” and similar was going on the Pakistan side. Then the Ministry for silly walks took over as marchers took it in turns to taunt the other side.
A bizarre spectacle and something you can’t really imagine anywhere else in the world..