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Himalaya

Day 28: Lahore to Amritsar

Wagah, Pakistan 
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Wagah border crossing. A red letter day for the local porters as the BBC leaves Pakistan.
Michael Palin - HimalayaAt the border the road peters out in an open assembly area, full of trucks. Beyond this rises a modern redbrick arch decorated with faux-Mughal columns and cupolas and flanked by terraced seating. Through the arch can be glimpsed two pairs of heavy metal gates, with a white line between them, which is the border itself. Beyond them rises another arched gateway inscribed with the single word 'India', the grandness of the gesture somewhat compromised by a row of threadbare potted plants arranged along its parapet.

This is the arena for a nightly display of nationalist feather ruffling, as both sides lower their flags in a ceremony deliberately designed to provoke unabashed jingoism in the assembled crowds.

Loudspeakers blare out. The terraces are filling up and a heavily perspiring man wearing a T-shirt in green and white national colours is warming up an already damp crowd.

'Pa-ki-stan!' he shouts.

'PA-KI-STAN!' they roar back.

Two very small children carrying flags are sent out by their mothers to join him. They're greeted with tumultuous applause.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 28: Lahore to Amritsar
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Lahore
  • Book page no: 62

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