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Himalaya

Day 28: Lahore to Amritsar

Michael Palin - HimalayaWe can hear the same sort of thing happening on the Indian side, the only noticeable difference being that they have music playing from their loudspeakers, while the Pakistanis have prayers and readings from the Koran.

At 6.05 precisely (this is, after all, a military ceremony) a bugle sounds, and, to resounding cheers, two of the tallest people I've seen in Pakistan march out towards the border gates. These are Punjabi Rangers and to say they march is an understatement. Every movement is executed with barely suppressed fury. Arms are snapped out like freshly drawn swords, legs fly into the air, high enough to brush the nose with the knee, before thudding into the ground with the force of a steam-hammer. This study in bellicosity is emphasized by uniforms as black as their smouldering eyes. Fan-shaped headdresses rise like hackles from their turbans.

They are followed by a squad of 12 more Rangers, who emerge with a splendid mixture of panache, aggression and bad acting that has the crowd roaring.

Speeding, slowing, high kicking, strutting, stamping, grimacing, leering and hissing with a finely honed ferocity, they create the impression of caged beasts ready at any moment to bite their opponents' heads off.
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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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