Our activity for the second day in Amritsar was going to the Indian – Pakistan border closing ceremony. There are many options out there, but we decided to join the taxi drive organised by the Jugaadus hostel. We would just have to share the cost of the tuk-tuk with the others going there.
The border tour was planned for the afternoon. In the morning we went back to Golden Temple and visited another temple, that is designed similarly as Golden Temple, but actually is a hindu temple. Go and figure. A bit confusing. But that is India.
Just before the noon we went back to restaurant we had dinner the previous night. The Kesar Da Dhaba restaurant looks like a very regular canteen – metal tables, regular benches and cold day lights (btw Indians consider the cold office lights to be very cozy). Once we had found the place, we even doubted for a moment wether we should try it. We risked and got rewarded with a very good dinner. The food was rather greasy, e.g., our plain parathas had a thick layer of gee (I wonder what the butter paratha is like…). But that made it extra crunchy, and we like crunchy! I also had probably the best lassi in India. Thick and a little bit sweetened, with some pistachios on top. Very filling. So before leaving for the border we went back to the place to have some more lassi…mmmmm.
The tour to the border started a bit before 2 pm. We were 9 in the tuk-tuk, which made it quite a fun ride. First we were taken to a “crazy temple” It was, indeed, the craziest place we have seen in India so far. The whole building reminds of something like the spooky-horror houses they have in the traveling thermals. This one had some disco aesthetics. Only after a while we realised that the temple is dedicated to fertility and conception. We had to crawl, we had to enter and exit rooms by portals shaped as mouths of different animals, and we had to pass a tunnel that was actually a representation of a vagina. There were also images of a lady with glasses, that might be their saint. One of the funniest items of the whole collection was a statue of the same lady with real glasses (same frames as in photos) on the nose of the figure. There were quiet many people in the temple and some of the families where bringing offerings, like coconuts and sweets.
Our 30km ride to the border turned out much more fun than expected. If 9 people in the tuk-tuk does not have enough fun, you can always spontaneously crash an Indian wedding. And that is exactly what we did! From the highway we could see many nicely decorated gardens of bigger restaurants. Someone asked, if we can take a look at one of the weddings and our drive immediately reacted with YES! So we all jumped out of the tuk-tuk and ended up dancing in a middle of Indian wedding crowd within 30 seconds. It gets better! They invited us to join the dancers on the stage(!). I resisted for a while, but then I thought – probably this is my one time chance to be on a stage in an Indian wedding… Ok, why not! 😀 Our performance lasted for about a 1 minute and a half. Then the driver came to bring us away. All in all we were paying him to take us to the border ceremony and we were running out of time. Before we left, the wedding crowd was so excited about us, that they tried to convince us to stay for food and drinks, but our driver did not give in. Though, he allowed one of the girls take his seat and be the driver for the rest of the trip to the border… You should have seen the faces of other car and tuk-tuk drivers…Incredible India!
We had to get out of the tuk-tuk at big parking for tuk-tuks, taxis and busses that had taken locals and tourists for the ceremony. There are many food stalls, water sellers and men who offer to draw an Indian flag for 10Rs on you face or body. Then the long way to the border begins where tourists are separated from locals, after men are separated from women, then again mixed all together to be separated for another check. At the end the VIPs are separated from the regular visitors. As tourists we were considered VIPs. We could take our seats a bit closer to the gate, but not close enough to be actually able to see the ceremony fully.
We saw the famous soldiers in very extravagant costumes performing even more extravagant choreography. We spotted the crowd cheering show-man in white sports costume. We heard excited crowds yelling “Hindustan…[something something]” (I could not understand the rest). The same was happening on the Pakistan side. But the crowd seemed much more organised on the other side. We put in our bucket list to see the ceremony from the other side one day. The ceremony was somewhat weaker than we had imagined. Maybe it is due to the fact that it is repeated every single day.
We retuned in the hostel around 7 pm. Too tired to do anything else Stijn went to bed, but I was still sticking around with the others. I did not expect that, but I had a lot of fun. One of the hotel responsible thought me and some guys how to make a sikh turban. We also had a spontaneous Bollywood dance workshop and I engage in a colouring session with some of the girls. I also got some insight in Indian prostitution industry, as one of the girls was working with prostitutes in Kolkata. I had a very educative evening. It reminded me that it is good to meet some other travellers and locals from time to time. There are quite many worlds out there that we are not aware of.
P.S. Stijn also got his first offer to exchange with wives. Stijn did not really liked the offer, so he had to at least promise, that we would return in Amritsar within a year and with two babies…