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Monday, 11 June 2012

It rained

After days, weeks of waiting the wind picked up the skies grew dark and our little bit of Mumbai got truly drenched. Down it came, soaking the ground and shining up the leaves and giving everyone a little taste of what's to come. It was bloody lovely!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Wagah Border Ceremony

The daily ceremony at the India Pakistan border is well worth a visit. Magnificently theatrical and incredibly good natured it's got to be a high point of a visit to Punjab. Both sides of the border are thronged with visitors all keen to demonstrate their patriotism or just have a damn fine cheering and hollering session.

Visitors are marshalled by fantastically dressed soldiers who must spend hours practicing their stern looks. (If you carry a foreign passport you get put into a separate holding area, I'm not sure why but I wasn't going to argue).
Wagah Fancy Hat

Patriotism gets an early airing at the start of the ceremony when women and girls run waving flags while the crowd cheer and whoop. It's followed by high energy dancing by the same people and even more cheering and whooping.
Wagah Border Indian Flags

Then it's show time, high kicking, fast marching, competitive shouting and fancy footwork. Brilliantly choreographed on both sides. The Pakistan side is just as boisterous and jolly and the precision bristling and grimacing from both sides is a pure joy to see.

Wagah  high kicks

Wagah Marching
It's infectious, I cheered,clapped, whooped and hollered along with the best of them and did it all with a massive grin on my face. Wagah border crossing, all borders should be like this!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Golden Temple of Amritsar, Early Morning and musings on random photo requests

Amritsar Morning Bathing
Bathing at sunrise

Amritsar Morning
Warming early morning light

Golden Temple Amritsar
Golden dawn

As mentioned in a previous post, early morning is the best time to visit. I spent time here at various points in the day but the light in the morning was magical.

I wasn't sure how a foreigner taking pictures would go down but after being asked to pose with three different families I reckoned no-one would mind. I have a personal rule about "pictures with random white people" and only pose with family groups. I'm far happier on the other side of the camera in any case but thankfully I don't get invited into photographs too often. I more often get approached by children who shake my hand and speak to me while proud parents gaze on. Friends I travelled with got approached far, far more often, not only are they white, they're glow-in-the-dark white and the female half has blue eyes and light hair. Extra points on the "pictures with random white people" scale?

Back to early mornings, the glow-in-the-dark white guy of the group managed to get to the temple at 3:30, I tried, I truly did but could not raise myself from my bed, instead I met him for tea at the nearest stall around 5am and heard all about it while berating myself for being such a lazy sod and missing out on the experience.

I met a lot of lovely and welcoming people and had some great conversations. A fantastic place to visit with a truly magical atmosphere, I'd return in a heartbeat and this time rouse myself at 3:30am.

Cleaning at the Golden Temple of Amritsar

Amritsar Golden Temple, Cleaning

Early morning is a great time to observe the amazing social management at the Golden Temple. Volunteers and permanent workers quietly go about the task of making it the cleanest and best organised place I've visted for a very long time. Here the pool is being skimmed of leaves and other small debris that falls in. I was surprised that there were fish here, giant koi or carp, I didn't see them being fed but there's undoubtely a well managed system for that too