Vandana K Mittal
First published here
WHAT WAS once just one portion of the thousands of kilometers long border that India and Pakistan share has over the years evolved into a place almost of pilgrim for both nations. I am not sure whether the name Wagah comes from some village or bit of land on ‘our’ side or ‘their’ side but there sits, right bang in the middle of the fertile Punjab fields that are planted with same crops by farmers of both sides at the same time, creating a seamless green carpet.
I first visited this border post in early 1972 as a child. The war had ended just a few months earlier and we lived in a small place called Khasa just about 25 kilometers from the Indo-Pak border.
We were shown around the border post by a Sikh officer of the Border Security Force. It was evening time and the sun was about to set. The lowering of the flag was about to take place and the Indian soldiers blew the bugle, marched to the gate and in a flurry of dramatic steps and salutes lowered the tri-color. The Pakistani soldiers came next but minus the fanfare and took their flag away quietly. We were told by the officer that because Pakistan had surrendered to the Indian forces, as per international convention, only India was allowed to lower the flag each evening ceremoniously. I do not remember how long this state of affairs lasted because on all subsequent visits I saw the two sides lowering their flags in the same manner with equal fan fare. Continue reading
M A Soofi visited Lahore a couple of years ago with a peace delegation from India. This piece recounts his instant judgements, sympathetic comments and insights on Lahore. This contribution to Lahore Nama is much appreciated.
Life by the Canal
The Daewoo van left Wagah – the international border separating India from Pakistan – and was now speeding towards Lahore, some twenty miles away. A canal was gushing forth on the right side of the window seat. Flowing between two parallel highways, it remained a constant companion.
Grassy patches sloped down to the banks, which were occasionally being lapped over by a sudden violence of the frothing mud-colored water of the canal. Tall trees on either side formed a comforting canopy over its length.
A variety of haiku moments flashed past the air-conditioned window: buffaloes swimming in the waters; a green-turbaned Mullah lying on the grass and reading a book; bare-chested young boys splashing water on each other, their shalwars ballooned with water; fully dressed women blushing, laughing, and taking quick cold water dips in the canal; a family contentedly feasting on a picnic lunch, with men and women sitting in separate groups; a young man and woman whispering under a tree; a lone man throwing pebbles in the water; two woman holding hands and sitting quietly; a middle-aged man resting against a tree trunk; a pair of boys washing a bicycle…
Soon these enchanting scenes vanished. The fallen leaves, languidly floating on the water, gave way to polybags and tin cans. Lahore was approaching. Continue reading
Posted in Lahore
Tagged border, cafe, Canal, Croweaters, India, Lahore, Mall, Pakistan, tourism, travel, travelogue, Wagah