Every evening, the India-Pakistan border crossing at Wagah is closed down for the day in an elaborate ritual that begins with a full blown dance party. Even though the two countries have been in a state of militarized conflict for the past 66 years, the atmosphere at the ceremony is carnivalesque. As thousands of people gather to watch the spectacle on either side of the border, an energetic host gets them riled up with patriotic chants. Soon enough, the speakers begin to play popular Bollywood tunes, and the crowds descend onto the tarmac for some spirited dancing in what has become a daily ritual.
Closer to sundown, the border guards take over. Dressed in nearly identical military costumes, complete with elaborate headgear and luxuriant facial hair, the guards put on an elaborate display of ‘carefully choreographed contempt’. It consists of strutting, goose kicks, occasional yelling, and a constant exchange of menacing looks, each country trying to outdo the other with fist shaking and silly walks. The ceremony, which ends with the simultaneous lowering of the flags and a quick handshake, seems to display a strange mix of hostility and cooperation. In fact, in 2010 both countries jointly decided to tone down the number of aggressive gestures and goose kicks - apparently they were causing knee injuries amongst soldiers in 0both countries.
Image: baxiabhishek via creative commons
FALLOUT is a series of blog posts that explore the side-effects of war.