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On the border

30 km away from the city of Amritsar, in the Punjab area, you get to Wagah, the only border crossing point with Pakistan. Every evening at around 6 PM, hundreds of people come to witness the ceremony of the lowering of the flag, a show of patriotic exaltation between two rival countries, India and Pakistan.

Upon leaving the taxi, children approach tourists to offer them face paintings of the Indian flag, and just behind them, there are various souvenir stalls with all kinds of flags and cold beverages for sale, which will help during the tough upcoming hours under the sun.

After the first security check, some big tents appear where military forces show their weapons and explain their daily work in order to protect Indians against their neighbours. Weapons are available to visitors who don’t hesitate to pose for a photo with machine guns, bazookas and high-precision weapons.

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Finally you reach the border, surrounded by bleachers full of people as if it were a football game. Foreign tourists are being seated in a separate area from Indians, closer to the line of the border and with better views. Loudspeakers begin to blare at full power and groups of children and women dance and do acrobatics in front of the public, as a demonstration of their true folklore. But from the other side one can hear a different noise and one feels confused: it appears that in Pakistan, just 50 meters away, they are also playing loud music and we found ourselves in the middle of a tough fight between folklore and kilowatts.

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At 6 o’clock the music stops and the drumroll starts to accompany the first military on full dresses. The doors on both sides of the border open for just a few minutes and during this lapse of time, Indians and Pakistanis face each other in a peculiar dispute: to compare which of them can lift their leg up higher. The crowd goes mad, the flags go up and it becomes impossible to see what is happening on the border between the two countries. Everybody feels like a winner at the end, people leave singing victory with banners held high as if it were a match from the Premier League…

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Author: Joan Torrens

Amant de les ombres, llums i contrastos. Fotògraf especialitzat en bodes, reportatge social, retrat i formació. Visita la meva web a www.joantorrens.com.

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