Two very spectacular ‘Retreat’ or flag lowering ceremonies are conducted in India every day, one at Wagah-Attari border, and the other at Akhaura border.
The former is an exercise in muscle-flexing conducted by the military forces of 2 nuclear-powered neighbors, India and Pakistan, who have a long history of political bad blood between them, and with every ‘incident’, the ceremony becomes more aggressive.
The latter is calm and dignified and feels like something between a ceremonial formality and a tourism development initiative. The pillars that mark the international border and the Indo-Bangladesh barrier are smaller, there is no grand spectator viewing gallery, the marching is less gravity defying.
India shares a land border with Nepal too. But this is an open border so there are no ceremonies, neither at Raxaul nor at Sanauli. On the contrary there is nothing nice about these borders. Raxaul has only a pretty commemorative archway. Sanauli is just a poor and dusty town with a checkpoint booth.
So in retrospect I guess the worse the political interaction, the more fancy the border!!!

The grass is no greener on the other side of the fence
The dust is just as dry and coarse and dense
The dance of the mustard fields is just as graceful there
The same fragrance of pollens permeates the air
The streets look like my own, with people in the same garb
Even though between us there is this coil of barb
I see the features of my brothers, faces just as tanned
Yet they show me a man-made border and tell me that is not my land


6 thoughts on “Retreat

  1. Having lived on both sides of that barbed wire, and having loved the dust of both just as painfully, thank you. That was beautiful. I don’t know if a free walk from field to another will happen in our lifetime, but I hope it happens some day.


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