19 September, 2020

Border Blues

Border Blues
Though a resident on the subcontinent for more than 15 years, I somehow remained innocent of Pakistan. This was not deliberate. For one reason or another, each time I scheduled a trip something else intervened. The military coup in Pakistan made me determined, however. I decided to go the whole hog and cross the border at Wagah. The Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi experience was as usual enlivened by the children getting the most out of the holidays. It was the next morning at Wagah that the real adventure began, but not before I had run the gauntlet of touts and officials hugging the border on the Indian side. Before alighting from the taxi the hapless traveller is engulfed by coolies and chai-stall operators swarming like flies on a dung heap. I was early. The immigration office does not open until 10.30.

Taking refuge beyond the first barricade only eliminates the chaiwallahs and curious bystanders. The coolies traipse back and forth at will, refusing to take no for an answer, despite my visibly light luggage. They also ask to change money. Next were the officials, who were...



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