?Traveling ? it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller? ? Ibn Batuta
Every step out for a new journey comes with its initial set of chills ? where will I be going? How's the place? How are the people? New set of people ? what if I'm awkward all throughout and I get left alone? Will they be nice? I hope they share my enthusiasm for food! And then, comes the journey. The initial hi's and hellos, some awkward hugs and giggles. Some jokes to put you at ease. Add to this already simmering concoction, a road trip with a purpose to meet fellow road trippers from across the border, and you get an eclectic mix of excited folks all ready to wave hello to Punjab!
Our #RideWithoutBorders trip with Tripda to Wagah was a similar journey, packed with some patriotism, some apprehension and a whole lot of excitement. We got into the cars gingerly, and passed around some awkward hellos, while waiting for the initial buzz of the journey to kick in. A crowded NH-1, and a whole lot of music, and a sumptuous dinner of makkhan-laden paranthas later, we found ourselves in the beautiful city of Chandigarh. The night trundled along, all of us giddy with the happiness of having met new people, the joy of conversations flowing like a river in the background.
We woke up to August 15th, and an agenda. We had to get to Wagah border in much less than the itinerary specified time of 7 hours, just in time to catch the Independence Day parade, live. Breakfast and a photo session later, we were in the vehicles, speeding along the buttery highways of Punjab, to Amritsar. Coming to greet us there, was a team from Tripda Pakistan, as a part of the same campaign. The awesome part? While we couldn't meet them personally because of border security, we could do a Conference Call with them once we reached the border!
Nature has a beautiful way of telling you when you are doing something great. A little ways before Wagah, it began pouring down in the most amazing way along the Grand Trunk Road. The mist clouded our windshields, and music began to sound like something straight from heaven. At the same time, we receive a call from Team Pakistan, that its pouring down equally beautifully, on their side of the border.
In a parallel universe, we're probably still the same country, and there are no borders.
There's only one word I can possibly use to describe what I felt at Wagah ? Energy. Never have I seen so many people feel so positive at the same time. Our lives are so laden with the anguish and stress that we face, that pure emotions just run out of the door in our lives. At Wagah, people were just genuinely happy about the Independence that we fought for and received 69 years ago. The colours of Punjab, were all successfully captured in Wagah, with just the beauty of it for people to marvel at. Each drum beat at the parade has the power to pulsate in one's soul, and to make us feel like bleeding for the country that we call home.
One of my friends, during one of our discussions told me passionately, Amritsar is about three kinds of emotions ? At Wagah, you are captivated by the pain and struggle of your ancestors, and the patriotism that was a given in those times. At Jallianwallah Bagh, you feel emotional about the massacre that happened, and you're overtaken by a passive sense of grief for your countrymen. At the Golden Temple, you shed all your inhibitions, clear your mind of all clutter, and reconnect with your soul. The Golden Temple isn't religious, but spiritual. The feeling that dawns upon you, sitting by the Sarovar for a few moments, is the epitome of peace and quietude. An amalgamation of these three emotions, is a reason why you should take a trip to Amritsar, especially on Independence Day. I'm happy I did.
The late-night trip to Gurudwara Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) was something that we all had to do. The night-time pictures that I had seen from other people, already had me hooked, and I had to see for myself what the beautiful temple looks like under a blanket of stars.
Imagine a place where you enter after washing your feet in water that is fed by a river, by an ancient architectural marvel. Imagine a place where you cover your head because of reverence and piety. Imagine a place with a large lake, which is believed to be made of Amrit (An Immortal Nectar). Imagine a place where hundreds of people are fed with love, they take a dip in the lake and go to sleep at night, with stars and prayer to keep them company. While our cameras snapped hundreds of times that evening, at one point, everybody put them away, and just soaked in the idea of the peaceful solitude that is bountiful in the holy premises of the delightful place that we were at.
The next morning, we were scheduled to come back to Delhi. I remember taking a few minutes off to say goodbye to the old city, the one that had welcomed us in its arms so warmly. Rickshaw pullers, auto drivers, sevaks in the Gurudwara, the officials and people at Wagah, our hotel staff, I couldn't remember a single person who hadn't greeted us with a smile. Our hearts were all heavy, but we had a long way to go. After some delicious lunch at Amritsar's fabled Bhrawan da Dhaba (literally meaning ?Brother's Eatery?), we started our drive back to Delhi.
The road, the fun, the impromptu showers, the temple, the border, the music, the new friends, the insane car chasing games that we'd play on the way, together made for an unforgettable journey. We thank Team Tripda for a great initiative to bring a small set of people from both the countries together, and we thank Revv Cars, for being our ride for those three lovely days.
When I'm 80, I shall probably not have stories of how I crossed the border during 1947, like my grandmother did. But I will have another story for my grandkids ? about how I took a trip with 10 other people whom I did not know, on a national holiday, to one of India's borders, walked along the border of India and Pakistan, along the barbed wires, saw two-for-joy perched on a hoisted Indian flag, saw a glimpse of the parade, ate at some great Punjabi dhabas, and played chasing cars like we were all 7 years old. I like the story that I'll have up my sleeve.
And oh! Happy Independence Day, dear country. I've grown to love you much, much more because of travel.