Post details: Border crossing

2006-04-23

//Permalink 02:53:33 pm, Categories: Pakistan, 1185 words  

Border crossing

The Pakistani border is about 30km from Amritsar and there was not a lot of traffic. There is still alot of bad blood between the two countries, and travel for their citizens is restricted. I could however, cruise along - the highway all to myself.

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I had been tipped off that the daily closure of the border was worth while watching and so I arrived in the afternoon. The indian side of the border was like this:

Me: Hello
Him: Hello. You got disembarktation slip? (you get this when entering india)
Me: Yessir. Here you go.
Him: This one is torn.
Me: Yes it is. But it is still in one piece?
Him: And it is written with red pen. It should be written with black or blue pen. Never with red pen.
Me: Okaaay?
Him: What am I to do now? This is problems for me.
Me: How about we write a new one?
Him: Impossible!
Me: In Hindustan, Sub cotch malega! (in india - everything is possible!). How about we use scotch tape to fix the little rift.
Him: This is a big problem.
Me: What are you going to do? Keep me in your country?
Him: You want to leave India today?
Me: No problem, I can leave tomorrow. Or the day after! The day after that?
Him: Okay, I can do like this. And it will fix your problem. Now what will you do for me?
Me: Nothing. Thank you, Sari Jahan se Acha Hindustan hamara! (India is the greatest country in the world!)

Indian police and officials are famous for their attempts in trying to get bribes. Don't feel discriminated - as a tourist you will frequently experience this - as an indian resident this is just everyday life. I had my papers in order (carnet de passage for my enfield) and didn't need his goodwill to get me out of there. The indian customs relaxed as soon as they saw my Carnet de passage. Then they did a quick check of my bike (open this! yes yes. Now open this! hmmm. yes. Now open this!). All was found okay, and I was out of there within the hour.

It was with some regret that I left India - it is a truly remarkable country and one that definetly demands more time than I had on my hands. I am sure I will return someday to pick up where I left off. There are a lot of foreigners working in some way or another and you can spend days listening to their accounts of indian burocracy, buissniss and general way of life.

Now I was on my way to Pakistan. Wherever I came rolling with my bike, people would point me onwards to where I should go. The office buildings are many and not very distincly marked so it's not very obvious where to go.

The Pakistanis were okay, one guy quickly adopted me. Him: Hello Sir, I will help you because you don't have Carnet! Me: I have Carnet. Him: eeeh. Okay, I will help you anyway. No trouble with customs!! - in return for the equivalent of a few dollars he ran me around, filled out papers and got them stamped - I did not have to do anything but wait. After half an hour or so, the border was closing and I was IN PAKISTAN!

I parked my motorcyle, and went back into the border area to witness the ceremonial closing of the border.

India and Pakistan each try to outdo the other. Each side has a tribune where Pakistanis and Indians, on their own sides respectivly, gather in great crowds to cheer on their own border gards. Nationalistic songs are blasted out though enourmous PA systems, loudspeakers cracking and people joining in the songs. Now that I was on the pakistani side, the songs were mainly praising Sindabad (Pakistan) and Allah. Quite catchy, too!

The women had their own tribune, separate from the men. The guards were impressivly dressed and well coordinated - when they started their drill - I am sure it sent cold shivers down the backs of many an indian. They briskly turned their heads, slammed their guns, stomped their feet and paraded around the borderline like they were bulldozers sent to flatten the asphalt. Their Commander was up high on a balcony shouting orders like there was no tomorrow. I think he was equipped with an extra set of lungs.

I can only assume that the indians were going through the same steps on the other side of the gate, gathering from the cheering from over there - they were doing a pretty good job at it, too.

Finally, all soldiers in correct position - pakistanis and Indians guards facing each other, they proceeded to lower their flags simultaneously. This is one prestigious manouver you do not want to fu##k up, believe me. But everything went smooth, so I am sure that all the men will be there tomorrow as well. The flags were folded and paraded away, the boder gate closed and the crowd dispersed.

I drove to Lahore as the sun set. The road was under construction and consisted so far only of very fine dust, huge clouds were whirled up by the tyres of the cars in front. It was getting too dark to see with my visir down, but I could not see anything with the visir up either. The dust was turning to mud in my eyes, drying out my contact lenses, tears rolling down my chin. It's just another 30km to Lahore but it took forever because the traffic was moving at walking speed.

I was very dirty and tired when I pulled into a petrol station in Lahore to clean my sparkplug (the engine had started dying on me). The attendants and the customers gathered around me, eying me like an animal in a zoo. As soon as I had unscrewed the plug it was snatched out of my hands. Then: Hello! How are you? Where are you from? Do you want tea?

A minute later, my sparkplug was returned - shiny as new. I finished my tea and answered the bombarding questions. Where are you going? Two guys jumped on a motorbike to help me find the location of the hotel - we drove around for another hour while they stopped and checked and rechecked. The hotel I had opted for had been closed for some time, so they helped me find another one. They would not accept any money either, not even to cover their petrol - they just appologized for it taking so long and waved goodbye to me as they drove off.

There were some westeners already checked in, I parked my bike at a guarded parkinglot, got myself a kebab at the corner and threw myself down in a chair. Later, when I was brushing my teeth to go to bed, I happened to look in the mirror for the first time since the ride from Amritsar - and was amused to see how crazy I looked - face all covered in filth.

Now people in pakistan will say: yeah, those norwegians are DIRTY people..!

Comments:

Dette var artig lesning Max. Jeg kan VIRKELIG se for meg den indiske tolleren :-)

Har lagt ut et bilde av deg fra Jodhpur :-)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/espenlodden/133435072/in/set-72057594063042224/

Espen

Permalink 04/23/06 @ 16:04

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