the Republic Day Parade. Such a tradition. Such an excuse to sit in
the winter sun and be patriotic. Such a traffic mess on the day
itself. I attended this year and made notes so I could recap it here
|*not me in traffic*|
When they say “all roads are closed” they really do mean “all
roads are closed.” One assumed with a VIP car parking sticker (I
have friends in high places), I'd be able to zoom across the distance
and get to the parade in plenty of time. Instead, imagine a straight
line between my house and the parade venue. Then imagine a crazy
doodle curving and spinning all across the page. The little spot on
the crazy doodle? That was me in my car.
Once I got there, obviously the VIP section (with booths! Near the
President!) was closed, so I was sent off to sit with the “regular
people.” There were rows of seats on the grass and a set of theatre
style bleachers at the back. Those filled up the first. In the rows
of seats on the lawn, people stood up to look at floats and marching,
leading to lots of shouts, and in one case, a very heated argument
from the back.
|LET'S GO FLY A KITE, UP WHERE THE SKY IS BRIGHT|
Some people got a printed programme which was very useful in
identifying what was actually going on in front of you. There was
audio commentary, but they only started talking about the various
displays once they reached the VIP section, leading to a distinct
audio lag for those of us in the cheap seats. (Unfortunately, I
didn't notice the programme until much later, when I stole it from a
seven-year-old who looked really upset, until I reasoned with her
that she didn't need two, after all.)
|On the plus side, did not have to suffer these children doing their annual day dance|
We got there just in time to see the helicopters flying overhead us.
Funny how something so out of a dystopian film—the distinct whirr
of their blades, the feeling like war is imminent—could elicit so
much fond feeling in those of us sitting below. The cheers only grew
louder as a faint scattering of rose petals dropped on the audience.
I felt the same way when we watched the fly past in the end with jets
leaving contrails in the sky. Those things are used for weapons and
bombs and yet, we all paused to gawp at them.
|Hi! I'm a helicopter! Look at my friendly flag! Totally not going to kill you!|
The biggest success was the dog squad. Adorable Alsations and
Labradors looking very proud of themselves, tongues lolling out,
trotting professionally besides their handlers, except for one in the
back row who looked around him with obvious pleasure at the outing.
The other animals, i.e, the BSF Camels Contingent were no less
popular. The camels were decorated with gorgeous mirrorwork shawls
and their handlers all had proud mustaches. However, I'm not sure if
riding a camel is the best way to defend a border, but maybe the
camels are just for show and they have tanks or jeeps or something
less likely to buck and throw you off it.
|WHO'S A GOOD BOY? I AM! I AM A GOOD BOY!|
bit more baffling were the random “mechanised columns” showing
off our weaponry. (When I say “our” I mean “India's,” not
mine personally, but this leads me to a whole discourse on how
Republic Day is basically an exercise in saying “our this” and
“our that,” which I will get to in the next point.) Not only do
the missiles and radar equipment make for an extremely boring
tableau, but they seemed rather pointless in that these large phallic
shaped things were obviously meant to inspire confidence and show us
where our tax money is going, but it felt like a bit of a waste.
(Especially to me and my extremely pacifist leanings.)
|What's long and thick and full of seamen?|
Har de har har.
few words on whipping up a patriotic frenzy as Republic Day is meant
to do. This year, along with the actual parade, there's also a
“Patriotism Fair” on in Delhi's Red Fort with the army band
playing and stalls from around the country and what not. Now, food is
great, as is a good marching band, but it all stinks slightly of
jingoism to me. There's a thin line between being proud of your
country and fanaticism, and the problem with shows like the Republic
Day parade (and to a great extent, the Wagah Border ceremony where
soldiers stamp the ground to demonstrate their aggression) is that it
doesn't encourage you to think of the problems. You see the army, the
men who are basically fodder for wars that are stupid, the children
in the NCC, and so on, and you can't help wondering whether there's a
better solution. And the government doesn't want you to think that
way, they want you to keep going with the Everything Is Awesome
narrative they're laying at your feet so you can salute the soldiers,
stand to attention with the national anthem and so on and so forth.
|I CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALLLLLL|
And finally on a lighter note, the state floats were hilarious this
year. Everyone noticed Chandigarh which chose to express itself with
a man reading a newspaper in the park while people exercised around
him, but no eyebrows raised for the Goa float? Which showed,
incongruously, large statues of Hanuman and Ganesh, because when you
think of Goa, obviously that's what you think of first. Hindu Gods.
The digital India float, as dull as it was, got the most claps as the
crowds around me started whispering, “Look! It's cell phones!”
|Totally standing in line to go into a temple.|
(A version of this post appeared as my column in mydigitalfc.com)
I had VIP passes last year but by the time we reached, that section was closed and we were sent off to the 'regular' section. We didn't get entry there because we were carrying our car keys with a remote. And now I have lost interest. Too much trouble for something I can watch on TV.ReplyDelete
Kindly read your entire article before posting it... it sounds negative and sarcastic....and If you feel so....Please dont go there next time.. Its as simple as that....ReplyDelete
I swear had I not put a conscious effort in typing your name and searching your blog .. I would have possibly never believed that u have written this weird fluff, masquerading as funny (especially the captions)ReplyDelete
Wellll.. you can't please EVERYONE all the time. :) I enjoyed writing this though.ReplyDelete