This year, I got to be one of the little little people with colourful clothing. To say that it was just an 'experience' would do tremendous injustice to our nation's might. What unfolded before me in three hours encapsulated ten years' of patriotic movies like Rang Day Basanti, Lagaan and Swades. Watching one brigade march past after another made me miss sports day (almost). As each tableau rolled out it's culture carpet in front of the crowds, my enthusiasm would soar higher like a kite on harvest winds.
Ok. Enough with the similes. Everyone must watch the parade live at least once in their lives. (Well, not everyone, because the crowds got so chaotic this year that half the Glove got separated from us.) But there's just something else about watching a Parade. Waving at the helicopters and aircrafts zooming above, waving at the bravery award winning kids, clapping extra hard for the Karnataka Tableau (which was beautiful, by the way), trying to catch a glimpse of the country's leaders (which wasn't too hard actually, considering our Prime Minister wore a bright blue turban.).
But the best bit was the National Anthem. I know we've all squirmed and fidgeted when we sang it in the school assembly. But when some of the best bands play it in front of you, accompanied with the 21 gun salute, it transports you to a different world. You begin to understand the fervour of freedom fighters. You begin to see your nation's might in a different light. As each gun salute goes off, the ground beneath your feet vibrates, saluting the nation by itself.
Okay, so maybe I overdosed on Rang De Basanti before going to watch the parade. But it really was a brilliant experience. There were many non-patriotic highlights of the day as well.
1) Leaving your cell phone behind can be oddly liberating. For almost eight hours, it was like leaving a chain behind and exploring the world uninhibited. And this is coming from me, someone who isn't all that addicted to the phone and carelessly leaves it all over the house, always missing calls and messages.
2) Getting separated from a friends' group. The Glove ended up getting split due to different autos, different routes to India Gate interspersed with half of Delhi's population. So three of us made it to the VIP enclosure and bagged enviable seats, while the other three got left behind. :( It sort of makes you realize how important a big group is. But the one unifying factor with both halves was that we experienced two different sides of Delhi. I know I speak for the entire Glove when I say that Delhi is absolutely enchanting in solitude. Quiet, empty roads sprinkled with little flowers and wide, shady footpaths uninhabited by vendors is like walking into the 1900s all over again.
There are so many many more things that I'd love to record, but they keep fleeting in and out of the memory. Long story short, the parade was a fabulous experience, and the self discovery of a patriotic streak that I thought only manifested when I watched movies.
Hm. Other news. I attended a national Deaf-Blindness conference last week as well. Have you seen The Silent National Anthem ? It sums up the spirit of all the people in the conference. Of course, a good tip for the future is to carry tissues and surreptitiously wipe away tears brought out by a moving performance. When the organizers thanked me for covering the conference, the entire audience turned to find a teary eyed girl muffling sobs and waving feebly. (In my defense, the children who had just performed were beautiful, and I had no idea they would introduce me to the entire audience as their media representative.)
Oh, and Delhi had an earthquake last week as well. Not exactly an earthquake, since the epicentre was south-western Pakistan...but the tremours were felt. And it was a moment of further self discovery for me.
I am pathetic during Catastrophes. Absolutely Pathetic.
So the tremors began and woke everybody up. The buildings from across even began evacuating. I didn't feel diddly squat. Then I was woken up with a very rushed "Vaishnavi!! You have to get up! There's an Earthquake."
To which I respond, "So?"
Anyway, the earthquake didn't do any major damage, and I went back to my not-so-warm covers only to realize the magnitude of what could have happened. I didn't get sleep forever after that, starting at every little annoying pigeon noises. (at one point, I even thought the walls were cracking.)
I think after graduation, I will write scripts for melodramas.