amritsar / a golden temple / a border town


we left uzbekistan, I would have loved to go on travelling through central asia – we met some people coming from kirgisistan and tadjikistan and it sounded really amazing (there will have to be journeys following this one). anyway, we left, on a plane connecting tashkent to amritsar. amritsar is the holy city of the sikhs, and a border town on the indian/pakistani border.
the sikhs have their golden temple here. an amazing pavillion floating in the middle of an artificial lake. everyone is welcome here, the sikhs seem to be some sort of meta-religion, they do not mind if you belong to another club… if you want, they pick you up on the airport (for free), get you to temple where they offer you accomodation (for free) or at least food (for free – and they feed up to 80.000 people a day). somehow quite amazing.
also there is the beginning of the indian experience for us: there is an endless amount of color here, there is terrible stink in some places, people somewhat lack the feeling for privacy and it is quite over the top as a first time experience. still, everyone is friendly and nobody seems to really try hard ripping us off. it might be india for beginners only, but I will keep you posted on that as we go on.
also we have seen the border crossing, the only one from india into pakistan. on both sides of the border the respective nations built stadium seating for a lot of people. and they come every evening, when (again on both sides) the doors of the border are slam shut, and the flag is taken down. for this (3 hour) event, they blast music (different tunes on both sides of course), shout at the crowd on the other side and cheer on their own soldiers, which are wearing on both sides the same operetta costumes distinguishable by their respective colours. this is an event that really makes you aware of the strange ridicules of nationalism, it would be out right comedy, wouldn’t it be the representative part of a sometimes bloody conflict.
tomorrow early morning we will try to leave amritsar (which is still in its monsoon period) and head north via jammu to kashmir. we managed to get a train ticket, but we didnt manage to get a seat reservation – we are told terrible things about indian trains (and actually there are really cheap domestic flights) but tomorow we will find out what it is like to go overland in public transport in this country.