I celebrated my graduation with my parents in Sikkim. It was a sudden holiday planned in order to spend some quality time together away from the hassles of everyday work. It would also be a long time before our family reunites thanks to some hectic schedules in the coming months for each of us.
It is a beautiful place. Paradise of sorts. I cannot possibly string together enough superlatives of the cool locales of Sikkim having just come from a hot-as-hell place myself. It is gorgeous, with all the mountains and the clouds drifting into your hotel rooms, the fog, the rain hmmm…its a different world out there. The one day we spent in Sikkim, I insisted on going all the way upto Nathu-la (the famous pass and one of the original silk-routes bordering China (Tibet)). I had seen enough monasteries in Dharmshala and Mcleodganj to satiate my urge to see more ( Rumtek is the famous one in Gangtok). Our clearance was obtained, all the papers sought in a jiffy and we were on our way to the border.
The road was awful (almost non-existent) and the rain and clouds bore down upon us mightily. It took an unusually long time to get there, exceptionally long even by local standards but it was a breathtaking drive. We passed around 100 army trucks laden with horses, provisions, troops and other eclectic mix of things being taken to the base camps below and others trucks moving troops to the upper reaches. After a bone-shaking five hour drive we reached Nathu-La. It was spectacular!
After a 500m walk and a few steps, we saw the barbed wire between the nations that formed the border. Five chinese soldiers stood there gawking at the huge crowd. Only thing they kept asking is “Why so many people today?”. Suddenly one Indian extended his hand to an armed chinese guard standing a few feet away. The chinese soldier stubbornly turned his face away saying a brute “NO!” to the Indian. This sparked off a major chant of “Jai hind”, “Mera Desh Mahan” which snowballed into full recitals of the National Anthem. I was embarrassed. You could see muscles tighten and faces fall in the Chinese battalion. I wanted them to stop singing. I wish they did.
The lone Chinese officer asked one lady politely if there was any special occasion to draw such a huge crowd to the border. I dont know if she understood the question because she replied “We are true Indians” and chanted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” complete with the arm movements. I fled from that place. I wanted to slap that lady myself. Why incite? Why provoke?
On the way back down I kept thinking about this incessant show of uncalled-for patriotism that we Indians seem to have in plenty. Only if they showed this concern and care for our country when they spit on the road, use the roads/rails as public toilets or damage/misuse public property, perhaps India would already be a superpower.
Now that was a Chinese embarrassment!