Republic Day Parade, Live: My Experience

It is a bit like the craze people have about watching a cricket match from the stadium. There are no action replays, no wide-angle shots, no bird’s eye views, no on-screen statistics, and most even don’t get to see, from close, the players they revere. But there is that feeling of being there, right at the place where all the action is, and of course, the satisfaction of being at a place where not everyone can easily manage to be.

When I received the letter from the HRD Ministry inviting me to Watch the Republic Day Parade from the Prime Minister’s Box, nothing seemed more obvious than accepting the invitation and sending the conformation. And I prayed to Murphy that he not dish out unnecessary commitments or impossible to miss quizzes and whatnots in the time I was planning to be away (He did butt in at the last moment though, making sure I missed a surprise quiz taken because 50 out of the registered 600 students had turned up for the lecture…)

Anyhow, let’s come back to the topic. I took a Taxi from Delhi airport and asked him to take me to Hotel Janpath (which, incidentally is a 4-star hotel near Connaught Place). During the drive, he looked back and asked me in a strong Bihari accent, ‘Kahan se aa rahe ho’. When I told him I was coming from Bombay, he continued, ‘Kya karte ho’. ‘Padhta hoon college main’, I replied. Hearing this, he asked, his voice full of skepticism, ‘Janpath mein kaise kya?’. It was only after I explained to him that I had been invited and blah blah blah, that he felt satisfied that I was indeed wanting to goto Hotel Janpath. He still added in a last remark, ‘Kyonki Janpath to 5 istaar hotel hai na, isliye pooch raha tha’. Finally I reached Hotel Janpath where our accommodation had been arranged for by the HRD Ministry. During High Tea, all the invited students introduced themselves and we had an informal session. We got to know the criterion for the selection for this award (or whatever you wish to call it). Since I didn’t find this in any blog when I tried to search it up before going to Delhi, I am writing it here for whoever is interested. Separately for Class XII and X, the top two students from each region are selected and then a cut-off is fixed so as to select a total of 50 students from the two classes. The other 50 students are University toppers. Their selection is pretty much random because there are lots of universities and so it’s quite tough to have a common yardstick. So, they try to incorporate regional diversity and also try to select students from as many different disciplines as possible.

My roommate was a guy from Jodhpur itself (In fact, we live in the same colony!) We were given instructions about next day’s parade and all the necessary do’s and don’ts (mostly don’ts). We were supposed to leave at 6:30 in the morning from the Hotel when the buses would take us to Raj path. After a hurried breakfast at 6 in the morning, we started off, sleepy but excited, after being handed over the personal invitation cards for the parade. We had already been assured that it would be an experience we would never forget and so our hopes were pretty high. After 5 rounds of showing the invitation card and the proof of identity, getting frisked and passing through the Metal Detector, we were finally taken to the VVIP enclosure. Now, the raised platform where the President, the Chief Guest and other dignitaries sit is flanked by two enclosures which are called as the PMs box, because that is where the PMs invitees sit. It was there that we were seated and so we pretty much got a perfect view of the parade as it was all done almost in front of us. Now you all already know about what normally happens in the Parade so I will skip all that. Rather, I have made a neat list of things which I found most memorable about those three hours there:

  1. Sitting in the stands on that beautiful morning wearing a tri-color rosette and hearing patriotic tunes mingled with the chirping of birds. It sort of plunges you into patriotic mood.
  2. The way in which the entire motorcade moves on the Raj path. So, elegant, it almost seems to flow. The co-ordination is perfect, the timing accurate.
  3. The national anthem being played to a 21-gun salute. I had heard the pounding sound plenty of times when I watched the parade on TV and always felt it was rather neat. But, the sheer impact of the first cannon shot almost really took me off my feet. The sound resonates for quite some time and each blast is followed by a huge shock wave that stirs you from within.
  4. The solemn moment when the names of the people winning the Gallantry Awards were announced along with a detailed citation expounding their bravery in the battlefield; I could feel what a bittersweet moment it must be for the widow/father who had been invited for receiving the prize from the President.
  5. The helicopter dropping orange petals over the stands at it flew past. It felt magical when, after about a minute, the tiny petals slowly came floating and fell on us.
  6. The sheer precision and poise of the marching columns. The perfect timing and coordination of the groups as they moved in unison with artistic grace and elegance.
  7. The orange, white and green colored balloons as they rose from all around us and slowly made their way up, in a way, taking India to the skies.

Seven being one of my favorite numbers, I will stop the list here! Anyhow, the parade lasted for exactly 2 hours, what with Monsieur Sarkozy needing to rush off to Agra immediately afterwards. We were taken back to the hotel, where, after lunch, we were given certificates and had a small photo-session. A Metro Ride had been organised on 26th Evening and a tour of the city on 27th. I, however, had to go to Gurgaon and so I bid goodbye to my newly made friends on 26th Evening itself. My flight back was on the next day. The return journey was uneventful unless you count the Autowallah at the airport trying to charge me twice of what it takes to go to IIT Powai, and on top of that, acting as if he were doing me a favor.

It’s always tough to come back to normal life once you get a complete, albeit small, respite from it… when you leave all worries and troubles behind for some time and enjoy as much as you can… But, as they say, c’est la vie!

It’s like eating something extremely tasty, hearing something very melodious or smelling something really good… Very rarely can you do justice to the thing by explaining, in words, how it made you feel.

One Response to “Republic Day Parade, Live: My Experience”

  1. Twisted anagram January 28, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    Nice post, Antariksh! 🙂

    “I took a Taxi from Delhi airport and asked him to take me to Hotel Janpath…” Here, “him” should be replaced with “the taxi driver”.

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