Usually the flag hoisting at the Indian Embassy here is early in the morning. We would start out from home before it was fully light, distribute flags for the students to wave, stand in the icy cold desert winter watching and waiting for the ceremony to begin. It felt good to endure the discomfort, reminding me of the extremes that my country men suffer to guard the nation.
Was this year's 9a.m. ceremony symptomatic of something? Besides it was bright and warm too.
The embassy had asked for 25 students from each Indian school. I wasn't surprised to find that no arrangement was made to accommodate them. So all had to squeeze together and try to get a glimpse of what went on. Seeing the tricolour unfurl and flutter, the shouts of Bharat Mata Ki Jai always make me emotional, and in the afterglow I forgot to be annoyed with the officials. I also forgot to frown at the late-comers, important people of the Indian diaspora, who swept in past the barricades to occupy reserved spots, for I was more aware of the 'common ground rather than the differences'(I've just read Mandela).
Hot breakfast distributed free by Mughal Mahal hotel awaited us. The students were given priority and they stood in proper lines - that was good. There are pretty trimmed bushes at the embassy grounds and the base of each was white with discarded plates - that was bad. Reading the India special supplement of the local newspaper was distressing. Some columns said that it was the 59th anniversary while another said that it had completed 60 years of being a republic. One claimed that it was 58 years. Is this confusion a result of thoughtlessness or too much thought?
As the Charge de affaires read out the message to the nation given by the President of India, I overheard a lady say, "Hey he copied it yaar. Same same thing Pratibha Patil said yeshtaarday." I felt nice that Indians did listen to the president's address so closely.