India and Pakistan, two proud nations in South Asia, share a tense border, along with a history that includes four wars, numerous attacks and skirmishes, and nuclear weapons. So it's fitting that one of the few road crossings the countries share closes every day with pomp, circumstance, and mildly aggressive ceremony.
The Grand Trunk Road is one of Asia's oldest roads, and at over 2,000 years old, it wasn't about to get shut when the relatively new incarnations of India and Pakistan came into being. But when the border was drawn, it cut right across the Road, and weirdly, right across the small town of Wagah. Today, Wagah sits split in two, with the western half in Pakistan and the eastern half in India.
And at the border crossing, there sits two massive iron gates that are shut, every day, at the same exact time at 5 PM, in the midst of a resplendent pageant filled with precise drill teams, ceremonious headgear, and chanting crowds.
At its heart, its a microcosm of the complex Indo-Pakistani relationship. Soldiers stare each other down, show off to see who can be the best, crowds encourage them, and at the end, everything is concluded with a firm handshake.
We can hope that one day India and Pakistan will resolve all their differences, but hopefully the Wagah Border Closing ceremony will never cease.