Republic Day

So many holidays, so many celebratory days, so many religious days, so many reasons to party!

Today is Republic Day. I, like many, thought it was the same as Independence Day. Wrong again. Republic Day commemorates the Constitution of India, which took effect on January 26, 1950. That’s it for today’s history lesson.

President Obama is here. We have been hearing, reading, and gossiping about it for a long time now. It’s a really big deal, as the ruler of the free world, and the ruler of the world’s largest democracy are chatting over tea. Or chewing gum. They have cleaned up around New Delhi and Agra in proportions that make no sense (yes, I am good like that at keeping my opinions to myself!). They have scrubbed the streets of Agra. Not only did they sweep (in line with Modi’s “Swachh Bharat”, or “sweep India”, I wonder if Obama will pick up a broom) but they washed the streets. With water and little brushes. In a country where water is scarce. And reports say workers were paid 300 rupees a day, a bit under US$5.00 to do this job. But, bummer, the King Of Saudi died and Obama needs to go meet with the new king. So they streets have been cleaned for nothing. That is if you consider the inhabitants of Agra “nothing”. Now they have clean streets to enjoy.

The security around the American President is astounding, yet not unusual. But it has been on the front page of the newspapers here for a long time, with detailed descriptions of the armoured limousine and the amenities inside Air Force One. I think some Indians are a bit miffed that they are not trusted, but in this case, I side with the U.S. The Secret Service is always the agency in charge of protecting the President, no matter where he travels. That’s it for today’s lesson on law enforcement agencies.

Not quite. There was a breach of the security. Ayyaaa!!!! The culprit? A stray dog. I told you those dogs are smart as a whip! Gotta love India!

I went to my school’s celebration. At 9:30, hoisting of the flag, national anthem, a few speeches and dances for all the kids and guests. Then the little ones went home while the big kids, X standard (that’s 10th grade) partied. The invitation stated that we had to come in Indian clothes. I messed up the saree thing and was dressed in traditional skirt, a bit more North Indian than South India. They had decorated the assembly room, usually a drab concrete room where they eat their meals, play at recess and scram people during certain celebrations. They hung over 40 sarees to make it look like one giant tent. They had stalls selling handmade knick-knacks, bangles, food and tea. The chaiwalla of the day was extremely popular but I guess he won’t have much voice left tomorrow. They had a raffle, forced me to dance and unfortunately have it on video. They braided my hair and offered mehendi (henna design on hands) but I was in no mood to be motionless for a couple of hours. The girls were unrecognizable. Take off their braids and uniforms and dress them up, and you have the best fashion show in town.

 

Happy Republic Day, India.

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