My alarm rang with a musical note, I turned it off and saw it’s 4:15 in the morning. Surprisingly, my friend was already awake and I wished him Good Morning, he replied Jai Hind. This was the start and it certainly set the mood for making it Not Just Another Independence Day!
It was 5:20 and we, the three idiots, were out in a patriotic mood to celebrate the national festival. We reached the MG Road metro station and found it already awake before 6 AM. My friend asked for a ticket to Chandni Chowk but instead, received a free travel coupon. The person at the ticket counter said that today the ride to Chandni Chowk is Free.
It was 5:52 and we boarded the metro, but got no seats. It was easy to spot people with tricolor badge, traditional dress and young groups discussing national policies. I felt that my nation is now awake and ready to change. We reached Chandni Chowk at 6:45 and contributed to the queue, already too long. CRPF jawans were deployed at the station and were managing the crowd really well. Someone screamed, Bharat Mata ki and everyone replied Jai. This slogan continued throughout our way to Red Fort. I was like, wow!
As we moved out of the Metro station, we saw the security arrangements. On our way to Red Fort, I saw Delhi police, CRPF jawans, SWAT team, NSG Black Cats, Snipers on roof tops and many more. They seemed to outnumber the number of civilians attending the event. At around 7:20, we were at the gallery and as expected, the seats were already full. I took a look around and saw that the Red Fort looked really beautiful, our national flag was flying all over the place, four giant screens displayed the venue live, Doordarshan had built high bamboo towers to cover the event live. Then, I heard someone saying, “Aaa gaya” (he came), I looked at the screen, our PM was here. People started clapping.
Our PM was here with a style. The Jodhpuri turban was not less than a fashion statement. He gradually reached the stage. An army official shouted something really loud. I heard it clear at a distance of about 500m. Moments later, the PM pulled the rope and our National Flag was flying. But wait, something exploded, something really loud on my right. Is it a bomb?… Everyone trying to see. Phew, it is part of the 21 Gun Salute (Ekkess Topon Ki Salami). I was wondering, if this is the situation here, what would be like to be on a battlefield.
After an awesome flag hosting moment, the PM reached the Mic. No bullet proof glass on his front, no scripts to read, the gallery is waiting silently, more than a million eyes glued to the television, birds flying above the fort, the tail of his turban flying like a flag and he starts his speech. An hour long speech, and what a speech. There was total silence among the audience and when someone spoke, it was to clarify his last words - Kya bola? (What did he say?). The audience also acknowledged most of his statements with a round of applause. The speech ended with loud, energetic slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai and Jai Hind. Post this, the national anthem was played. This concluded the event, but we decided to leave a little late and saw the PM among cute children.
After some time, we left the venue at around 9 AM and decided to try out the paratha from the world famous parathe wali gali. As we headed towards the same, we wondered if it was open. Most of the shops were closed and some people said the paratha shop usually opens at 10 AM and today, it might be closed. Determined to taste the lovely parathas, we moved against all odds. And finally, we were at the historic parathe wali gali. The paratha shops were open and the fragrance in the air was making us hungry. But wait, we need to wait… The shop is already full and there is a queue outside the shop. The board at one of the shops, reads - Oldest and famous, serving parathas through 5 generations. There were pictures of many famous personalities like Lal bahadur sastri, Indira Gandhi, Ranbir Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Sheila Dikshit and many more. In the pictures, parathas were being served to all, but… we need to wait!!
Finally, hamara number aa gaya (it was our turn). The menu looked like a sabzi market with paratha after every vegetable name. You name it and it’s there. Aloo, tomato, gobi, muli, etc + some strange ones too like rabri paratha. The menu also revealed, its India at its best with the most affordable rates. The table had some free munchies and parathas were served well on time. We ate like pigs and then ordered lassi from another shop. The lassi was served on a kulhad (glass made of clay) with a slice of Malai (cream of milk) on top. It was the best Lassi I ever had in my life.
Post this we headed towards the metro station. It was again, over crowded, but CRPF jawans managed it really well. In the metro, a person caught our attention as he was carrying a box of Bengali sweets. He was formally dressed in grey pants and light colored shirt. After some time, he joined our conversation about PM’s speech. I asked him if he went to the Red Fort and he replied, “No. I went to the office for the flag hosting ceremony. This time, everybody was present. Instructions were given that if anyone is absent, his/her accountability will be checked”. He cherished the PM’s initiative on punctuality but revealed that some government officials are unhappy about it. Once we reached home, we saw the news channels analyzing independence day speech, but we crashed on the bed sooner than expected!
How did you celebrate the National Festival? Waiting to hear your answer and feedback in comments. And as always, Thanks for reading :-)