Every individual goes through a phase in their life where they are able to view instances with a completely different perspective.
The same event can have two varying reactions. However, most of the time, there is a fear of the unknown or unwillingness to accept change and react in the best possible manner.
As an Indian, I find that many members of the Indian community have a fixed, preconceived notion about our friendly neighbours - Pakistan.
Our opinions can vary depending upon our exposure to media, socio-political events, the grapevine and other informational tools.
However, my experience in Pakistan amazed me. Overall, I would rate the level of hospitality in Pakistan at a very high scale.
This has to do with the cities I visited - Karachi and Lahore. I believe Lahore came out as the clear winner, for food delicacies, rich history and welcoming people. Surprisingly, just when I thought I had seen it all, I visited the Wagah border. It is known as the 'red zone' and is a ceremonial border that opens into India. Many people may have seen it in movies and photographs.
The border guards participate in a parade and flag ceremony twice a day. The evening parade, especially, is quite the spectacle - with crowds coming in great numbers from both sides of the border to see the guards in action.
The guards sing, chant slogans and create the event of a lifetime, every single day. With the assistance of my host, we managed to go close to the border line, which was barely a few steps away from India.
I was gripped by awe and fear, as I stood admiring my country from the other side. As we walked passed a Pakistani guard, his look said it all.
My host commented that we could exchange pleasantries with the Indian guards across the border. However, the same Pakistani guard abruptly stopped him. Later, the guard realised I was an Indian.
Although men in uniform do not usually display their emotions, there was something his eyes expressed, but which he could not put into words.
We moved away and walked fast, not daring to wonder what was in store for us. On reaching the car park, I heard a voice calling us with the respectful 'Sir ji'.
We turned to see who was calling and saw the same guard who had admonished us earlier. Was he keeping track of us? For a moment, my heart skipped a beat. That moment of dread and anticipation will always stay with me. To my surprise, the guard apologised profusely for his earlier conduct.
He hugged me and said that he too had emotions, but duty always came first. It was why he had to put on a mask for civilians and give them the impression that men in uniform do not care.
This made me realise that even at the border among the guards, love exists in abundance. It is up to us to understand and spread this message of love and respect for all.
The reader is a country manager for a computer company in Dubai.
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