26 January – Republic Day Parade rehearsals

With a 50 km commute from home to office (give or take 2-3 kms depending on the route), it’s a usual practice for me to check Google maps to decide the route. This morning, as usual I checked the map and it showed massive jam on DND towards Delhi and the alternative route via Mayur Vihar, Akshardham and India Gate showed a clearer, less time-consuming way.

I decided to take that way and landed right in the middle of Republic Day Parade rehearsals at India Gate.

Obviously, the traffic jams started way before that, there was massive deployment of security personnel and barricades along the way. There were route diversions around the VVIP Lutyens Delhi, and the jams continued way beyond where the action was happening.

The preparations generally start couple of months before, with the barricades being up on the parade route, seating arrangements being made, stage and tv stations being set-up etc. Rajpath has been closed for general public from the first week of month itself.

The hassles apart, the good things – small Indian flags were already up on the route and so were the colourful ceremonial flags at strategic locations. The VVIP routes were being given extra sprucing up with more attention.

And so I saw a glimpse of marching bands, could hear some music in the background,  the tanks and rocket launchers parked in one of the parking areas around India Gate as part of the Republic Day parade rehearsal.

I love watching Republic Day Parade.  As a kid I was always looking for an excuse to miss school and watch the parade on TV. It’s just not about the sights of military might of the country, smartly marching armed forces units, floats and dancing groups showcasing heritage and culture of India, but it is the pride and goosebumps on hearing the national anthem; it is reminder of being the largest democracy in the world, having survived with all its flaws. There is resilience and positive attitude inspite of many things around us not going in the right direction.

And so I look forward to watching Republic Day Parade on 26-Jan morning; and I will miss the flypast over my erstwhile home this year.

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