My second piece for Voice of America News captured the daily comedic confrontation between Pakistani Rangers and Indian Border Guards at the Wagah border crossing between Amritsar, India and Lahore, Pakistan.
I took a 5.5 hour train ride from Delhi to Amritsar, Punjab (home of the Golden Temple) and then hopped into a hired car to reach the border crossing by sunset.
"Hindustan-Pakistan-Hindustan-Pakistan." When I arrived, the cheers from thousands of Pakistan and Indian spectators - separated by a metal border gate and miles of electrically charged barbed wires - made the ground quiver with indigestion.
In the hours leading up to the ceremony, Indian women and men shook their hips provocatively - especially this macho man. I bet he'd kick butt at Dance-Dance-Revolution.
With such carefree splurts of sensuality, it doesn't surprise me that this country birthed the holy Kama Sutra.
The Indian Border Guards and Pakistani Rangers punctuated the start of the ceremony with loud war calls.
When I am working to predict behavior for a shot, interesting details jump out. In this case, I loved watching the border officials take long breaths before they coiled up their tongues and tonsils to form one long YELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.
Who knew mustached Jawans (soldiers) were so flexible. They put even the Rockettes to shame.
The kicks were not slow and graceful, they were heavy. Their boot clunks reminded me of some serious games of hand ball I used to play in Elementary school. I could feel the sting of half a century of antagonism each time their black boots scraped the concrete.
The shoot was a visual paradise, but was not easy for a one-woman-band.
Firstly, I was forcefully told I could NOT move from a restricted seating area, lest I am knocked out by one of the border guard's ninja style kicks. Secondly, the sun sets on the Pakistan side. That means I was stuck shooting directly into an orb of bright light during the ceremony.
I needed to ensure I would get some usable footage beyond a series of silhouettes or seductive ear shots. So, I slowly started to inch my way towards the gate. One foot in front of the other I played deaf and dumb - looking intently at my PD 170's flip-out screen.
The military officials on the sidelines were not pleased. They would consistently wave their hands and drag me back to my nose-bleed spot on the left side of the road. At one point they tabled the direct diplomacy and pushed me.
I'm sure the military action had something to do with the fact that I was right in the middle of the road - blocking the view of the ten-thousand anxious spectators behind me.
My Indian friend Jaspreet - who was by my side throughout the ceremony- later told me that if I were Indian I'd most certainly be locked up. He calls my acceptable antics the "expat edge."
The top Indian border official called me a Yankee as he was escorting me out post-ceremony. ....working "real hard" to improve America’s image abroad.
Presenting the Beating Retreat Ceremony: