For 7-year-old Sambhavi getting up in the dark on Monday was not too difficult. She was going to watch the parade. I got up because mummy said we have to wake up early to see the parade, she could not control her excitement in the Metro.
The Metro was crowded with people eager to reach Rajpath. From harried parents to college students,everybody was looking ahead to their seats under the morning sun.
The train empties at the Rajiv Chowk Station,and the crowd begins to march towards India Gate. Some get onto the green DTC buses waiting to take them to the stands. Mamma hurry up,we will miss the parade, a little girl with pigtails calls out.
After a long walk and two security checks,the crowd enters the enclosure.
The marching contingents and bands fascinate the children,but its the jets,tanks,and the motorcyclists that excites them.
The BSFs Camel Contingent animates 3-year-old Sukrit,while his parents applaud its precision and grace.
For Ashish (12),who has seen the parade five times,the motorcyclists are the best. His younger brother Sagar likes the planes,and when asked what the parade is about,says. I will tell you when I grow up.
The parents also become children when the fly-past begins. Oh look! The helicopters is a common refrain. Seats are abandoned and heads turn. They clap and whoop as the Sukhoi 30s perform a vertical stunt.
After the parade,47-year-old Hem Lal from Hastsal Colony in Uttam Nagar greets every soldier with a salaam and a ram ram bhaisaab. It feels good to greet them, he says,as he bows to an NSG commando. Umesh Joshi (48),who has watched every parade since Indira Gandhis time,says,The security has been increased over the years.
Another regular spectator Sudesh Kumar Sharma (24) says the similarities in the parades have not even remotely bored him. He says: The floats change every year,and then the air displays are something you only see here. I will continue to come as long as I can.