I sang it three times over the last three days. The first time, in a theatre before watching a film two nights ago. Just before we began, I remember thinking, incongruously, do I really care if there are people here who are not standing? How do I best respect an anthem, by looking around to see who's not standing and then filling myself with anger at them? Or by focusing on what it means to me?
The second time, early this morning January 26th. Not quite the full light of day yet, and I heard the strains, softly through the window. From a nearby park, I think. Standing at the window, two of us sang along softly. It was only when we were done that I realized I had only one slipper on.
The third time, about two hours afterward. Walked into a fishing village nearby. Within 25 yards of each other, with small crowds gathering around their posts, there were two flags waiting to be unfurled. Flowers on the ground, small paper flags stuck in window frames, songs from Rang de Basanti through a large speaker, lots of kids smiling and waving.
Without warning, I found a phalanx of men in pure white striding towards us at the further pole. In the middle was a local politician. Call me cynical, but if this man was going to be unfurling this flag, I wanted nothing to do with it.
I walked back to the first pole, where a small posse of policemen stood in formation, getting ready for the little ceremony. Climbed on a low wall to get some pix. An inspector snapped out a few words, four constables held their rifles to their shoulders, another constable untied the rope that let the flag fly free, and all of us sang the anthem. Nobody noticed the film star standing quietly at the back, singing along.
When we were done, another constable, an older, frailer man, bent low to tie the rope down to the pole. Somehow for me, that moment spoke most clearly of meaning.
From the other pole, the white phalanx, done with their ceremony, set out in our direction. Still wanting nothing to do with it, I leaped off the wall and headed home.