Republic Day in Santiago

D 313 Day (January 26, 2017)

Location: Indian Embassy, Santiago, Chile. Latin America.

I had completely forgotten about the Republic Day. My friends who are working in government offices in India posted Republic Day pictures on Facebook and I realised of it. Since, Santiago is 8 hours behind the Indian Time Zone so my Republic Day was next day.

I got up early morning because it was very hot – mainly because of summer and second because of forest fire.  Last week, Chile declared state of emergency over the forest fire. US ha sent jumbo water-tanker-aircraft after Chile requested help from international community.

I got quickly ready. Then I realised that I do not have a single formal or ceremonial dress to wear at embassy. I put on the only dress – army style eight-pocket black-pants and two-pocket gray shirt and sport shoes. That was strange combination.

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ONE FOR THE ALBUM From my left: Madam Ambassador, Commodore Kumar and Mrs Kumar and other embassy staff and their family members.

When I reached embassy, Commodore Vinay Kumar was standing at gate in starched white ceremonial uniform to welcome visitors. I was covering Military Affairs for newspapers for years, first time I saw commodore rank officer himself was standing to greet visitors. He was carrying his ceremonial sword in one hand and forwarded another hand to shake-hand. He has wide and contagious smile which made me smile.

Introduced myself, “Good morning Commodore. I am Vishnudas…” Before I complete, he said, “So you are the crazy journalist who is travelling around the word?” I nodded my head and said “Yes. I am same one.” His shake hand was firm and warm.

Then he introduced me with his wife Mrs Kumar who was also very social. Commodore left for protocol duties. We were talking about life in Kochi, Mumbai and Peru and common friends like Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan and other. I had impression that VAdm Chauhan is still in service. She told me that he retired earlier last year.

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It was time of flag hoisting and all assembled near flag post. Madam Ambassador and Commodore came and went to flag post. She hoisted the flag and we sang the national anthem. It was my first time to sing national anther on foreign soil and we people whom I met first time.

Then madam Ambassador addressed the gathering. Mostly she quoted the President Pranab Mukherjee and Mahatma Gandhi. If I were journalist now and asked to write a news article of Republic Day, I would have given headlines as “Try Us: Ambassador”. It was catchy line.

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Madam Ambassador said, “You are not alone (on the foreign soil). In case of any problem, do let us know. Try us. We would be of any help to resolve your problem.”

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Madam Ambassador addressing gathering

Madam Ambassador said, “You are not alone (on the foreign soil). In case of any problem, do let us know. Try us. We would be of any help to resolve your problem.mA

Madam Ambassador said, “You are not alone (on the foreign soil). In case of any problem, do let us know. Try us. We would be of any help to resolve your problem.

What a comfort on foreign soil, when someone says don’t worry, you are not alone. After the speech she went to people and spoke at length with them.

Commodore was kind to introduce me with Madam Ambassador. She was generous to ask about my journey and if I need any help from embassy. Then she invited me for a group photo with all embassy staff. It was like a rare honour for a humble traveller like me to stand with great personalities who rose to the rank of ambassador and commodore.

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Thank you very much for your kind hospitality madam Ambassador, Commodore Vinay Kumar, Mrs Kumar, V Venkataraman, KM John, Shammi Arora, Harish Baxla, Jyotir Moy Sarkar, Mahesh Sharma, Sonu Kumar and Mohamed Ali.

Thank you very much for your kind hospitality madam Ambassador, Commodore Vinay Kumar, Mrs Kumar, V Venkataraman, KM John, Shammi Arora, Harish Baxla, Jyotir Moy Sarkar, Mahesh Sharma, Sonu Kumar and Mohamed Ali.

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