Today it is Independence Day in Malaysia and I struck it lucky here in Melacca as the guesthouse I am in had a prime parade viewing position. I merely walked across the road and had a superb view of the whole Merdeka parade this morning.
It has been clear since I came to Malaysia that Independence Day is celebrated with some enthusiasm. Flags have been exuberantly flying all over the place. Then yesterday when I checked in and they saw my passport, the comment was that I had just had a birthday and that my age was **. The reason that my age was so easily calculated was that I was born just over a week before Malaysian Independence. So, if you know how many years Malaysia has been independent, you know my age!
Last night things began. I heard the countdown and caught a glimpse of the distant fireworks from the guesthouse balcony. Like a New year countdown at home.
This morning when I opened my shutters I could see people assembling outside and a few police motorbikes around. By the time I had showered there were some more people gathering and it was clear I would not have to go far to find the parade I had been told about.
The parade was amazing and took ages to get to its end. It started with some military people dressed in white carrying an enormous flag in a flat position, followed by two groups carrying many flags. The parade continued with a huge array of marching groups, from schools, to police cadets, to workplaces to marching bands, to leisure groups. There was a smallish army presence. Some of the marching groups were deadly serious with their marching steps and others were more relaxed and even waved to people they knew.The crowd watching the parade were incredibly well behaved. There was a police presence, but once they had stopped the traffic there was little they needed to do with the crowd. I was near a family whose father was a policeman and he came and stood with them for a while with his motorbike. It was a real family affair with many small children watching. There were so many in the parade itself I am surprised there was anyone much left to watch it! When I ate dinner last night the waitress told me that the Melacca parade this year would just be a small one and that next year it would be huge for 50 years. I thought it was pretty huge this year!