Scores of policemen, school children and a lone car garnering support for Anna Hazare's fast were the only things visible outside the Red Fort as Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh concluded his speech on the 65th Independence Day.
Rain played spoilsport on Monday as the celebrations at the Red Fort were not attended by the multitude that is in attendance every year. The ones who did attend were drenched to the bone.
"There are fewer people than we expected. Usually there used to be scores of people outside Red Fort who couldn't get entry. This year there is no one," said a policeman who was on duty outside the Red Fort.
Rain started at around 5.30am and went on till 9am. A total of 10.9 mm of rainfall was recorded till 8.30pm.
School students however, were completely prepared for the downpour. Looking smart in their tricoloured tracksuits, the 3,000-odd children had been provided with transparent rain coats. Excited murmurs could be heard from these students, who came from all over the city, when the prime minister arrived in his motorcade at 7.20am.
Waving at the cameras, they chatted excitedly while trying to figure out which car he was in. "This is the second time I have attended the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort. It was better last time as there was no rain and we could see everything clearly," said Mamta Kumari, a class 6 student at the Senior Secondary Government School, Daryaganj.
But the national anthem and the unfurling of the national flag managed to bring everything back in focus.
"No matter how cynical you are, the national anthem sung along with thousands of people never fails to wake the patriot in you. There is something magical about it," said a bystander.
For the children who shouted, waved and clapped as the tri-coloured balloons were released in the sky, the word freedom means different things in different situations.
"On a holiday, we have the right to wake up later than usual. In school, this right would be the liberty to ask questions freely," said Kamal Dhal, a student of class 7 at a government school in Mayur Vihar.
For a six-year-old from a government school in Lodhi Road-present at the Red Fort-Independence Day was all about singing the national anthem and the unfurling of the tri colour.
"Seeing the prime minister in person was very exciting. I will tell my mother about him and the celebrations. She was also very excited," he said shyly.