It was a surprise that had Indian Army officials completely stunned. Chinese army troopers, in Belgaum for a joint military exercise, sang India's national anthem accurately and with great respect.
The Indian Army personel were taken aback when around 90 troopers of the 1st company of the infantry battalion of the Chengdu Military Area Command stood in line and sang "Jana Gana Mana" in unison during an informal interaction here.
The rendition was almost perfect by the smartly dressed Chinese soldiers, a move the Indian side least expected of the one-time enemy. India and China have fought a bitter war in 1962.
Their gesture was hugely appreciated by the Indian officers at the command office of 8 Maratha Light Infantry Battalion in Belgaum town of Karnataka.
"We have practised it for one month and are happy that people actually acknowledged and appreciated our efforts," a Chinese solider said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Huang Xue Ping, a senior colonel (equivalent to Brigadier of the Indian army) of the Chinese army, who is leading the troops, said it was a tradition of China.
"It is a tradition of our country that we express our gratitude and regard to the other country by singing their national anthem," Huang told IANS.
After singing the national anthem, the Chinese troops dispersed and one by one entered the large auditorium to join their already waiting Indian counterparts for an informal interaction over drinks. Soon, they settled down on benches, facing the Indians.
Then the glasses were filled with the choicest of whisky and rum - that too on the rocks. And to go with the drinks were typical Indian snacks - mirch pakoras, chicken tikka, peanuts and eggs - served on blue plates.
After short speeches from senior officers of both sides, an Indian Army officer came forward, shouted "Ram Ram" and tossed his glass towards them, signalling that the drinks may now begin.
The soldiers' response was almost deafening. They clapped, cheered and gulped down their drink in one go. And in no time, their glasses were refilled.
But the Chinese had yet another surprise for the Indians - they broke into a hit Bollywood song from Shah Rukh Khan-starrer "Mohabbatein". The Indian soldiers too joined them in sing "Aankhe Khuli Ho Ya Ho Band".
The songs, cheers and the flowing alcohol seemed to rekindle the spirit of "Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai".
The Indians were not ones to be left behind and they too had a few surprises in store. Indian army officer S.K. Tiwari sang a Chinese song amid much applause and the Chinese couldn't help but ask for more.
Yang Jie, a Major in the Chinese army, said all his men were moved by the hospitality shown and the services made available to them since their arrival in India.
The dinner that followed was also a full Indian spread including poori, aloo gobi, raita, mutton and chicken curry, palak paneer and rice - and the troops from the neighbouring country were seen enjoying the food.
"I am enjoying every bit of India, especially the chicken curry. The food is great and spicy," said a Chinese Captain.
Nearly 130 Chinese troops, including 40 officers, are taking part in the joint military exercises with their Indian counterparts for eight days beginning Saturday. Though this is the second military exercise between the two nations, it is being held on Indian soil for the first time.
Last year, Indian soldiers had participated in a joint exercise with the Chinese military in Kunming city, following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between India and China in May 2006 during a visit by the then defence minister (and current external affairs minister) Pranab Mukherjee.