It's an early spring procession in the capital city. A place that's seen better times - once the heart of a vibrant empire, now just one place among many in the super-national power that spreads from the Med to the Urals to the Atlantic. But still a special place, with its place of worship, its memories of battles won and lost, of fire and reconstruction. A place that has fallen, and risen again, for centuries.
And so many people here, for so many reasons. Some have come because their loved ones have a dreadful illness, and they're hoping something can be done about it. Some because they come every year. Some have just come to stand on the sidelines and watch and wave and cheer. Some have heard there's gonna be celebrities - famous people, heading down that dusty road towards the city centre.
And all come because, one way or another, they want to be part of something bigger. They can be lifted out of themselves to another place - a place where all people and all races, all their different aims and perspectives, are joined into a common purpose, which none can quite put their fingers on. A joint hope, that can't really be expressed, except in the cheering and waving of the crowds.
And when the day is over, and the grand procession is over, they head off home. Tired, some with a sense of achievement, some with just that joy of having been part of something greater than the sum of its many disparate parts.
So it's over, and the banners and the bunting goes away, the outer clothing is put back on, and they trudge back towards tomorrow. And if anything's changed, it wasn't for long - or else part of a change that takes such an age they may never see the final end of it.
Still, there's next year, same place.
There's always next year.