Roughly a year and a half back, I, then a thirteen year old, was told that I’d be moving to Kapurthala- a town in North-West Punjab for about two years. Inside I was a mix of emotions, both happy and sad. Happy because I knew I’d be living in a place I’d always wanted to go and sad at the prospect of leaving Pune, the city that had been my home since birth. The latter though eventually got overpowered by the former.
So today, having spent a considerable amount of time in this amazing place, I narrate to you some of the experiences of my stay here so far and how Punjab went from being merely the enticing place I’d wanted to visit to the place I don’t want to part with and one I know I’ll always owe a lot.
Since I’d landed at Amritsar Airport till the day I first went to school, I barely had any Idea what this place and its people had in store for me.
So here’s where it all began- first day, MGN – IX A. I still remember the date when school commenced – 4th April (I’m confused whether to mention 2012 or not. Reckon it would sound a bit too obvious and hence stupid on my part.) and it was a Wednesday. When I first entered my classroom, rotating about in a 360° motion and looking around at all the children, particularly boys- their huge frames and masculine physiques, I wondered whether I had entered the right classroom or not and if these guys were actually my age. When I learnt that they were, the first question that struck my mind was- How many times had they failed in the past?
I soon came to realise why DESI GHEE was a such a staple for Punjabis!
When it comes to food, Punjab is undisputedly the winner. That pretty much explains why some of the best Indian chefs are from Punjab. Each time you have Sarson Da Saag Te Makke Di Roti , you end up licking your fingers and it only leaves you craving for more! (There’s even Amritsari naan, kulche, bhature, karhi and the list goes on. Saag however is my favourite and that’s exactly the reason why I’m so restlessly waiting for the winter to set in. :P)
Like they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” My father similarly told me, “When in Punjab, do as the Punjabis do.” I then set myself a goal of learning Punjabi to the best of my abilities. I began with reading. It took me nearly a month to merely recognize the alphabets correctly. It was infuriating to get stuck at every second word while reading but I was simply in no mood to throw in the towel. In the end though, all the efforts and hardships were worth it! And I attribute a huge part of my success to those of my friends who relentlessly tutored me, for being patient with a menace like me really isn’t easy! I can now claim to both read as well as write Punjabi, perhaps not with the same ease with which others here do, but for someone who had never even known a wee bit of this language before, learning it to the extent that I did, is quite an achievement I reckon!
Punjabi songs soon dominated my ITunes library. Even Iglesias or Pitbull didn’t appeal to me as much Honey Singh or Garry Sandhu did. Whether it meant strutting to the beat of Gabru or Angreji Beat or simply putting on the earphones to listen to music, my newfound love for Punjabi music had gripped me completely! I still remember my fanatical obsession for Brown Rang and how it topped my ‘Most Played’ list during my initial days here!
For me however, Punjab is a lot more than just singers, films or food. It’s the people, their kind and affectionate nature (not to mention humorous :P), the liveliness and sparkle of the bustling streets, the tranquility of the Gurudwaras, the serenity of the yellow mustard fields (they remind me of Raj and Simran :P) that together make for the very quintessence of Punjab!
Six months down the line, as the last leg of my stay here would have ended, I shall be carrying back to Pune not just hoards of jolly memories of this place, its people and their warmth, but most importantly a more mature and openhearted ME.
The time I’ve had here so far has been the best phase of my life. Kapurthala is now an inseparable part of me and will always stay as one… 😀