Feb 6, 2005
I asked Goga-Mama, "So what's there to see in Punjab?" He said, without hesitation, "Hospitality."
Today, as I leave this small-city, large-village in Punjab, I have definitely experienced Punjab by that definition. To pick us up in Delhi, Kaka-Mama travelled eight hours one-way! We came home and he insisted on us using their master bedroom. Another Aunt hand-stitched a "Punjabi" outfit for Guri, within a day! Kuljit took me around town on his scooter and showed me all the spots -- including an Internet stop which took me 40 minutes to send TWO emails! 84-year-old Papaji took me on long walks across the fields and through the Gurudwara, explaining the culture and history (and farming). As we left, all family members took time off from their work to line up outside our car and wave heartfelt goodbyes.
Punjab is clean, beggars-free and full of green fields. Houses have no heaters, and the doors have no locks. There is no sense of privacy; people walk in and out of your house to use the restrooms. Nothing finishes or starts; adults can walk into your room and just say -- "aur" (translates to "And?") to just begin where you had left of. Kids are jovial, flying kites on the rooftops and playing games around each street corner.
I asked Guri's grandfather if he had time to join us for the Amritsar trip -- he looked at my ignorant face and said: "Time? There's no such thing as time. When we wake up, it's morning. When we go to sleep, it's night. That's it."
And the food! Hands down, the best Punjabi food I've ever had. Ever. Sarso-da-sag with fresh spinach from the fields, aloo-de-parathe (potato-stuffed-bread) with fresh, home-made makkhan (butter), and lots of curd and sweets with milk from family's own cows! Even more than the fresh taste, it is all served with love, as if every meal were your last.
It's simplicity at its best. No rush, no agenda, no complications. People are real, honest and sincere.
Some youngsters, though, don't understand the value of what they have. They don't like being hand-to-mouth, they want discipline, they want busy-ness, they want to accomplish things in life.
[Pause] Every flower blooms when the time is right.