So I haven’t really traveled much. My last travel post discussed my first solo trip. However, India has been a country that I’ve traveled to numerous times. As a first generation Indian, with family still living in India, I felt it was unnecessary to visit other countries: I should use my ability to travel to see my family. However, there’s something strange about Indians.
See, Indians separate themselves. You identify based on the state your family originates from, as well as the religion you follow. This greatly segregates the vast majority of the Indian community. No one easily crosses state lines to explore other parts of India. So whenever my family traveled, we’d only visit the state of Punjab. It’s a state that some of you may be familiar with, others not so much. Punjab was a state divided into two, half in Pakistan and half in India. Pakistan Punjab typically speaks Urdu while India Punjab speaks Punjabi. And the residents of Punjab, in both countries, are called Punjabis.
If you have any inclination to travel to India, here are some reasons why you should visit Punjab:
1. The Agricultural Hub
Whatchya know about that farm life, bruh?
After the Muslim conquest, the state that I’m from was named Punjab, which means “land of the five rivers”. These rivers would be Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas. Perhaps because of this, Punjab is widely considered as one of the most naturally fertile locations on Earth. Standing in the agricultural fields of my forefathers is a fond memory that I will always cherish. And I can’t count the numerous Punjabi songs about getting lost in a sugar cane field with the love of your life. Secretly, every Punjabi romantic’s dream.
Ever drink milk straight from a water buffalo? It’s an experience.
2. THE FOOD
It’s no secret that Punjabis can cook. And eat. We inhale our food. If you come into my village and you don’t consume two meals under two hours, with two cups of Indian chai, you aren’t living right. I’m talking better Indian food than you’ve ever had in your life. I’m talking the full flavor of the fresh butter, no preservatives. Vegetables picked up straight off the fields. And of course, you’re probably concerned about the health aspect: “No, my food needs to specially treated and who knows what kind of bacteria grows on those plants.” Alright champ, you go with that mindset.
Lemme know how that works out.
3. The Fine Specimen (currently in Punjab or Punjabi origins)
Okay. I understand. We go to another country to experience their culture, not ogle their people. And yeah, every country has good-looking people. But Punjabis? Boy, are we a weirdly unique breed. Because of the Punjabi diaspora, we’ve emigrated everywhere. Here’s a few Punjabi people, if you had any doubts:
That’s Neha Dhupia. Placed in Miss Universe Top 10 in 2002.
Then you have Hrithik Roshan (and his biceps). For those that are truly curious, there’s plenty of pictures of his abs. Born in Mumbai, to a prominent Punjabi family that is closely tied to the Bollywood film industry.
Referencing back to the Punjabi diaspora, Celina Jaitly is a combination of a Punjabi father and an Afghan mother.
But see my point? Punjabi people are so different from one set to the next. I’m called Southern Italian or Mexican, depending on how long my hair or beard are at the time. People mistake my sister for being Caucasian. My youngest brother looks Oriental Asian.
4. The Festivities
Ain’t no party like a Punjabi party. There’s a positive and negative to this.
The positive is that holding your drink at the bar and dancing your heart out is a Punjabi specialty. We dance ridiculously, like no on else is watching. The majority of Punjabis don’t know bhangra, the Punjabi folk dance. We just choose to dance like no one is watching, or we just don’t care if they do watch. (Because damn, we look good.) We’ll hug each other, promise that we love one another, start screaming that the DJ better play our damn music, and throw out dollar bills to the man playing the dhol. By the end of the night, if there aren’t at least two fights about to break out, it’s likely been a dull affair.
The negative is if you’re a quiet Punjabi that doesn’t drink as much. You better have a great sense of humor, and join in on the roast sessions. The trick to being Punjabi is being comfortable in your own skin. Walk with an air of pride, laugh as if it could be your last, and love unconditionally. And, never be dishonest. Punjabis pride themselves on their word and their loyalty.
So at any Punjabi festival, smile and enjoy yourself. If you throw yourself into the midst, I guarantee you’ll love every second. ESPECIALLY, if you’re partying in India. Don’t forget the sudden dance-off battle that you’ll probably end up being a part of.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find this 8-9 year old picture of myself, when I actually tried to dance.
5. The Golden Temple
Parties and drinking exist as one form of enjoying life. But Punjabis are also very grateful for the opportunities that allow for enjoyment. I’m not a religious person, but there’s no greater spiritual place for me than the Golden Temple.
You have your faith, and that’s perfectly fine! The Golden Temple does not discriminate anyone. Sikhism, a religion founded in Punjab, preaches about religious tolerance and accepting others’ beliefs. Whatever your creed, you are welcome. Waking up and seeing the sunrise here is one of the most peaceful experiences you’ll have, and you’ll be grateful for a blessed life.
I wish I could write more about the Golden Temple, but it’s honestly ineffable. You need to experience it in order to understand.