Ride Overland With Kanchan & Nick

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January 2, 2012

Sangrur: Mystics, Martyrs, and Maharajas

People may have been wondering what the hell we’ve been doing and where the hell we’ve been for the past month or so.  Well we’ve been straight chillin in Sangrur at Nick’s parent’s house since November!  It’s been a long time since I’ve stayed in proper Punjab, and all I have to say is that I love my Punjab.

Nick has always had to take short trips to India due to work and this is my first time to India after our marriage so we figured it would be really great to spend time with parents.  I can now say that I have a great relationship with my in-laws and we really got to know each other.  This has been such time well spent to both Nick and I, and we’ll never get it back again.

We visited both of Nick’s parents’ villages, which was a lot of fun meeting the family and being force-fed fresh milk, lassi, dahi, fresh saron da saag from our khait (field).   Since I was coming the first time after marriage, I was the new voti (bride)—even after a year and a half of being married— therefore everyone wanted a view of the Amrican voti.  It was a little tough but fun to get the special treatment!  In both of the villages we visited gurudwaras where gurus had visited and mandirs of old sadhus that had lived there.  Mystery and intense spirituality surrounded each place.  Each village had some connection to the Sikh gurus, Hindu sadhus, or Muslim peers.  That’s really what Punjab is about if you really see the community, all these religions live side by side and people of different religions have such intense respect and even belief for the other religions.

Somehow the local eunuchs (honestly not sure what’s a PC word) found out that we were from the US and ‘newlyweds’ so they came to do their thing.  Sangrur is a small city, so I guess it’s really no surprise!  We convinced them to come the next day, and it’s extortion I tell you!  Our culture tells us that if we don’t appease their wants, that we will be cursed.  I don’t believe in this superstition stuff but something in the back of my mind made me a bit worried.  So the next day the ladies returned dressed up dripping with gold and asking for a ridiculous amount of money…as well as a pair of bhar wale ghane (jewelery from abroad) and my perfume.  Luckily I had a pair of artificial earrings I haven’t found anything to match with and a half empty bottle of perfume.  After negotiating down the price, the ladies got to dancing and eventually pulled Nick and I up to dance as well!  Later they did a little shagan ceremony and threw kanak seeds (wheat seeds) every where and gave us fruit and gur.  The whole thing was super surreal and we were just happy to have it over with!

Shortly after Diwali, it was Gurupurab, Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Birthday.  The gurudwara is just a couple of houses down from ours so the whole street was strung with lights, it was a beautiful sight.  At 2am Mom and I woke up to go for Aartee at the gurudwara, and that was definitely worth it.  I was also able to meet some of Nick’s old friends like Goldy and Fancy, they are so sweet and have always been there for Nick and his family.  Nick and his friends had a couple of rough nights with a tough morning, that can only mean they had a great time catching up! The thing about my trip to Sangrur were all the simple pleasures like going for walks in Banasar Bagh…riding side-saddle on the scooter with hubby…hanging clothes on the roof amidst prayers over the gurudwara loudspeaker…taking evening walks in the narrow old city streets…dinners of samosas, gol gappas & jalebis…guessing how old the Maharaja’s buildings were…watching jago or hearing the dhol of a bhaarat.

Sangrur is definitely a magical place…you need to have an appreciation for history, culture, and spirituality.  There’s definitely that touch from the time of the maharajas and the old city…even our house is within the original city wall.  We’ll definitely treasure the time we were here!

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