>We have been touring North India currently and I have been fascinated by the land, the people and the culture. More fascinated by the smaller unknown places, people and their little stories. Presenting one such here:
On the national highway between Chandigarh and Amritsar lies this dhaba which is quite famous in its own way … the owner proudly told us that cricketer Harbhajan Singh came in the just the other night as he had heard about the place.
We stopped to have so have some tea and breakfast on our way to Amritsar … the dhaba is teaming with people – all men except two elderly ladies who are sitting there with their family. As one enters the dhaba, the men unashamedly stare … not lewdly, just plain simple staring .. no big city like codes of conduct here. They check you out especially you happen to be a female, not attired in the traditional dress codes of the land and also don’t look like them. No other mal intention here, one just has to get used to being stared at.
The dhaba owner is in his thirties, busy receiving payments and ordering his stuff. His 8 year old son plays around nearby. We just asked for the boy’s name, and out came the story of his family, history of the dhaba, his desire for sending his sons to Australia for higher study because “wohan pe padne wala course bhi acchhe hai ji aur banda ka life bhi settle ho jata hain”. Solid and simple logic. I wondered whether he has been reading the newspaper about all the “beat up the Indian guy” syndrome there but he seemed so happy at the prospect of sending his sons there, that I decided against it.
On one corner were these two big cauldrons which were on slow fire and were revolving making khoy or rabri (thick milk) while another chap was busy mixing up besan or ground lentils with water and other herbs.
The road in front is busy but had a soothing feel about it, tall trees with shades lined up the road like an avenue, the dhaba had a scene of happy and un hurried chattering, being together kind of feel about it. In front was the green green fields of punjab, spreading into the yonder.
The dhaba has been there for 25 years – started by the owner’s father. He seems quite content with his life and yet have dreams in his eyes for his sons. I wondered, if I ever came back after ten years or so, who would I see at the counter? would it be one of his sons or would it change hands?
I wished his all the best and walked out .. to another city, to meet some other new people.