Amristar to Patiala with a side trip to Mukandpur
Nov 29, 2010
|By Nirmal and Lisa
This morning we set out after breakfast about 8 with our final destination for the day being Patiala. We were planning to explore my dad's (Nirm's) village of Mukandpur in the district of Jalandher along the way.
This was our first day out on the highway in the traffic. OMG - I (Lisa) was silently having heart failure and Susan was about to jumped out of the car. Big trucks - did I say BIG - heading directly for us and then veering away at the last minute. I feel like we are constantly playing a game of 'chicken' with vehicles much larger than us.
Ram says there are three things you need to drive in India - good brakes, good horn, and good luck!!!! No kidding.
Ram, was unsure exactly how to get to Mukandpur and although we had saved a google map on the ipad before we left there was still need for a couple of u-turns. The roads were not marked very well - Mukandpur is a small village.
Driving the bypass through the city of Jalandher, in the district of Jalandher towards the town of Phagwara, we stopped at the side of the road where some people were juicing sugar cane and then recrystalising it to separate the impurities from the finished product and make candy. We sampled some of the final product, it was outstanding. They had just started the process, unfortunately there wasn't enough to sell us. This was a u turn that we won't forget, the guys at this tiny operation were so kind and willing to explain want they were doing to a few tourists in their country. They even posed for a couple of pictures for us. We thanked them for the lesson and proceeded down the road to Phagwara.
We arrived in Mukhandpur - Ram kept asking Nirm if he recognised anything, but he didn't. Ram suggested we look for some 'elders' in the village to speak to. We stopped at the corner store or dabba (lunch) cafe and Ram and I (Nirm) went to speak to an old man. It turns out that he knew my dad and was recalling the events on how the land we owned was sold here and who it was sold to. He also mentioned that there were relatives of my dad living nearby, and we should go there to find out the exact parcels of land that we had owned. We were led by a fellow villager, who ride a bike, as we followed in the car (guddhee) to a house just at the edge of town (about a block and a half away). The name on the house read "Sher (Lion) Gill". The lady of the house came out just as we arrived and the man on the bike tried to explain to her who we were and why we were there. She seemed a little confused at first, but invited us in. Her daughter was there and they soon realized who I was. She was so happy to see us - they said that Jiato (my sister)had called a couple of days before. The gave us each a glass of coke and asked us to sit down. They were extremely hospitable and she told Lisa (with Ram translating) that this was our house too and we should stay here as long as we liked. Her son arrived and we were told that he was going to be married in February and she wanted us to stay with them until then. After a short visit, an older man walked in and he asked me if I was Nimba or Jesse - I told him who I was and he hugged me. He was very glad to see me - it was really quite an experience. I didn't recognise him at first and then realised he was Sukh Dev, my cousin who stayed with us for a few weeks in the late 70's.
We went into the back yard of the house to take some photos. They had a small compound there where they housed 4 large cows and a calf.
It was really wonderful to see and experience the house and how they lived. The house was very simple with cement floors, but very clean, neat and tidy.
We took some photos and chatted for a while, but explained that we had to get going because we had a reservation at a hotel. They seemed very disappointed that we could not stay with them, but we assured them that we would next time for sure.
Next we went to find the bank that my father dealt with in Makundpur to check if there were any funds left in his accounts. We didn't know where it was, but we had the bank books so Ram used his detective skills (well actually he asked someone) and soon we were pulling up in front of the bank.
Lisa and I went to go in but it was difficult to tell if it was open or not. The door opened partially, but had a chain on the bottom that was locked to the other door. There were people inside so we headed in. Again, luckily we had Ram - he went and spoke to one of the men working there and they had us come and sit at their desks behind the counter. We explained why we were there - with Ram's help, and as it turned out, they knew who my father was. They told me that he went to the temple all the time.
It was an interesting experience. I felt a little like we were in a 'slap stick' comedy. The bank was something from another time. People would come in and go behind the counter to the men we were dealing with and shake their hand and speak with them. There didn't seem to be any security in place there at all - except of course for the chain on the bottom of the doors. Susan said she thought it was there to trip anyone trying to rob the bank.
One of the men seemed to be dispensing money from the top drawer of his old metal desk. I didn't see a vault at all, just large metal cabinets containing very old record books. There was a couple of computers (very old) on the desks, but I got the impression that they really didn't use them much.
While Lisa and I were sitting there, someone had obviously come into the bank and spoke to the men because one of them turned to me to ask if we were with the white people taking photos in town. Susan and Murray were obviously making a scene in town!!!
As it turned out, there was money left only in the account that was in mine and my father’s name. They brought an old record book out with my signature in it from 30 years ago.
Susan and Murray arrived in the bank - I'm so glad, because they really needed to see it. The man we were dealing with invited them to sit - someone quickly provided chairs, and they were offered chai tea. Who gets offered chai in the bank??
The transaction was complete and we headed out.
Susan and Murray were full of stories from town. It was a nice village, they watched men dying cloth, and saw stores selling hand made items such as mouse traps.
At one point police cars and police men with riffles came down the street where they were. I think they were afraid that Susan and Murray were actually Bonnie and Clyde.
There was approximately 5000 rupees in the account. As we left the bank we went back to Suk Dev's and gave his son a little wedding present from my dad.
When we left Mukundpur we stopped at a gas station so Susan and I could use the ‘toilet’. While we were parked there a man came down the road with a cart – very very over loaded – being pulled by two ox. It was quite the sight.
Nirm got out of the car to get a photo, and Ram got out of the driver’s seat to do something, leaving the van idling. All of a sudden we realized the van was slowly rolling backwards. Susan was in the front seat so we all yelled for her to put on the brake. Susan jumped across trying to put her foot on the brake to stop the van – in accomplishing this, she managed to become high centered on the emergency brake – and...covered in the water she was drinking. It was so funny, as all she needed to do was pull the emergency brake from where she was sitting.
Onwards to Patiala were we stayed at Baradari Palace, not kidding it was a palace, the rooms were huge and the ceilings were at least 8 m high. We had dinner at the palace - roti, three different types of dahl, and rice - very delicious as usual.
We felt quite royal sleeping in our fancy rooms. Susan and Murray – maybe not so much as Susan decided they should sleep in their mosquito tent!!
- Weather is perfect
- People of India are the friendliest I have ever met, and so polite
- We could all learn a lot about the importance of family from the Indian people
- Dam the food is good
- Saw many houses in the Punjab with very large statues on their roofs such as soccer balls, airplanes and birds. We wonder if they are to cover water tanks...