From Bhangra to Biradari, the hearty Punjabis live up to most of their attributes, writes Mayank Anand
If there was research done there would be enough evidence that the English-speaking population of Punjab increases significantly after 9pm. The ‘bhai hai tu mera’ turns to ‘Joo are my Brudder’ and the threat of ‘Janda nai main kaun hasse’ and ‘baar mil tu mainu,’ turns to ‘You don’t know who I am’ and ‘meet me in the outside’. This, of course, is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. And Punjabis do not consume their alcohol like the rest of civil society. We pride ourselves in drinking anyone under the table and we do this by employing a little trick to confuse our already muddled minds.
Let me introduce you to
The Patiala Peg : There is a 15 ml. And there is the 30 ml. And there is the 60 ml, which, in effect is a double shot. And then there is the 120 ml. Which for every self-respecting Punjabi, is a Patiala. And one would think that it would stop at that. But No. You are in Punjab, remember. We also have something called the double Patiala. No prizes for guessing how much that is. 240 ml. You put a couple of cubes of ice in that and there is not much space for anything else. That, of course, if you were drinking in a normal glass.
Punjab is like Texas. Everything is big here. The houses, the people, their appetites (with stomachs to match) and their egos. It is my gut feel that the concept of kitty party was invented by the Punjabis. The women kitty party is generally held at a restaurant and everybody chips in and it’s a noisy affair. They are completely oblivious of the other diners in the restaurant. Men and women, we are louder than the rest. If there were a loud, louder, loudest competition Punjabis would win it.
There are kinds and kinds of Punjabis, the Punjabis living in Delhi are completely different to the Mumbai types whereas those living in Punjab are very much different from the other two. Like every other community, there are differences that come up every 50 kilometres. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Punjabis are great exaggerators, they can inflate their wealth, income 10 times without batting an eyelid. Writing about Punjabis living in Delhi and the rest of the world could be the subject of a small novel.
While a lot of other communities have also spread their wings internationally, nobody has done it as good as the Punjabis. The Partition displaced 14 million people and the enterprising Punjabis found their ways to different parts of the world – Ammrika, Afrika and Kanada and of course places in Europe. The enterprising Punjabis set up restaurants all over the world. Incidentally there is no such thing as Balti Chicken in Punjab. We now have a separate state in Kanada and a district in Einglaand (Southall). Except that people living there do not exaggerate their income and wealth.
The one thing that binds all Punjabis together is Rajma Chawal, Kali Dal, Gobi Gajar Shalgum ka Achaar, and of course Butter Chicken. The Butter Chicken is a 50-year-old invention conceived by the owners of Moti Mahal, a restaurant in Daryaganj, Delhi, and later on perfected by restaurants all over India. Chicken Tikka Masala is now a part of British cuisine, Marks & Spencer’s sells their masala in their food section. Chilli Chicken, Gobi Manchurian and Chilli Paneer are Punjabi. There is a whole cuisine for Sino-Ludhiyanvi Cuisine, China has nothing to do with it.
A Punjabi party meal would consist of dal, paneer, dahi bhallas, one seasonal vegetable, a Chinese side dish, 2-3 non-vegetarian dishes, Fish Amritsari and hot rotis off the tandoor. That ensures the success of the meal. There is also a Continental dish just so that you understand that I am an international traveller. The dessert would be gajar ka halwa, fruit trifle, gulab jamun with ice-cream, rabddi, and jalebis.
Weddings and matchmaking are the favourite pastime of aunties at a gathering. Hooking up eligible bachelorettes and bachelors is what their life is all about. They prod and probe at every instance they get and want to know why Pinky’s daughter is still single. Or why, if she did get married, she hasn’t had a child yet. Or if she has had a child, why she has not had a son yet. Or if she has had a son, then whose son is it? They never stop. Pinky’s daughter’s entire life is under scrutiny till the time her son gets married. Then it is time for her daughter in-law to be under scrutiny.
The difference between Punjabis living in India and those living abroad is the accent and the hilarious mixture of English and Punjabi for example, main sleep litatusi vi sleep lo (I have slept why don’t you also have a nap). Tusi do week na vastee hi aaye o? (Have you come for two weeks?)
The Bhangra and Chicken Tikka Masala are Punjabi contributions to international culture. Irrespective where they are, they play this music and even the 80-year-old aunts and uncles would get up to dance.
Nobody beats Punjabi when it comes to shit and fart jokes. We even have shit and fart proverbs, these are commonly used
- Sayana Kaan goo te girda hai- The wise crow always falls on shit. This is referred to someone who is arrogant and meets a sad end.
- Duye vich goo nai ta kawa nu citiyan – This is referred to people who show off, meaning you have no shit in your bum and yet you call out to the crows to eat a feast.
- Khaane Chhole te pad badamade – You ate chana and you are pretending as your farts smells of almonds.
Earthy as they may be, the Punjabis live for today. Finally, not to forget their ability to use their second language, BC MC etc, in the most creative way to spice up the conversation. It gets only better with a few pegs. Only in Punjabi is there a saying – aaj kha, kal khuda, let’s live for today and tomorrow god will take care of us.