We arrived at Rajpura train station at night. An hour later we were in Patiala, the place where we would leave our hearts behind. A warm welcome awaited us at the home of a friend’s parents. We have never met these people, yet they showered us with blessings, embracing us as though we have always been a part of their family.
Over the next few days Grandma, Uncle Bobby, Aunty Satwinder, Pavita and the rest of the family down the road made their way deep into our hearts. We spent precious time talking, drinking delicious tea and devouring mountains of delectable food. Too much food!! Way too much!! But we could not resist.
A day on the family farm was a huge highlight. Green rice paddies, as far as the eye can see, surround the homestead. We enjoyed a drink under the trees, then settled on the porch for tea, cake and lots of talking. The kids visited the chickens and cows and made up games in the shade of a big Jacaranda.
A visit to a temple one night, all dressed up in my bright orange sari, was another highlight. Aunty Satwinder explained everything to us as we followed her around, washing in holy water and eating prasad. How privileged we are to have shared in something so special and significant to all those many local families. Praying as we go along that we shall all know the truth, feeling our hearts expand with love for all these beautiful people.
During a visit to the markets, I acquired a lovely Punjabi suit. Aunty Satwinder bought me stunning Indian leather sandals, which jingle when I walk. I LOVE it! She also bought us bangles and bracelets at her favourite accessory shop. What a fun experience!
We learnt a lot while living in the home of our now adopted Patiala family. Culture, traditions, struggles and life stories. Grandma got married at the tender age of 15 and lived through the separation of India and Pakistan. Her Pakistani in-laws, with whom she lived, lost everything and had to start all over again in India. Very hard times. Pavita’s eldest son, a successful lawyer, will have an arranged marriage in a few years from now. Today both love and arranged marriages are happening in India. Such a fascinating place.
Saying goodbye was a sad affair. Strangers have turned into family once more. How very grateful we are.
The Waraich family sent us on our way with their own fancy car and a driver. Mr Singh will make sure we get to all our lodgings and see all the sights in and around Shimla, Dharamsala and Amritsar.
Until we meet again, dear family. May it be soon!
– Mariza –