Ludhiana: The Rose Garden and Indian Serials (Soap Operas)

Good morning everyone,

Okay so Ludhiana has a Rose Garden too, a much smaller version that the one in Chandigarh with a small variety of roses, some fountains, a playground for children and tiny dustbin statues of street dogs to encourage people not to litter (they are too tiny to be effective).

The host unit and little sister wanted to stay in Ludhiana for a day or two before moving on to Shimla, so off we went to Ludhiana again, where the host unit has two brothers and a sister living within a few miles of one another.

We went through all the trouble of booking a car when bang!  Change of plans without telling me happens … again … for like the fifteenth time.   Some uncle somewhere just decided to book a different car for us, said it would be cheaper.  Well, guess what?  It was not cheaper (it was 200 rupees more) and the car was filthy – the stink made the little sister sick for the whole car ride and for many hours after.  So you know… thanks for saving me no money at all while downgrading the experience all without discussing it with me first.  Awesome.  No, no… not awesome… there’s another phrase I’m looking for… right… not cool.  Yeap, that’s the one.

I don’t want to rant about the host unit but I have talked about this issue with them until I’m blue in the face so… here comes the rant.

Who the frack does that?  I make the plans in consultation with them, I book all the necessary things again in consultation with them and then… passive-aggressive “I’ve changed it because this is better”… ummmmmmmm.  No, you changed it because you’re super passive-aggressive and completely ignorant.  That right there is why you changed the plans.

So I have the discussion yet again.  I tell them, if this happens one more time, I will not be going to Shimla and I will not be paying for any more trips for you.  Just for me.  Get it?  Hate to pull this on you but I am shelling out all the money here so if you can’t respect me just because I’m me then back the truck up and speak to me because I’m paying all the bills … you know me who is planning the trip before changing the plans for MY trip.  Stop being so damned disrespectful.  They promise!  “Please, we will go to Ludhiana and Shimla and we won’t do it again!  We will talk to you and not treat you like you’re some tag-along 4 year old.”  And their promises are worth… nothing.  That’s right.  Absolutely freakin’ nothing.

But that’s a story for another post.  Needless to say, my road trips will now be solo.  Just me and the driver.  That’s how that sort of issue with the passive-aggressive is being resolved.  That and this rant which sadly, makes me feel a lot better about it all.

Anyhow… centre… back to the happy place… and go.

We decided to stop at Baba Bakale Sahib between Amritsar and Ludhiana at (drum roll here) Bakala.  This is another historical gurdwara.  When our eighth Guru, Guru Harkrishan was dying in Delhi of smallpox, he did not directly name his successor.  Instead he said “Baba Bakale” which means that the Guru would be found at Bakale.  Unfortunately, 22 impostors quickly set up shop in Bakale and each claimed to be the next Guru of the Sikhs.

The story goes that a merchant was facing a storm at sea which threatened him, cargo, ship and crew.  He prayed to God for safety an promised that he would pay the Guru 500 gold coins if he survived the storm.  He survived and travelled to Bakala to make good on his promise.  However, he was met by 22 people claiming to be Guru.  He went to each one and offered 2 gold coins, which was accepted by each of them.

The merchant asked whether there was any other person in Bakala who might be the Guru and he was told about Tegh Bahadur, who had separated himself from the mayhem and concentrated on mediation and prayer.  The merchant was permitted to see him and laid 2 gold coins before him.  Guruji said “You promised 500 gold coins”.  The merchant ran to the rooftops to shout “I have found the Guru.”.  Guru Tegh Bahadur was made the 9th Guru of the Sikhs in the traditional ceremony and soon after the imposters left Bakala.

So that’s the story of Baba Bakale Sahib.  Also on the way between Amritsar and Ludhiana is the massive statute of Vishnu you see on the left.  It can be seen from quite some distance away.

Once in Ludhiana, we picked up little sister’s cousin and went to the Rose Garden, the University of Ludhiana, the Clock Tower and the market around the Clock Tower.  Oh my… there’s another rant coming there… stay tuned.

The Rose Garden is a smaller version of the one in nearby Chandigarh.  Much smaller but a pleasant little park.  This park has a lot of fountains… beautiful, beautiful fountains but no water in them.  I’m told it’s a seasonal thing and that there will be water during the monsoon season.  Well, no doubt but by the looks of the spouts and pumps… the fountains won’t be on and working during the monsoon season … and it’s pouring rain so why would you start up a fountain at that time?  Oh well, to each his own and still very cool.

Like Lodhi Gardens in Delhi, there were couples here who were showing a very high degree of PDA.  One couple was only one base away from full on intercourse on a park bench.  I was told “these are not our people.  These are those people.”  Ummm… this will be part of the Clock Tower rant later on so I won’t bore you with it twice but WHAT THE FRACK?!?  Nothing will cause me to lose all respect for a person quicker than racism.  Those of you who know me, know it’s my button.  Yeap… it should just be marked in red and yellow stripes and pinned to my forehead like the Staples “That Was Easy” button.  It’s that noticeable and that easy to push.

We were gone for six nights in total.  For six nights, the host unit missed her serials on the Colours Channel.  Oh the humanity!  It may be the same for all people, all over the world, who are addicted to soap operas… you just can’t be away from them for six whole days!  Children grow up in that time and go off to school!  People are kidnapped and ransomed and returned only to be kidnapped again in six days!  How will I know if they are the real characters or evil twins or clones?  In six days, TOO MUCH CAN HAPPEN!!!

 Let me tell you what happens in these serials (as the host unit calls them, soap operas as they are called in the West), from what I can tell so far:

  • Every woman in the soap must cry at least once during each episode, preferably uber-dramatic crying.

  • Someone will have been kidnapped and is being held by a very bad group of people.  But don’t worry because they will have a cell phone to call the person whose turn it is to cry dramatically.
  • Every character except the kidnapped character and the bad group of people must appear in every scene, preferably in the same room together.
  • There will be 10 seconds of dialogue in that room usually from the cryer.  Then the camera MUST pan to each and every other character to capture the STARE.  Now it can be a stunned stare, a surprised stare, an angry stare, a pensive stare or a “there’s nothing going on in my brain” stare, but all of the other characters must have a STARE going on.  Panning to all of them takes up 30 seconds for every 10 seconds of dialogue.  Then … cut to commercial.
  • The commercials must take up 50% of the episode’s allotted time.  The “Previously On” must take up 10% and the “Next On” must take up 15%, leaving 25% for dialogue, leaving a total amount of dialogue at 1.5 minutes to 6 minutes of stare panning.
  • Parents treat children like they are 45 years old on soaps here, that’s because they grow up from birth to adulthood in one season.

  • No one eats, smokes, pees or plays outside in the soaps, it would ruin their perfectly groomed clothing.  When you’ve been captive in a cell for 6 days, you need to emerge perfectly groomed.
  • The only way you are permitted to mess with your perfectly groomed look is if you are female and it is your turn to be the dramatic cryer.  At that time, and that time only, you may muss your mascara a little bit.  A very little bit. 
  • If you are the male hero, you must change tires, be shot, be stabbed or comfort the crier without getting a single bit of dust or dirt on you.  That’s pretty much your role in the soaps – changing tires, being shot, being stabbed or comforting the crier.  You have no other functions that I can see and given that there’s only 1.5 minutes of dialogue and we have to fit in ALL THAT CRYING, well you’re not going to say much either.

So that’s what I have gleaned from these soaps so far.  They aren’t much different that the soaps my monster (errr… mother) was addicted to when I was growing up.  Remember?  All of Mack and Rachel’s children grew up in the 3 years it took Rachel to have her affair with Mitch…  Just a little more dialogue in the western type soaps.

So here’s what she missed in six days for each of the three “serials” she watches:

  • 9 minutes of dialogue, including 7.5 minutes of dramatic crying
  • 36 minutes of staring
  • someone got kidnapped but they had their cell phone and arranged their rescue and/or ransom
  • 1.5 hours of commercials
  • everyone stayed clean and are wearing the same outfits
  • No one smoked, kissed, peed, ate, or had any form of sexual contact of any kind.
  • No one varied the stares they spent years perfecting.  Except one guy and he was fired from the soap after that so…

I’m betting she can catch up quite easily.  Anyhow, these things are very dramatic for the host unit.  She gets so involved in them!  She doesn’t understand that they are actually comedies.  I laugh and I laugh and I laugh and then I go do something completely different so that I don’t end up disturbing her soap watching too much with my gales of laughter.  My own mother used to get upset with me when I laughed at her soaps too.  So did my mother-in-law would I would laugh during Vietnamese soaps… er, serials.  I think that believing they are actual dramas and not meant to be funny is pretty universal.

The last picture in this set is for the Sutton family.  Sutton house is the name of the Vice-Chancellor’s residence at the University of Ludhiana, which we will visit next post.

Until next time all when we’ll see the rest of what there is to see in Ludhiana (not much, sorry), we’ll have a couple of rants and we’ll talk about how to deal with unplanned/uninvited guests.

Peace and love
– Himmatpreet

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