The Best Part of India? The People

Good morning everyone,
Well, I’ve been back in my second home in Canada for more than a month.  A month!  I can’t believe how quickly time moves here.  I had another six weeks before returning to work (just a week from now)… so I started a couple of projects as you might have figured out – recording the recipes for all that delicious Indian food and turning my copy of The New Basics Cookbook into a host of vaishno friendly, fusion recipes that I can use in my new life.  There were a lot of great things about India.  I’ll be back again and soon, given that my family is there but even if I didn’t have family, I would be returning.  India is life changing and amazing.Kashmir – beautiful, rugged, reminding me of home but with mountains on steroids.  Despite the car troubles, the massive numbers of soldiers, the sleazy guy in one of the gardens and the other dangers, I am so in love with Kashmir.  There is no other place like it.  The food, the people, the very similar to Canada climate (thanks Himalayas), the jaw-dropping beauty all around with a touch of adrenalin to feed my adventurer’s soul – no place has been more perfect.

Darbar Sahib – I spent a lot of time in Darbar Sahib or the Golden Temple as it is otherwise known in English.  As a Sikh, it was inspiring, peaceful and one of the most amazing temples I have ever been in.  Working in the langar, preparing food and washing dishes, was more than labour – it was service to other people and it was service to God.  I never felt more included, more part of a community, more peaceful in my life than sitting in the food prep area peeling the skins off of garlic or preparing chillies.  I never felt more companionship with others, complete strangers, than standing next to other community members, loading dishes into vats to be cleaned or being elbow deep in warm, soapy water.  They weren’t strangers to me then.  We were united in our work, co-operating in all the tasks required to feed up to 100,000 people a day.  United in our good humour and the peace that settled about us in this holy place.  Amazing and I cannot wait to be there again.

Amrit – I took amrit, the Sikh baptism, at the Akal Takht in Darbar Sahib in December.  My vows mean a lot of things have changed on the surface – there is no more eating of meat, no more egg, no more alcohol.  I wear a kirpan all the time now and I have new kara on my arms, kara that my little sister unit and I chose for one another.  Those surface changes are just the beginning though.  I am part of the Khalsa Panth now, part of the Sikh army and that comes with a lot of responsibility.  I feel closer to Waheguru, calmer and more peaceful but also I feel more responsible to Waheguru and with that, more responsible than ever to the other living beings that share this tiny planet with me.  I have new purpose and I’m more motivated to live a purposeful, useful life in service.

But the best part of India, and I think this is probably true of all places, were the people that I met there.  People who will always have a special place in my heart and some who have become part of my family, my brothers and sisters.

Gurmit Kaur gets first mention here.  She was my host unit and though we did not always get along, she was wonderful to host the adventure of my lifetime.  She taught her way to cook some of the basics of Panjabi cuisine and she and I learned English and Panjabi together with the help of our own special form of sign language much of the time.  We are just very different personalities with different values and beliefs but I’ll be ever grateful to her for hosting me.

Ramneet Kaur, the little sister unit.  Amazing.  Absolutely beautiful.  Bright.  Energetic.  Curious about life but also shy and ready to laugh.  I love this girl, love her with all my heart.  I totally would have packed her in my luggage if that was a possibility.  Ramneeet also has some incredible translation skills.  At just fifteen, she has such an amazing future in front of her.

Jagdeep Singh, who I’ve talked about in so many posts – my driver and my hero.  What a fun, relaxed, responsible and reliable guy.  I would take a road trip alone with him anywhere on this planet.  Anywhere.

Prithipal Singh, my best friend and my dear brother.  He didn’t make it.  We planned to meet in India, at his mother Gurmit’s home but he didn’t make it.  Paperwork that he needed just didn’t come in a reasonable time.  Though my best friend was 14000 km away while I had my adventure in India, his hand was in everything – arranging Internet access, arranging for friends and family to show me around (and keep me safe), arranging for a variety of adventures that I would never have found myself as a simple tourist and translating when the sign language that Gurmit and I developed just wasn’t quite enough.  14000 km away and my bestie made sure I felt completely at home, safe and confident.  Now you all know why this guy is the best friend in the world to me.  I’m blessed and so lucky that he is a part of my life, despite the fact that he didn’t make it to India to take part in the adventure with me.

Anoop Singh, my funny, amazing, devout and dedicated brother.  I can’t say enough about this guy.  He helped set up phones, a stay at Darbar Sahib, Internet… but mostly he taught me the value of patience and the meaning of duty and how that duty is so much lighter when it comes with a genuine and loving bond with others.  He’s an amazing father and husband and the guy just never, ever stops working.  He’s committed to his principles and values but instead of making him rigid, his commitment makes him caring, responsible and incredible.  I am so inspired by him every single day.

The Randhawa family – Bhai Anoop Ji comes with a wonderful family.  His mother, who doesn’t speak English at all was so welcoming !!  I just adore her.  If I have half the grace, patience and devotion that she does, then I will be so blessed.  His wife, Sandeep, who I’ve never seen without a smile on her face is such a loving wife and mother along with being a bright and hard working MBA student, with a seemingly endless amount of energy and patience.  Amazing.  And little Pahulpreet, my nephew, a happy, happy baby who just might be the most adorable little boy that was ever born.  It’s like he knows how blessed he is to have been born into the Randhawa family.  Awesome.

I loved my time in India and it really doesn’t have a lot to do with the massive amount of history that comes with a place like India, the spirituality or the vibrant colour and endless festivals.  It has everything to do with the people.  These people have grabbed up lots of real estate in my heart.

Until next time,
Peace & love,
Himmatpreet

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