Stories about Punjabi

Hello Ramazan, hello Dahi Bhallay!

Sweltering summers and food-less Ramazans are a rather challenging, patience-testing combination. But not once does it falter the resolve of a believer when it comes to fasting. For people who fast, away from home and, in non-Muslim countries, things are even tougher. The work hours don’t change, meaning even when your energy levels are dwindling and your eyes are droopy due to sleep deprivation, you still need to keep on marching. This also means that the expatriate families hardly have time to prepare the elaborate iftar, which we are accustomed to in Pakistan or any other Muslim country. I personally enjoy a ...

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Noor of Bihar

“Babu jee, India is so enormous. Mumbai, Agra, Delhi and Bihar are unfathomable in size. Either you take one step or accomplish a hundred, it will take 10 years to traverse from one end of the country to another,” she assured me in her mellifluous Bihari tone. As the fan overhead continued its eternal hymn, Nani (maternal grandmother) shouted in distaste, “Huh, you have seen India, my foot! Woman of no worth,” she shouted out, as mother and I looked at each other, exchanging mental notes on how to manage Nani’s incorrigible distrust of domestic helpers. Nani suffered from a cancerous tumour ...

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Am I a ‘ganwaar’ if I speak in Punjabi?

Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting children from different parts of Punjab. They ranged in age between three and five years and included children of my friends and extended family. I was pleasantly surprised to hear these kids speaking in Punjabi. Some of the phrases that I recall hearing them use are, “Kithay chalay o?” (Where are you off to?) “Aa ki aey?” (What is this?) “Ki karde paye o?” (What are you doing?) Punjabi is the most widely spoken language across Pakistan. However, from what I have seen, most of the people in Punjab – especially those living in the urban centres – do ...

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In the mood for some ‘disco chai’? Here is how the dhaba’s in Karachi do it!

Dhaba – a roadside restaurant of sorts – originates from the Indian Punjabi culture. It typically consists of a structure made from mud and wooden planks with charpais and the occasional hookah strewn around.  A dhaba’s tea is always adored among the local Pakistanis. PHOTO: MAANSAL STUDIOS/ FILE Desi food and ethnic props give these rickety restaurants their rustic environment. Dhabas are a reminder of a simple way of life that has been lost in the mundane affairs of our materialistic society. The dhaba culture has been prevalent throughout Pakistan, particularly in Karachi. And I have seen a shift in the function and status of dhabas from being an ...

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I am Pakistani, whether I speak Urdu or Punjabi

We are not a sitar with a single string, and our music takes more than one chord to make. We are a convergence of languages and cultures, all of which are simply too lustrous to be overshadowed by any single one. Yet Urdu is not considered a language; it is an apparatus used to measure patriotism. It is a test that is used to verify one’s allegiance to our green and white flag. Isn’t this an awkward status to have bestowed upon Urdu, considering hardly eight percent of Pakistanis speak it as their mother tongue? On the other hand, Punjabi happens to be the first language ...

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Why do the Karachiite-type men fall for Punjabi women?

I begin with the disclaimer that this blog is not for three kinds of people: 1. Those who have an issue with the sweeping generalisations I am about to make in the spirit of fun, though parts will be definitely based on truth and years of research-based observation. 2. Ladies who are non-Punjabi and take the title as a jibe against themselves, and say to themselves “what does she mean? Don’t men like non-Punjabi women? She doesn’t know what she’s talking about! I know my husband would never be able to do with a Punjabi woman… they’re so loud!” 3. Punjabi women ...

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Homesick: I miss home, I miss Pakistan

I knew I was going to miss Pakistan; I had a feeling I’d crave the food, yearn for cricket, mope after the people and just generally be homesick after spending some time abroad. Coming to the US for college was, however, my personal choice and being here has been nothing short of amazing. The homesickness kicked in, but it is very different from what I thought it would be. It is hard to explain the ways in which I miss Pakistan. I miss the daily drive to and from school and the topsy-turvy hills I would stare at along the ...

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Noor Jehan: Gone but never forgotten

Today, 85 years ago, a very special girl was born in district Kasur, Punjab. Had fate been kinder to us, she would have still been with us today. Madam Noor Jehan may have left the world but her legacy will forever live on, emblazoned in the minds of her fans as her evergreen songs. Noor Jehan has a special place in my heart. This is not just because I am a fan of her beautiful voice and enviable poise, but also because she belongs to Kasur, where my grandparents were from. In fact, I have been told that my granduncle ...

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An open letter to Nawaz Sharif

My dear Mian sahib, Once, when George Bush was sitting in his plush chair with lights illuminating every nook and cranny of the White House, he asked Musharraf – yes the one who dethroned you when your delusional state of mind made you believe that you were the next Khalifa of the Ummah (Muslim nation) – a question very similar to the one I have for you today. “Whose side are you on?” “Your side, Mr President,” replied Musharraf, loud and clear without giving it a second thought. I am no George Bush and unlike him, my house is in doom and gloom ...

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I speak Punjabi (but my kids might not)

‘Ik Sutti Uthi Dooji Akhon Ka’ani ’- Do you understand what this Punjabi idiom means, or do you need a translation in English first? The literal translation may be “one just woke up and the other one is partially sighted!” but that isn’t what it means.  This funny phrase refers to a person who has just woken up and then on top of their disheveled appearance is cross-eyed as well. It is used “icing on the cake” in English. Most people wonder why everything in Punjabi sounds so comic? Maybe our ancestors just appreciated humour. If you belong to a Punjabi speaking family and couldn’t ...

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