It's not the miles but the distance in culture, population, climate, and, most importantly, law and its enforcement, that sets apart Punjab from Mumbai. Last December, I was in the film capital, covering an awards ceremony for a media entertainment group that also runs one of the oldest private news channels in the country.
Different weather is what I had expected but the respect for law was a surprise to discover.
The grandiose set in a stadium included helicopter camera and cranes designed to lift artistes on to the stage. The organisers had spared no expense. Many Bollywood starts were part of the show.
In spite of the spectacle in the middle of a residential location, the rooftops and a few windows facing the location, vantage points from where one could enjoy the entire show without paying, were bare. Yes, star nites are common in those parts, but how come not even a soul was interested?
A stark contrast is Ludhiana, where people will climb on to the highest roofs and crane their necks out of the smallest windows for a small glimpse of even a marriage procession going through the street. The second difference being the seriousness of the local police in enforcing the public-event rules.
When the show was at its peak, all speakers went off. The audience stared at each other quizzically. Meanwhile, I observed that police were on the scene. Most of the audience thought they were a minor disruption and the next sequence would be on any minute. The cops wouldn't budge.
I checked my wristwatch and noted that it was past the 10pm deadline to turn off the noise, and the police were there to shut the loudspeakers as their duty to carry out the Supreme Court orders on the 10-to-6 silent hours for raucous entertainment.
The organisers were running around harassed, requesting the cops for more time, as some of the programme segments were pending. Adamant, the officers told them the rules were strict. The show went on but without the use of loudspeakers, with only connected cameras able to catch any sound.
In Punjab, I have attended late-night weddings, some held in parks in residential localities and the others in roadside tents, where people dance all night to loud music and no cop turns up to shut the noise.
At a lavish wedding on the Ferozepur road last week, I saw two police officers arrive to do the duty but leave after treating themselves to snacks and booze.
Are Mumbai and Ludhiana different worlds and different countries with separate rules, or is it that the law means nothing to us in Punjab?