Column | Relishing Sydney at Sher-e-Punjab
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, any hill station or a place of pilgrimage that you visit, it is almost certain to find a Punjabi restaurant with this name. Not just within the country but even outside, wherever there are Punjabis, Sher-e-Punjab is bound to be there.punjab Updated: Jun 18, 2017 15:12 IST
A few kilometers from Sydney, as we reach its Indian dominated suburb, Harris Park, the surroundings change dramatically, acquiring a typical Indian touch. The flashing blue-green lights greet the eyes. Indian families can be seen walking up and down the place.
Harris Park is a hub of Indian eateries. On both sides of the narrow lane there are a number of Indian restaurants and eating joints selling Indian street food. Indians throng the place to get the taste of India, to relish Indian cuisine and to savour anything from ‘samosa’, ‘chaat’, ‘dahi bhalla’ to ‘kulfi with faluda’.
The ambience is so much Indian that one can easily mistake it to be Pandara Road in New Delhi or Lawrence Road in Amritsar. The semblance is limited not just to the Indian food and the presence of Indians in large numbers but also the lax hygiene standards in the area that remind me of my own city back home.
We head towards Sher-e-Punjab restaurant for savoring desi cuisine. Sher-e-Punjab may not be a patented food- chain like KFC or Mc Donald; nevertheless it is quite common to find a Punjabi Dhaba with this generic name.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, any hill station or a place of pilgrimage that you visit, it is almost certain to find a Punjabi restaurant with this name. Not just within the country but even outside, wherever there are Punjabis, Sher-e-Punjab is bound to be there. It is a sheer a delight to relish Mah Makhani, Shahi Paneer with paranthas at Sher-e Punjab, Australia. This is the taste and the aroma that I have been missing ever since I landed in Sydney a fortnight ago.
The environment in the restaurant is typically Punjabi to make me feel at home. It is reassuring to be greeted by a rustic Sardarji at the cash counter .The familiar chatter, the noise and din is truly comforting in a foreign land. Wah! Desi food in desi atmosphere!
To add to the distinct Punjabi touch there are SUVs passing by the lane playing popular Punjabi numbers, I wonder if I am actually in a Sydney suburb and not in Jalandhar or Ludhiana. Elsewhere in Australia the order and discipline on the roads is astounding but here in Harris Park, the Indian dominated suburb of Sydney, the unbridled Punjabi spirit is in full display. Of course, the music being played on moving jeeps is much softer as per Punjab standard but is loud enough to confirm the saying that a Punjabi is a Punjabi wherever he goes, loud and boisterous, difficult to tame.
The fact is you can take a Punjabi out of Punjab but not Punjab out of Punjabis. Balle Balle! Punjabi oye!
(The writer teaches at MCM DAV College, Chandigarh)