Like everyone who has spent his/her childhood and holidays in Punjab, my love for its food and culture dominate everything else. Punjab has only grown fonder with time. The khet (lush fields), sunflowers and the scent…nothing can beat a car journey in this part of the country. It is only fair that we preserve the culture of the state and don’t let its primary identity be overtaken by drugs. We must educate and empower our youth so that they stay on the right track.
I have fond memories of Amritsar, where my cousins reside, and Ludhiana. The warmth and hospitality of Punjab has stayed with me. Even today in Mumbai, the Punjabi in me doesn’t let anyone leave till they have eaten something. The boisterous nature of Punjabis is what brings the humour in our culture. ‘Pammi Aunty’, my Punjabi alter ego, has become a household name because she’s struck a chord with everyone. I hope the humour stays. We would rather be known for our happy, content, large-hearted and diverse culture than a state with youth addicted to drugs or deprived of primary education.
My hope for the new generation is that it conserves the culture before it is too late. The ‘jee aaya nu (welcoming)’ nature is global and everyone loves Punjabis for that. Don’t let it die. The Udta Punjab image was a reality check and we must learn the best from it. We need more drug de-addiction centres. Better educational and infrastructural facilities will help, too.
Quality life in Punjab’s villages will prevent exodus to cities. Farmers’ concerns need to be addressed.
(As told to Aneesha Bedi)