What’s in a gehri?
The residents of every city have a favourite activity. Now, while Punjab is known for its affinity with food, there is another activity that the Punjabis, especially Chandigarhians, are proud of — flaunting their new dresses, phones, chic swagger and swanky cars on the roads.brunch Updated: Dec 01, 2013 22:10 IST
The residents of every city have a favourite activity. Now, while Punjab is known for its affinity with food, there is another activity that the Punjabis, especially Chandigarhians, are proud of — flaunting their new dresses, phones, chic swagger and swanky cars on the roads. No, we’re not talking about a ramp walk on the roads of Chandigarh, silly. We’re talking about the evergreen gehri route.
‘Glide, stop, stare’ seems to be the highlight of almost every youngster’s day in Chandigarh. And, such has been the case for decades. HT City speaks to some ‘veterans’ of the gehri route to map out the characteristics of the gehri of yore.
Such is the love for gehris that one route simply isn’t enough. If you thought the Sectors 8-9-10-11-to-PU route is the only gehri that youngsters are interested in, try roaming about the MCM-DAV road in Sector 36, the ‘mini-gehri route’. Yajan Kashyap, a senior Chandigarh-based journalist and Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana’s father-in-law, says, “I used to drive the Lambretta scooter way back in 1978 on the main gehri route.
Those days, it was not the place to find all the swanky cars of Chandigarh. You could spot only scooters, or at the most, an Ambassador car. The route got its popular name only in the late ’80s. I used to go from Sector 9 to 10 and then 11, and drive down to the English department of Panjab University. Our flaunt-worthy fashion used to consist of Levi’s jeans, caps and bell-bottoms.
Mostly, it used to be about the hairstyles. Flaunting your hair was easier those days, since helmets weren’t compulsory.” Ask him what was the best part about his gehri and he says, “I met my better half in PU during one of these gehris.
I got to marry the girl of my dreams!” Savita Sharma, 56, a housewife from Panchkula, did her graduation from GCG (now Post Graduate Government College for Girls), Sector 11, Chandigarh. Recalling her days of youth on the gehri route, she tells us, “It was just about having fun with friends. We would dress up nicely and go to Sector 17, crossing that route on the rickshaw everyday after classes.
Needless to say, we did have some followers. But, no one ever passed lewd remarks. Girls those days went crazy about ‘Bobby’ hairpins and buns. Many of my friends also got their haircut like yesteryears’actress Parveen Babi’s. I have to confess, I fell prey to it too!”
Times might have changed, but the essence of the gehri route remains the same. Even today, lovebirds are spotted doing the rounds of Leisure Valley, Sector 10, after classes are over.
What’s different now is the fanfare on the roads during the evenings, and, how could we forget the ‘confession’ pages on Facebook? All you have to do is note the number of the vehicle and drop a message for the one you like on the social networking website!
Jaspreet Singh, 28, an MNC professional at IT Park, says, “It’s not just about young boys and girls anymore; even families visit the gehri route on special occasions such as the Valentine’s Day or Holi. It is so because couples have had special memories attached to this road since decades. They come to relive those very often.”
Supreet Singh, 30, a freelance graphic designer from Chandigarh, prefers to visit the gehri route on weekends with his wife. For them, it’s the “hub” for meeting new people in the city. “All the new people we meet there, we end up having something in common with them; and thus, we connect.”
While for some it is just about flaunting high-end wheels — the likes of Bentley, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Harley Davidson, spotted easily on the gehri route at any given day — for others, it is about pure relaxation. After all, tricity residents’ love for gehri is eternal.