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Keeping humour alive in time of corona alarm, the Punjabi way

Not surprisingly, the coronavirus anxiety has now been weaved into a Punjabi boli (two-line lyric) to which bhangra is performed with joie de vivre.
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Nirupama Dutt, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 14, 2020 10:09 PM IST

Known for keeping pace with the latest trends, innovative Punjabis do not shy away from incorporating things like a visit to a mall or a ride in a Lamborghini car in their songs.

Not surprisingly, the coronavirus anxiety has now been weaved into a Punjabi boli (two-line lyric) to which bhangra is performed with joie de vivre.

The two-liner that has gone viral features in the ‘bara barsi’ boli wherein the man of the house goes out for 12 years to earn for his family. Upon his return, he tells his wife: “Bara barsi khattan gaya si khatt ke liyaea jhona/Pare hatt ke khang soniye, kitte kara na dayin corona (went out to earn for 12 years and came back with paddy/Cough from a distance my beautiful beloved, or we will get infected by corona).

A social media user taunts as why only schools and colleges have been closed. “Are office-goers bathed in milk that they will be safe?” he questions.

Not just Punjabi songs but the dreaded virus has infiltrated the world of tweaked Urdu verses of none other than celebrated poet Mirza Ghalib. ‘Barhi tanha si beparvah si guzar rahi thhi Ghalib, Ab yeh alam hai ki ek chhink aa jaaye to duniya gaur se dekhti hai’ (Life was going on in solitude without care/But now a single sneeze to attracts attention).

Then, there is: ‘Samajh nahi aa raha hai nagarikta bachayein, khaata bachayein ya jaan bachayein?’ (One knows not whether to save one’s citizenship, bank account or one’s own life?).

One of the most famous Bollywood dialogues from the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Deewar’ has been twisted to suit the times. When Amitabh, the don, taunts his younger brother over his less-than-lavish life, Shashi Kapoor is seen replying ‘hand sanitiser’ instead of ‘mere paas maa hai!’

Another good one is: “The guy who invented hand sanitiser must be rubbing his hands together right now!”

One of the users points to Prince Charles of Britain greeting with ‘namaste’ at a public function instead of shaking hand. “What India could not teach the British in 200 years (of colonial rule), the corona fear has achieved in a day,” writes one.

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