Punjabi by nature: From hoof power to horse power
Last week, my father and I were driving from Chandigarh to Kasauli when our conversation, from politics, meandered to the changing times.
I was of the view, that the Gen Next is more accepting about gender, race and class equality than mine, and especially my father's.
Even though they remain glued to the Internet and their smartphones, I find them to be much more sober and less loud than my generation.
The topic struck a chord with him and he started reflecting on his growing up days and sharing anecdotes from that era.
As per him, his generation is the fortunate one (he is 67) to witness two extreme times and see times change.
My father then started sharing tales of the days gone by and narrated various incidents of how the village life was in his growing up days at Chhauni in Hoshiarpur district.
According to him, the family owned a few hundred acres of land (before the land reforms) and the only way to plough it was with oxen.
The family had many oxen for the purpose, however, there was one ox that was special. It was the one that was used to pump out water from the nearby well.
It was on call 24x7 and would be marched to the well, the moment my father's grandmother would make a call 'paani muk gaya' (water has finished).
This ox hated his job and would start making a blaring sound like a pressure horn in protest. “Sara din ehi tamasha chalda si (the entire day this drama happened),” he laughed as he remembered the blaring ox.
Oxen were soon replaced by a single tractor. “Now instead of Ox power we had Horse Power after bapuji (my grandfather) bought a John Deere.”
It was a miracle machine and villagers would keep gazing at it all day, mesmerised by its power to till acres and acres of land.
My father's conversation soon veered into the superstitions and customs of those times. According to him, there was this constant gossip of paranormal activity on the farm.
Stories of chaledas and chaledis (male and female ghosts) roaming around in the farm were part of common folklore of the village.
No one would venture out in the evening for fear of them. For years, there was this scare of Badani' s spirit haunting someone or the other.
Badani was a girl who had died at a tender age. No day would pass when someone wouldn't complain about Badani chasing them. Some would see her dressed in white clothes, while others thought she walked on her hands.
Enter Rameshar Babu from Uttar Pradesh. He was employed as a ‘syce’ and looked after the horses and maintained the ‘tonga’, said my father.
“But he soon became the local ghost-chaser and villagers would flock to him to rid themselves of evil spirits. He was also a great storyteller and we would keep listening to his ghost stories. His favourite was the 'ride with the goras.'
Bapuji had deputed him as a night watchman at a groundnut farm close to the goriyaan di kabraan. “Raat ko gora sahib aye aur humara manji utha key hume ghumane le gaye,” would be his story every morning.
A laugh followed and dad recalled why a section of the village protested against having a metalled road? It was the village Rajputs who were against it because they feared that if their cattle went missing the metal road will make it impossible for them to track them since there will be no pug marks.
Talking about the economic condition of the villagers, he said it was only now that one has started seeing motorcycles and cars speeding up and down the narrow village lanes.
In the early days, villagers used to walk barefoot to their destinations. They would carry their shoes on a stick and slip into them only once they were close to their destination. It's our generation that has seen both the times.
Soon our topic curvets to politics again. “Modi shaukeen lagda hai. Shaukeen bandey hi tarakki di soch sakdey ne, khachar nahi.”
We reach Kasauli and the cool breeze makes us forget the 45 degrees Celsius of the plains. “No intelligent man of that time asked for a Punjabi Suba,” he says, with a lament in his tone. We soon headed for the bar.
Chandigarh Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for a synthetic running track at Sukhna Lake. UT adviser Dharam Pal, said, “The Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee had earlier given its go-ahead for the proposal. Next, the detailed plan and cost estimates will be prepared; and then, tenders will be floated for the project.” A UT official said the proposed track is part of the administration's efforts to give Sukhna Lake a major facelift.
The National Highway Authority of India has approved two over-bridges, which are likely to reduce travel time between Kalka and Zirakpur and alleviate traffic jams on the stretch by next year. NHAI has already floated tenders for the 60-m wide over-bridges, which will be constructed at a cost of ₹50 crore. It has invited bids for the “construction and site improvement of the four-lane national highway (NH-22) on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo junction.”
Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. The bus, which was ferrying students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, Panchkula, was making way for another school bus when it skidded into the overflowing drain. The bus tilted in the drain, but passersby and parents were able to rescue the children through the driver's window.
Tricity residents woke up to heavy rainfall for the second time this month on Wednesday. Three people went missing after a taxi, shuttling two commuters, was swept away in a flashflood in the Patiala-Ki-Rao rivulet as the driver attempted to cross the causeway in Tanda Village near Nayagaon. The owner of the vehicle, Rakesh Kumar told the police that Gaurav had called him saying two people, travelling to Baddi, had booked his cab.
Chandigarh received 97mm rainfall between 6am and 8.30am, the heaviest rain in July since 2017, as per the India Meteorological Department. It received another 0.9mm of rainfall during the day. The maximum precipitation till 8.30am was recorded at the Sector 39 observatory (97mm), 49.2mm rain was recorded at the airport observatory, 77.5mm rain in Panchkula and 74.5 mm rain in Mohali.