Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
69Trip End Apr 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
We got to Amritsar and were quite hungry so we decided to go out for one of the specialty foods of Amritsar…BRAIN! Goat Brain to be exact. The Brain comes in a curry with naan bread on the side. Overall the brain was okay but the curry around it was fabulous, the curry was nice and spicy. The brain was actually a little bit too mushy for my liking (Mandip didn’t have any as she was still nauseous from being sick). Later in the day, Mandip wouldn’t even share her bottle of water with me as she commented 'I can’t share my water with you because you had brain’.
Later that afternoon we made the one hour drive to the India and Pakistan border where every evening they have a closing ceremony on both sides of the border and each countries flags are brought down and folded up for the evening. They have setup bleachers on either side of the border for each countries citizens to come and ‘cheer’ on their respective countries. On the Indian side is the city of Amritsar while the Pakistani side is the city of Lahore. We were lucky my mom’s friend was able to pull some strings and get us V.I.P. entrance as when we arrived it was pure madness. A mile from the border they had setup gates and there was a line-up at least another mile long. When the gate opened people started to sprint the mile to the border to get themselves a good seat for the show. We were lucky we were able to just walk the mile to the border and get to our section which had plenty of seats while the other sections were overflowing with eager fans! The seats were setup in front of the road that cars normally drive across the border and they shut down the border every day for this ceremony.
The scene was very patriotic when we took to our seats. With citizens carrying large Indian flags up and down on the road in front of us and fans in the stands waving smaller flags. All of a sudden they turned on some Bhangra music and crazed Punjabi’s came out of the crowd and started dancing on the road in front of us
That night we went to the area where Aman’s mom’s old house used to be (Mandip stayed in as she was still not feeling well). Aman’s maternal grandfather had owned an ice factory and cold storage right next to the house and the house and factory covered almost an entire block. The property has since been sold and now there are commercial shops in its place, however my mom could tell that where her room used to be, it’s now a Japanese Restaurant. Our late grandfather had once been one of the biggest businessmen in Amritsar. At one time he owned a convertible Chevrolet, and had the only convertible in all of Amritsar so when the prime minister at the time, Jawahar Lal Nehru, came to visit they asked to borrow the car to drive around the Prime Minister. He also owned multiple cinema’s in Amritsar and at one time built the first centrally heated and air conditioned cinema in ALL of India (believe it or not in the winter it does get quite cold in India)
Being a part of this successful family our Mom had many perks which to us are unimaginable. You must remember that in India wealthier families have hired help around the house. So during the school year each and every day at lunch time she had somebody hand deliver a hot lunch to her at school and after school she would have one of two things happen:
1) Somebody would walk to her school and wait for her outside and when she came out they would walk her home and hold all her books in their hand OR
2) A HORSE AND CARRIAGE (I’m not kidding) would wait for her outside and she would get driven home in a horse and carriage
Aman’s mom lived a very sheltered life and she wasn’t even allowed to ride a bicycle. At lunch time she would defy her parents by taking her friends bikes for a ride outside the schoolyard. We’re sure parents today would welcome their kids only defying them by riding a bike! Living such a sheltered life when she was younger we’re thoroughly impressed and proud of her that she came to Canada after marriage and became a full time mother and held a full time job, as I’m sure the transition from her childhood to adulthood after marriage was difficult seeing as how different both parts of life must have been
It was 1:00am by this time and we decided to continue the night and head over to the Golden Temple to see it lit up at night. Mom had been born and raised in Amritsar but had actually never seen the Golden Temple at night so there was no time like the present. We parked and walked toward the Golden Temple and as we walked in you could just feel the serenity of the area. It was quiet and the actual Temple looked beautiful all lit up. There were still A LOT of people either praying, walking around, and there were tons of people even sleeping so that they could experience the serenity throughout the night and wake up bright and early to be one of the first to enter the Temple for the day. A long line-up had already formed outside the front entrance to the Temple as each night the inside is washed with water and milk and the line-up was volunteers who wanted to perform this task on this night. Even more volunteers were already busy rolling up all the carpets around the perimeter of the Temple so that all the floors could be washed and dried before the morning crowd arrived. It was quite amazing to watch the dedication of all these people volunteering their time at 1 in the morning. Around 2am we decided it had been a long day and wanted to call it a night.
Aman’s Mom and Dad came from two completely different walks of life, one from a completely rural and remote village and one from the city. Their families also lived very different lives and I’m sure it was a big adjustment for both of them moving from their comfort zones to Canada. Visiting both their birthplaces and hearing the stories of their childhood straight from them has given us an even greater perspective on our roots and a greater appreciation for all their efforts in giving us the lives we have.