PBD Among Many Observations Before My Trip To India

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By Balwant Sanghera
LINK COLUMNIST
Well, another new year hasjust begun. With it come theParvasi Bhartiya Divas in NewDelhi and the Parvasi Divas(NRI Sammelan) for PunjabiNRIs in the Punjab. Both ofthese events scheduled at thebeginning of the New Year indicatethat the governmentsof India and Punjab recognizeand appreciate the importanceof NRIs in the overall schemeof things. Both of these eventswere attended by NRIs in largenumbers from various countries.As usual, NRIs fromcountries like Canada, U.S.A,U.K., Australia and New Zealandseem to have a fairly highprofile at these get –togethers.If nothing else, these meetingskeep the issues facing NRIsup front. At the same time, itstrengthens the bonds of NRIsto the country of their origin.In this regard, the national andprovincial governments mustbe commended for putting onthese conferences.In addition to the NewYear resolutions and relatedfestivities, it is time for manyto visit their homeland. As amatter of fact, the exodus ofIndo-Canadians to India startsin October and continues wellinto the New Year. For some,especially senior citizens, it islike an annual pilgrimage to visittheir ancestral villages and relativesin Punjab as well as otherparts of India. A visit to India isalways fascinating. So much haschanged yet a lot stays the same. Due to cheap air fares andfrequency of services, a largenumber of Indo-Canadians nowprefer to travel to New Delhi viaBeijing, Shanghai, Taipei, HongKong or Guangdzu. As a matterof fact, some of these flightshave almost 80% of their passengersof Indian heritage, specificallyPunjabis. A lot of themare senior citizens.Keeping this inmind, Punjabi Language EducationAssociation (PLEA) hasrequested airlines serving theseroutes to have at least one or twoPunjabi speaking persons as partof their cabin crew. Also, PLEAhas requested these airlines tomake Punjabi newspapers, magazinesand movies to their Punjabipassengers on these flights. Thiswould make these flights moreconvenient and enjoyable formost of their passengers travellingto India. In this context, onbehalf of PLEA, I would liketo urge our travel agents as wellas travellers to ask for these servicesin Punjabi. Hopefully, themanagements of these airlineswill be willing to accommodatethem. Also, it would certainlyhelp if the Indo-Canadian mediaalso takes this issue up. At a personallevel, my wife and I will beon our way to India soon. Goingvia Beijing(China) will again bequite an experience.China’s capitalcity (Beijing) has undergone profoundchanges over the years. In2009, my family and I had theopportunity to visit Beijing onour way to New Delhi. It wasjust after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.The city looked very cleanand bright. There was no smogand very little pollution. It was avery enjoyable experience to visitplaces like the Olympic Park-theCube, the Bird’s Nest and manyother Olympic sites. Walking inthe Tiananmen Square was a delight.The city is worth visitingand has a lot to offer to the visitor.This time, due to schedulingproblems, we will be simplypassing through the Beijing Internationalairport on our way toNew Delhi.New Delhi isalso very different from what itwas a few years ago. It is a muchcleaner city now. The Metro hasmade a big difference. Also, theNew Delhi International Airportis considered to be one ofthe best airports in the world.The roads are reported to bemuch better now. Travellingfrom New Delhi to Punjab hasalso become a lot more efficientand convenient. The dhabason both sides of the NationalHighway are still a great attractionfor NRIsOnce home, the weddingsin the family will be on top ofthe agenda. Soon after arrivingin my home town Pharwala(near Nurmahal/Bilga) in JalandharDistrict, we will be busywith the weddings at least forthe first couple of weeks. Then,it will be time to visit some ofthe Gurdwaras as well as historicalplaces. Last time, the electionsfor five or six provinciallegislatures, including Punjab,were the major headlines. It wasinteresting to see the politicalposturing and dynamics. Thistime, it will be the campaignsfor the upcoming elections toLok Sabha. Already, ArvindKejriwal and his Aam AadmiParty (AAP) have caused quitea buzz all across India. The wayKejriwal and AAP have decidedto tackle the issues of corruptionand VIP culture may bringabout a major mental shift inthe political landscape of India.Despite all of its problems,India continues to be one of themost popular countries to visit.For NRIs it has special appeal.There is so much history. To itscredit, the government has donea good job in preserving andpromoting the historical monuments.It is always a pleasure tovisit them again and again. Avisitor never gets tired of visitingthese places that bring historyback to life. I hope to visitsome of them again. Whenever,I will get some free time and accessto a computer I will try tosend my report to Paul Dhillonfor you, The Link readers. I amlooking forward to a pleasantand enjoyable visit to India forthe next few weeks.Balwant Sanghera is a retiredSchool Psychologist andCommunity Activist.