After suffering through the COVID-19 Pandemic, finally it was time again to visit our homeland again after nearly five years. The Turkish Airline proved to be a good choice for our trip with my wife Baldev and some friends. The flight from Vancouver to New Delhi via Istanbul(Turkey) was very pleasant. The stopover in Istanbul gave us time torelax. Istanbul airport is a very big airport with flights to almost every destination around the globe. A few hours of stay there was very relaxing and enjoyable before flying off to New Delhi. We landed at Delhi International Airport early in the morningon February 3.The immigration and customs clearance was quick. Thus, we were on our way to my hometown Pharwala in the Jalandhar District of Punjabearly in the cold February morning.
The traffic in and around Delhi was quite heavy. However, oncewe were out of the city things went more smoothly. Soon, it was time for breakfast at one of the roadside dhabas. The dhabas all around the highway from Delhi to Punjab are very popular especially with the NRIs. They offer good food and a relaxing environment. The paranthas and spicy tea at the dhaba boosted our energy level. After a few more hours on the road, we were at my ancestralvillagePharwala (Jalandhar) around 6 PM. Our relatives were eagerly waiting for us.Along the way, we noticed that things have changed a lot during the past five years.There are lot more vehicles on the roads and highways.One can see vehicles of all makes and brands –old and new. Traffic jams especially in big cities are very common. Everybody seems to be in a big rush. Common courtesy or right of way is unheard of. Anyway, after spending a lot of time on the aeroplanes, airports and road it was great to be home with our loved ones.
One thing I noticed right away, especially in Haryana and Punjab, was the lush green fields of wheat. It was a very pleasant sight. Later on, I had an opportunity to visit a lot of villages and the rural areas and travel from village to village. I addition to the lush green fields of wheat,I was very impressed with the quality of link roads from village to village. Most of these rural roads are infairly good condition. The other big change I noticed was the change of attitude of people towards the environment. There were lot more trees and birds than before. Also, the people seemed to be more careful and concerned about the environment than before. This is a very positive development. Another thingthat was quite apparent even in the rural areas was the huge increase in the number of vehicles including some very expensive imported ones. These vehicles were of all makes and brands. Perhaps it is an indication of the prosperity amongst people.
I spent the first couple of weeks on welcoming and visiting friends and relatives. My family had organized an Akhand Paath Sahib at our local Gurdwara Sahib. This made it possible for all of our relatives, friends and villagers to meet and greet us. The weather was fairly cool. For example, the temperature in my hometown Pharwala was close to the one here in Vancouver. As usual, the wedding seasonwas in full swing at this time of the year. My family and I were looking forward to spending the next two months-till early April – in the Punjab.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)