When we got back from our amazing honeymoon, Jaskaran was calling and calling “come to my farm I am having a birthday party for Steph!!!”, we had to go to Happy’s parents house first for a night to see his mumy and then we went on to Jaskarans house the next day, his mum why saying why are you going there!! stay here longer!! I said to happy it’s a constant tug-o-war of the two families wanting us to visit and having to decide where to go and who to make happy! They had already been arguing about where we would be going for Diwali!
We arrived in Madu Chhanga and I said to Jaskaran wheres the birthday party!?!? He said “no discuss party with anyone, wait 1 hour” I thought well he is definitely up to mischief! So I sat with his mum & sister watching TV while Happy & Jaskaran took off somewhere in the car, when they came back they said “Steph we are going somewhere, get in the car” , his mum was saying WHERE ARE YOU GOING AT THIS TIME (it was dark but only 7pm), generally no one is really allowed out at night much, but we always get away with it, he said to her we are going to a restaurant, they went out to the car and she said to me “they are lying and will be planning on drinking, keep an eye on them”, Didi always knows everything!
When we got in the car I said “where’s the party!!!!” Jaskaran said “its at my farm 600m away we are going to play music from the car”, I asked “where’s the cake!?”, Jasakaran said “no cake, I got you a bottle of whisky instead!” awesome! Half way to the field his 2 cousins down the lane also jumped in the car, we got to the farm and the party began, the music was cranked up and we drank and danced all night, I knew Didi could probably see us from the roof at home and would be watching hahaha! We got home at midnight and Jaskaran said “don’t tell mum we were drinking”, he walked in and he said I LOVE YOU MUM and hugged her, TOTAL GIVE AWAY she knew instantly!!!! We all just laughed and went to bed, but it was an awesome night!
Didi gave me a purple & white Punjabi suit for my birthday which was so pretty and I also had the yellow one made that she gave me for our wedding present. I have had my suits made at all different places, but the lady who makes most of mine in Fategarh is the nicest and they always fit perfectly, and if there is any alterations needed she does it on the spot there and then! Her daughter I have spoken about in previous posts always takes photos of me on her phone when I come into the shop, she’s cute! 🙂
Cup of tea & lunch and then we were on our way back home again
The next day I had promised Happy’s cousin Prabh I would come into her college (Khalsa College) in the city and meet her for lunch with her friends, I was a head taller than all of them! Her college was such a beautiful building, it’s quite famous in Amritsar as it is a heritage building, they gave me a full tour of the buildings and their classrooms and then Happy took us all for pizza in Ranjit Avenue, he had the music playing so loud in the car and all the girls were giggling in the back, he asked prabh if they were skipping class coming with us for lunch and there was silence, and Happy said “that is a yes then” and they all laughed again.
Diwali is the festival of lights, some families celebrate by decorating or renovating their homes, buying new clothes, eating sweets & special types of dishes, covering their houses & buildings in lights and buying fireworks. Leading up Diwali, all the shops were filled with huge amounts of lights, fireworks and large boxes of suits & chocolates and trays of diwa lamps, I just wanted to buy everything!!! As everyone knows I love candles and lights so this was right up my alley.
My favourite Shimla market was lit up and covered in decorations and shops selling all kinds of goodies for Diwali, Happy and I went for a wander one night and I had to restrain myself from buying everything!!!
Our favourite restaurant Eldo Rado was also lit up! As was most of the shops buildings and houses for the week leading up to the big day! So exciting, I loved driving around looking at all the amazing decorations & lights
Houses & the temple in our suburb Holy city all lit up, whenever we were home I loved sitting on the roof looking at all the lights and watching the fireworks, there were fireworks every night for a week!
At Happy’s family house in Jhanjoti, I asked his mum and Prabh how to make bread pakoras, I had a notepad and expected them to just tell me what to do and I would write it down, his mum said “I have some bread we will make them!” Prabh got the batter together and I wrote down notes and their loose measurements of things, they both giggled when I asked how many spoons of each ingredient they always said “just this much in your hand!” , Mummy asked Shehnoor (Happy’s niece) to go out to the farm and get us some spinach, she came back with one leaf, she got told off for bringing us one silly leaf and she ran off again to get a bunch hahaha! His mum loved teaching me how to make pakoras and also taught me how to make mango pickle, Pinky was out for the day and I felt like it was much easier to ask Mummy questions without her there as she is always the big family boss in the house!! I asked his Mum if she will come to Australia and she said “yes you can go to work and I will make the roti’s at home!” and I said if you do that my family will be over daily for lunch!!
In Jhanjoti we looked through all our wedding photo’s on the laptop and Happy’s cousin Shubh said “why didn’t they do a photo shoot of you two on your own!? Let’s go do one now in the field!!!” We went outside and they decided they wanted to also take photo’s on the tractor, Daddy said them “Steph can go on the tractor but only the surrounding fields not too far away!!!” They are always worried about my safety and also don’t like all the people in the village staring at me. We went to the next field from the house and Shubh took heaps of photos of Happy & I in different poses, I couldn’t take it seriously and was laughing through the entire thing, Punjabi people love having their photo’s taken!!!
Jaskaran’s mum went to a friends house down the lane and then Happy & Jaskaran went off to cut the food for the buffalos, so it was only his sister Palvi and I at home, we were sat on the sofa’s chatting and looking at Punjabi suits on the internet, suddenly there was a loud bang!! Palvi said to me “THATS THE BUFFALOS every time I am home alone they try to make a run for it !!!!” We jumped up and ran outside to see them all leaving the house single file through the gates, they had broken through the pole across the gate that was holding them in!!! Palvi grabbed a broom stick and I found a bamboo pole and we both ran after them yelling come back come back Maju !!! One naughty one darted around the corner and was off, the others all turned around and looked a bit lost not knowing what they were doing, they had clearly just been following the leader, I rang Jaskaran and said come back quick the buffalo’s are loose out the front and we can’t get them back in!!!!!!! Palvi said stuff it let’s go back inside, they are not listening to us and they are just hanging around anyway they are not running, Jaskaran can sort it out!!! hahaha Jaskaran came back and they all quickly ran back into their pen, they knew who was boss!! I told Jaskaran they had hardly even looked sideways at Palvi and I, he said our voices were too high pitched!!! He literally yelled at them “ET !! ET!!! ETT!!” that’s it and they all went running back to where they came from!
The day of Diwali finally arrived and we went to Happy’s parents house, I wasn’t sure what we would be doing to celebrate because I hadn’t heard about any plans, but I thought something would have happened last minute as usual! 🙂
When we pulled into the house and opened the gates there were about 50 family members in the front of the house dancing and going crazy, lounge bhangra music playing out of huge speakers attached to the tractor motor and everyone going wild!!! I could not believe it!! I got out of the car and his mum was clapping saying “Stephies first Diwali Stephies first Diwali!!!” It was such a fun night, after an hour of dancing I was already exhausted but they kept going for at least 6 hours with only one break at 9pm for a cup of tea!!! All this dancing and no alcohol involved just sober happiness!!!
After the dancing finished everyone went back to their houses and the party was over, we all came inside at 12 midnight for dinner, Happy’s mum had made chicken curry and it was the yummiest chicken curry I had ever had!!! Plus I was starving!!!
Chicken Curry & chapatti, Pic of Happy, Me, Shubh, Prabh, Shazad & Shehnoor, Pic of Happy, Me & Shubh (they look like twins!!)
The party was all too much for Happy’s Daddy, he was asleep by 10pm!!!
The next day we hung around the farm, Prabh & I got to work fixing up some of my outfits that were too big for me and we had lots of cups of tea & food!!! That night Pinky did a special ceremony with lamps inside the house praying to the Guru’s and placing small clay lamps all over the house inside and out. Happy & Shubh went off and bought a whole heap of fire works and we set them off from the roof for about 2 hours it was soo much fun and so scary !!!!!!!! They had all different types spinners on the floor, rockets, and all kinds as well as sparklers!!
That night at 11pm, I reminded Happy that I really really wanted to go to the Golden Temple on the day of Diwali, and he said “but it is going to be packed it will be so busy we can’t go today it will be packed it will take hours to get inside”, the entire family kept trying to talk me out of it saying go there another day when its not as busy, I was trying to tell them why would I go another day I especially want to see what its like on this day !?!? I was saying to them all “I don’t care about crowds I love crowds!!!”, they gave in and off we went! Happy, Shubh and I went home first and showered and changed as we have to wash before entering. We got into the city and parked the car and I was thinking this is strange the car park is quite empty, as we walked down the road towards the temple there were not many people around at all, and the boys were quiet!!! I said to them EAT YOUR WORDS BOYS ITS NOT EVEN BUSY!!! The three of us burst out laughing and they were saying “oh my god as soon as we walked down the road we were both saying oh noooo she’s going to kill us if its not even busy after all that!!!!” Because we had come so late and the centre temple was closed there was not as many people there, but hundreds sleeping out around the outsides waiting for it to re open. There was fireworks going off and the lights covering the Golden Temple & surrounds were absolutely amazing, I must have taken 100s of photos so I will only include the best ones!!!
We also ate in the Langar Hall (free community meal), I couldn’t believe the number of volunteers in the section next door washing the thousands and thousands of plates!!!
Pic of my last day in Amritsar sitting on our roof looking over at the Gurdwara next door listening to the Baba ji singing, I will miss all the relaxing days I have spent sat on the roof looking out at the surroundings and writing my blog for you to all read.
After Diwali celebrations had finished, I decided I was finally ready to go home and begin a new life back in Perth. Happy decided to stay in Amritsar for 2 more months to attend his cousin/sister Neetu’s wedding (Prabh’s older sister) as they grew up together in their joined family houses and are very close and he didn’t want to miss it, that was fine with me we have the rest of our lives together!
It was very emotional saying goodbye to all the family members, I think I cried for a week leading up to the last day and felt so sad leaving them all after I had become so close to everyone all year, living in each others pockets!! I wrote everyone goodbye cards and we spent my last 2 days driving to several family houses saying goodbye to everyone. I found Didi the hardest to say goodbye to, she was already crying when I arrived and was so upset when we left, I thanked her for looking after me so much all year as we spent so much time at her house as Happy & Jaskaran are the bestest of friends & cousins, every time I was homesick, sad, lonely or even just had a cold she was always there to fix all my issues, I will miss sitting on the bed with her and her daughter Palvi gossiping about the other family members and going for long walks around their village & farm.
It was equally as hard to say goodbye to Happy’s parents & immediate family, that night we went to their house for dinner, my last stop, and I said goodbye to everyone, the day’s leading upto it I had separate chats with each family member before I left, telling them to always keep in touch and how much I will miss them. Sonu (Happy’s eldest brother) and I had sat on the roof chatting one night for 2 hours, he said he had been waiting for days to get his chance to have a final last deep & meaningful conversation before I left! I told him you can call me anytime its not our last chat. Prabh hugged me about 8 times on my last night and his mum was so upset & teary, I promised her I will come back in a year or so!!! We had a teary farewell and I was off on my way !
Happy, Shubh & Jaskaran dropped me at the airport, Shubh & Jaskaran were my two favourites from my amazing time in Punjab, I will miss them so much they were my closest friends and came everywhere with us and cheered me up every time I was homesick! Jaskaran told us off in the car and said NO CRYING STOP NOW THATS ENOUGH which was great as it made us all laugh and they waved me off. Happy organised a man to escort me around the airport carrying my bags for me, how embarrassing I was definitely not a VIP, but looked like one being the only white person in the airport at the time! When I got to Delhi, Jaskaran had text me saying we cried the whole way home and more when we went to bed ! hahaha
Thank you to everyone who sent us wedding cards & gifts to Amritsar, we had over a hundred cards to open from our wedding day and when they were given to me, much to my disappointment, his family had already opened all of them!!! Typical! Luckily they did save me the few that had come from overseas for me to open myself! No boundaries!!! We really appreciated the kind & thoughtful words and cards that were sent to us from all over the world, thank you so much, we are both so lucky to have such caring & thoughtful friends & family!
So this will be my last blog post for now as I am finally back in Perth for good! Thank you so much to all my readers for following along my journey this year, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and learnt a few things about being an Australian wife in a Punjabi life!
Over & Out
Mrs Chhina x
PS – I now have an online store on Etsy selling Laces from Amritsar. In Amritsar they are called Laces, however in Australia they could be called trimming, edging, ribbons etc. Mostly they are used when making Punjabi suits – stitched onto the edges of sleeves or scarves, however they could also be stitched onto cushions, blankets, dresses or anything you like really! If you want to have a look at my store, here is the link below, my stock is limited at the moment as I am waiting for more goodies to arrive from Amritsar in the mail.