Saturday, June 6, 2015

Love Affair with the Punjab

Last night everything I hoped and believed about Diljit Dosanjh turned out to be true. He was genuinely a good, kind young man. Yes, I say young man because he's two years old compared to me. And why am I putting this in a writing blog, you might ask? Because he was one of my first introductions to Punjab culture. His songs, particularly the tracks on his CD 'Sikh', were some of the first bhangra/desi sounds I heard. I fell in love with the beat, the round sound of the vowels and the rolled r's. Later, as I learned what the Pagri and Kara meant, I fell in love with the religion Diljit seemed to follow in such a devout manner. When I began writing my novel, "Leaving Home", I really wanted Diljit's music to be a part of my main character's journey into the culture. But I couldn't get a response from him. I thought maybe he was a fake.

When I met his mother and father this past December, I once again thought he was the kind of man I wanted to use as 'the voice of Punjab'. Add to that the fact that his extended American family are my favorite people on the planet. Raj, Ravinder, Happy, Harjit, Harpal, and the rest have welcomed me into their homes, into their hearts. They are my family, mere parvaar. As Diljit's fame got bigger and bigger, I started to doubt that he was still the man who sang and meant 'Gobind de Lal'. The man who seemed so passionate about the pillars of Sikhism - giving back to community, living a clean, humble life.

And then I met him. His concert was amazing. Better yet. He was humble. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by all of the people crowding to see him. He seemed irritated by all the fuss to keep people at a distance. When I gave him the pictures of his family, he seemed genuinely touched. Add to that all of the people who went out of their way to make Monica Harris and I feel like part of the Punjab community - Satvir, Nazmine, Jas, and particularly Deepak...

Along with Gurjeet, Manpreet, Jaswant, Harjinder, Gesu...and so many others...I am touched and honored to call all of you friends. The love affair that keeps me writing about the Punjab continues. Tujade mere pyare.

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