If you love to meet people and want to know Amristar better, then get out of your cars and get onto a bullock cart of tractor. That’s pretty much the kind of hitch hiking we did when we packed our backpacks and 16-month-old daughter to head into the heartlands of India’s famed border of Attari-Wagah with Pakistan.
It was harvest time and the fields were partly lush-green waiting for the ripe time to reap what was sown, partly tilled for the next harvest and partly harvested, with farmers bent over their months of tending and caring.
Houses along Attari’s border fields are massive in stature. Picture it to the bungalows of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and you can understand the opulence of these houses built with the intelligence of the olden days for good ventilation and the provision for modern day indulgences. One in each field, these sons of the soil know how to live with the times. When they are at work, driving their tillers or holding a sickle to harvest the crop is where their pride shows.
Gurudwaras, temples and mosques dot the landscape, and residents of the lower economic strata are ever ready to offer you at least a glass of water with a smile so warming that the sun fades in comparison.
October did nothing much to lower the heat of the sun, except sending whiffs of cool breeze our way. So chai became a mainstay of cooling it off with a bit of heat all through the journey. Brewed the traditional parochial way on burning wood that is fanned literally by a fan, our dear Saradar shared interesting tidbits of his land while pouring out the steaming elaichi chai (cardamom tea) into our glasses that were placed in a holder usually found in the hands of tea supply boys in the old city parts across India.
Brick kilns are making a business out of the heavenly soil in these lands. Will they stay to boost real estate and ruin the fertility of the land is a worry. But for now, the tractor ride and the bullock cart weaved us through wonderful memories of a village prospering along a city, alive with positivity in the heartland of a war zone.