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The gentle, witty bhajis of Doaba

The gentle, witty bhajis of Doaba


Poonam Khaira Sidhu

IN Punjab, your regional identity often defines who you are. If Malwa is famous for its cool kakajis, Majha is known by its fierce bhaus and Doaba for its gentle bhajis.

Nestled between the Beas and Sutlej rivers, Doaba is special because of its geography, fertile land, flourishing industry and a large diaspora. Doabias are spread across Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. Their global presence brings in remittances and has made the region a melting pot of modern influences. No wonder some homes, marriage palaces, hotels and even hospitals there look like mini European castles, complete with baroque paintings and plastic hothouse flowers.

A Doabia joke that captures the regional ethos talks about a Malwai, a Majhail and a Doabia boasting about their homeland. The Malwai says: ‘In Malwa, summers are so hot that even the crows carry water bottles.’ The Majhail replies: ‘That’s nothing. In Majha, we are so tough, we use bulletproof vests as raincoats.’ The Doabia says: ‘In Doaba, our relatives send us air-conditioners and raincoats from Europe.’ This joke highlights the stereotype of Doabias being well-connected globally, while also playing on the toughness of Majha residents and the extreme weather of Malwa.

Blessed with fertile soil, Doaba has adopted modern agricultural practices. Ever seen someone chase away crows with the determination of a gladiator? Visit a Doabian farm. Another story that underscores the resourcefulness of its people and their ability to leverage their global connections for local benefits is about a Malwai, a Majhail and a Doabia who decide to compete in a farming competition. The Malwai boasts: ‘Our soil is so rich that crops grow double the size of those anywhere else!’ The Majhail retorts: ‘In Majha, we have the most advanced irrigation techniques. Our crops are always treble the size of those elsewhere.’ The Doabia, smiling gently, says: ‘Well, we just call up our relatives in Canada and they send us the latest equipment and seeds. The crop size rises manifold.’

Doabias are urbane, savvy and smooth operators. Unlike those from Majha, who deal with the struggles of living near the border or the Malwa folks, who brave the scorching heat, Doabias are city-bred; thanks to good schools and colleges, many make a career in medicine, Army or the hospitality sector — if they don’t move abroad. The sports and leather industries are testament to the region’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Doabias’ storytelling skills are legendary. One tale goes thus: at a wedding, a buffalo strolled in. The bride’s uncle, known for his quick wit, declared that it was an old family friend who just couldn’t miss the celebration. The guests erupted in laughter, even as the buffalo munched on flowers.

The Doabias are a delightful blend of humour, heart and hustle. The next time you meet one, be ready to laugh and pick up a few life lessons along the way.

#Doaba #Majha #Malwa


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