Our last night in Amritsar, Jill and I were invited to a friend of a friend’s home for dinner. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. On a trip with new and exciting experiences daily that is saying a great deal. We met a couple, their grandfather, and two of their female friends in a private home near the central part of the city. Their home is filled with Oriental rugs, hand crafted furniture (from Spain), antique artwork and Indian charm. It was immaculate and if I didn’t know any better I could have been in a museum but pictures occupying the tables signaled this was indeed a home. The family is in the education business and we got the impression it was a very lucrative business while our gracious host said it has changed (and copied) in the last 20 years. Our new friends were very well educated and versed in several languages. The husband and one other guest were pilots for KingFisher air and another guest born and raised in Bangkok studied in Amritsar where her grandmother lived. She is a cake designer and interestingly enough will be taking a course in Chicago next year.
They dressed in modern clothes – jeans and sweaters and in their late 20’s – early 30’s seemed like any other person in the world of the same age. They are no longer religious but adhere to some of the customs and observances. One of the women is a Brahman (upper caste) Hindu but married a Muslim. Our host and her husband had an arranged marriage of sorts – she met him once and then he phoned a few months later and they were engaged and then married. The woman from Bangkok is still single at 29. That of course made me happy.
We discussed a great deal about Pakistan. They believe Osama Bin Laden was already dead and that is why we never saw a body (on the attack). The Indian theory is that we attacked his follower’s house and then took credit for his death but he had been dead a long time. Jill and I shared our 9/11 stories and how government works in the United States. I was fascinated by the Indian connection to Pakistan. Our host loves Pakistan and explained that in her opinion Indians and Pakistanis were the same. The partition of India and Pakistan by the British was based solely on religion. While we learned today that Pakistan is moving toward a completely Islamic state pushing out or even killing many of the remaining Hindus, it remains that Pakistan and India were once the same people. The husband expressed his concern that Indians and Sikh’s in general are mistaken as terrorists because they wear turbans and have dark skin. It made me a little sad that we as Americans don’t take the time to recognize the difference and immediately jump to negative thoughts. In a world where we are all faced with the threat of terrorism, these feelings are very real.
We dined on traditional Punjabi food that consisted of a spinach type of lasagna, chicken with peas and paneer(cottage cheese type of dish). It was all delicious food. Our hosts have a nearly two-year-old child who entertained us with his dance moves and beautiful smile. (By the way, they pay roughly $200 USD a month for a nanny). We thoroughly enjoyed our evening of great conversation and new friends.