Conversational language(s) in the pre-1947Punjab

Joginder Anand


Dr. Anand - an unholy person born in 1932 in the holy town of Nankana Sahib, central Punjab. A lawyer father, a doctor mother. Peripatetic childhood - almost gypsy style. Many schools. Many friends, ranging from a cobbler's son (poorly shod as the proverb goes) to a judge's son. MB From Glancy (now Government) Medical College Amritsar, 1958. Comet 4 to Heathrow, 1960.

Long retired. Widower. A son and a daughter, their spouses, five grandchildren, two hens (impartially, one black, one white) keeping an eye on me as I stand still and the world goes by.

In the pre-1947 Punjab, theoretically, we should all have been able to converse in Punjabi. Most of us did, most of the time. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians.

I never met a Buddhist in my childhood though I saw, occasionally, a Tibetan or a Ladakhi, in Lahore before 1947. These gentlemen (there were no ladies, nor children among them) conversed amongst themselves in an unknown tongue. Their apparel marked them as foreigners-to-Punjab. That they were Buddhists, I knew from geography but their religion and their language was of no importance to me. Such was my narrow and limited interest. Despite having read Kipling's Kim when I was around 13 years old, I assumed, no doubt correctly, that they were either traders or Lamas journeying to Bihar.

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