They are Punjabis from Delhi but can safely be called Bangaloreans as they love everything about the City. Dinesh Behl moved to Bangalore 14 years ago with his wife Alka and daughter Karnika and has enjoyed every moment of his stay here. “My grandparents are from Pakistan but shifted to Delhi after Partition. So we have never really lived in Punjab,” says Karnika, who is studying journalism in MS Ramaiah College of Arts, Science and Commerce.
Dinesh, who worked with the Indian Air Force, opted to come to Bangalore post his retirement when he got a job opportunity here.
“His last posting was in Coimbatore and at that time, we had visited Bangalore once or twice. I fell in love with the City and its weather and wanted to settle down here. I didn’t like Delhi’s extreme weather and thought the city was very crowded,” says Alka. “My mother scolded me at that time saying ‘you are from Delhi and you should stay here’,” she laughs.
Even Dinesh was initially hesitant and didn’t want to leave Delhi. “But when I got the business opportunity with a relative, I never looked back,” he says.
Alka recalls the funny moment when that opportunity came. “We got a call at 10 in the night and he took it up without thinking twice. No one in the family knew about it. Everyone thought it was something temporary. Slowly after a month, Karnika and I joined him,” she smiles. Now, Dinesh is a government contractor who works at the airports while Alka takes tuitions at home.
Food was a challenge initially for the family. “Be it the vegetables or water, everything tastes totally different here. Vegetables like radish and carrot are better in Delhi especially during the winters. But that apart, I love South Indian food especially marriage food. If I get invited for a South Indian wedding, I never miss it,” laughs Alka. Karnika agrees, “I prefer idli- dosa over dal makhni. In college, I eat only South Indian food.”
Speaking of weddings, Karnika loves the richness of Punjabi weddings. “The Punjabi culture is very rich. I find South Indian weddings a little plain in comparison. There is no dhamaka,” she laughs. “But I do like the simplicity of South and the gaudiness of the North,” she adds.
The Behls travel to Delhi every year to meet their extended family. “But I prefer Bangalore,” says Karnika. On Sundays, the family loves heading to places like Commercial Street and Majestic. “In fact, there is a bylane in Commercial Street that sells idli-dosa. I call it Khao Bazaar and love taking our relatives there,” says Alka. “Even my students keep bringing me dishes like pulao. Though pulao is made in the North too, the South Indian one tastes different and is so delicious,” she adds.
Dinesh enjoys spending time with the members of Punjabi Association.
“We mostly hold functions at Bowring Club and Jayamahal Palace,” he explains. Today, the three look back fondly at all the years they have spent in the City.
“Since we had someone from the family here right from start, we always felt at home,” he notes. Alka sums her experiences here saying, “I love Bangalore.”