Post 31, Nabha Market and Hiyana Kalan, Patiala

1 p.m.: Shailendra has come to Nabha Market in Patiala (some 70 kilometers from east of Barmalipur) to purchase switches for his cutter. He has grown a beard, since he has not had the time to get to a barber. He and his co-workers have just arrived from Malerkotla (about 15 kilometres south of Barmalipur), where they had gone to help construct the roof of a gurdwara: their friend Sandeep had requested for some help. That work complete, now Shailendra and his co-workers plan to spend a few days in Patiala where they will work to install a gate for a gurdwara in the town’s Hiyana Kalan locality.

2 p.m.: We board a tempo headed towards Hiyana Kalan. It takes us an hour to get to the gurdwara whose gates Shailendra and his co-workers will be making.

3 p.m.: Shailendra’s co-workers are already at the gurdwara, having arrived there directly from Malerkotla. Two of his cousins, who had travelled with him to Balmaripur in May, are here. Two other friends from Sargana have joined them. One of them, Charandev Rishi, had joined the team at Bija last month and travelled with them here. The second, Santosh RIshi, had accompanied a group of workers headed to Hissar in Haryana State to construct canals. However, their contractor, an acquaintance from the neighbouring Roshanar village, paid them too little.  Santosh left the group and went to work with Pradeep in Jammu. But he could not withstand the altitude of the place: it made him unwell, especially while traveling. So, he returned to Sargana. When Sundar, Shailendra’s cousin was travelling to Ludhiana earlier in September, Santosh decided to join him. Since then, he has been working alongside Shailendra and his friends on the Barmalipur gurdwara, and travelled with them to Paitala.

Sundar has stayed back in Barmalipur.

3:30 p.m.: The caretaker of the gurdwara serves us chapatis (unleavened flatbread) with sarson ka saag (mustard greens and spices). He comments that the locals know only how to build houses, and therefore have to import labour to build gurdwaras. Indeed, local Sikhs show very little interest in gurdwaras, he complains. All they care about are Radha Soami (a Hindu sect) devotional gatherings.

4:00 p.m.: Lunch done, we sit around and immerse ourselves in our respective mobile phones. Shailendra watches a bit of his favourite movie, listens to some Bhojpuri songs and talks to his wife and daughter.