Stories

I

Baldev Singh | Shepherd | Tolawal

I’ve been doing this for 25 years now. When I began, I bought two goats from the village Togawal. One costed me 1100 rupees and other one was for 900 rupees. When the work picked up, I bought some sheep too. Slowly the number went from 17 to 45. Then it just went uphill from there. When I had enough money, I sold the animals and bought me some land but I couldn’t stand being at home all day

Read More »

Sanjiv Kumar | Mechanic | Ludhiana

When we were little, our mother passed away. After mothers’ death, our father started spending all his money on getting drunk and saved nothing. When our elder sister was married, he sold the house to keep up with the expenses and bought a smaller one in exchange. He was yet to register the house under his name, but he had no money left to do that, so he sold that house too and we moved to a rented place. Then my father married off my younger sister.

Read More »

Diyal Singh | Cobbler | Panjola

I am around 74 years old. I am working as a cobbler from 25-26 years. Prior to this, I used to be a farm labourer with the Jatt landlords and then I used to be a daily wage labourer. When I stopped doing the labour work. I learnt shoemaking from the village Balberha. There was this shoemaker of Jafarpur. After that I worked in my village, mending and making the shoes.

Read More »

Karnail Singh | Tailor | Kanakwal

My childhood was like every other child. We were four brothers and three sisters. My elder brother is a police officer and the youngest is a farm labourer. The middle one passed away. All three sisters are elder to me. My father was very good at farm work. We did not have our own land, so he was a share-cropper earning one sixth of the produce.

Read More »

Kirpal Singh | Horseshoe maker | Majeetha

I am 45 years old now. I passed the 10th grade in 1989 and started making horseshoes in 1990, I must be 15 or 16 years old then. In those days this profession was enough to pay the bills, I never felt the need to apply for an actual job.

Read More »

Kulwant Singh | Photographer | Adampur

I got married in 1975. That same year I went to Austria. There were a few of us who travelled by road at that time. Eventually, our visas expired after a year. We were expelled and forced to cross over to Yugoslavia. Fortunately, I had some money to travel back. I still wonder what would have happened if I had to stay back.

Read More »

Indervir Singh Atwal | Electrician and Truck Driver | Payal

We are from Farala. It is a village near Banga (district Nawan Shehar). My father had lived with his maternal grandparents in Doraha near Ludhiana. After my father’s mother passed away, and the stepmother neglected him, his maternal uncles took care of him. In ’58 my father got work in the State Electricity Board.

Read More »

Pritam Singh, Shinderpal Singh | Weapon Engravers | Bhinder Kalan

Our village is home to many Jathedars (leaders) of Damdami Taksal of Sikh faith. For generations, we have been engraving the traditional weapons; we are the fourth generation. Being artisans, our forefathers could make anything from a wagon to a rifle. Their work covered a whole gamut of artisanal jobs, be it masonry, black smithery or carpentry.

Read More »

Yeramma | Fish-seller | Visakhapatnam

My name is Yeramma, and I am 50-years old. I was born and raised in Visakhapatnam. I got into the business of selling fish and other seafood when I was ten years old. My mother used to sell fish near the beach in mid-1970s.

Read More »

Balbir Kaur | Dari Maker | Arnauli

My name is Balbir Kaur. My paternal village is Daghaat near BhadsoN. It was my aunt who taught me this craft. I can do embroidery and knit sweaters. I have done all kinds of work – cotton picking, chilli picking, yarning the cotton. I know how to knit cotton shawls too. It is tough work; I learnt it but never did it.

Read More »

Neelam | Kulcha Maker | Manimajra

I can make ten rotis in ten minutes, one roti per minute. The pranthas keep going on till 11 at night. That’s because I have registered our shop with Zomato company, and they demand paranthas till that late at night.

Read More »

Bara Singh | Ironsmith | Singhanwala

My forefathers, who had lived in Pakistan, were also ironsmiths. They made ploughs, yokes, and other tools for the farmers. It used to be called sepi. Our village was Baar, near Burewala. I was named after the name of the village. A couple of months before the partition, the village leader sensed the troubles.

Read More »

Vijay Kumar | Band Master | Alawalpur

I am the Brass Bandmaster. We only play the wedding song tunes with the musical organs and instruments; military bands also perform steps. We have three kinds of programs – turbaned Punjabi band, Folk Punjabi band in Bhangra dance attire, and Pahadi band. We try to recreate the bygone atmosphere. I am the master, so I take the lead.

Read More »

Ram Singh | Leather Tanner | Malerkotla

My ancestral village is Mehatpur, near Nakodar. I am over 50 years. I have studied till the fourth standard. I could have studied further, but my brothers had me leave school to go to Calcutta; my father had been working there for 20 years. I worked there for 10 years. When our father died, we moved to Malerkotla. We used to have our own business but we had to shut it down because of the losses.

Read More »

Hussain Ali | Hookah Maker | Malerkotla

Hookah business is slow these days; it used to be good before 1947. There were eight workshops here, now it’s just me. I was an apprentice with a hookah maker for four years. I learnt the craft from him. My grandfather was into some other field of work. I kept working with my father and learnt the craft slowly.

Read More »

Khairdeen | Watchman | Jandali

My name is Khairdeen. My story began in 1947 when I started working as a watchman. I had worked as a well digger or a farm labourer. In 1947, there were innumerable instances of bloodshed, looting, and sexual violence against women. Similar incidents happened in the nearby village, Tola Loona Zaildar Wala.

Read More »

Amarjit kaur | weaver | Singhan wala

Amarjit Kaur, Weaver, Singhanwala (Moga)

I have spent all my life working on the loom. I used to weave cotton blankets, now I weave woolen blankets. Everyone used to work on cotton earlier. It was my own effort that I started weaving woolen blankets. The wool is divided proportionally and the pattern is formed accordingly on the blanket. We lay the warp here at home, and then I weave the weft on the loom.

Read More »

Sohan singh | Almirah maker | Malerkotla

I have been working for 50 years. I started helping out my elders early on. I worked in Gobindgarh for a year and a half, but I had to return to Saraud due to some family concerns and settled here permanently from then on. I am 67 years old now. I am eligible for the old-age pension from the Government but I am yet to receive any. I have applied several times, but they say there is some discrepancy and keep turning me away.

Read More »

Amrik singh | Adampur | Cotton mill operator

My grandfather was from Toba Tek Singh. When the plague spread in 1908, he was two and a half years old. His elder siblings died during the plague, his uncle took the surviving children along and came to Haripur. I was born on the 15th of July, 1944. I’m 75 now. My childhood wasn’t like a normal childhood. I didn’t have the option to go play anytime I wanted to. I have been working from the age of eleven

Read More »

Rajinder Singh | Instrument Maker | Nawan Shehar

Our family has been making musical instruments from hundred and fifty years. I was fifteen when I got into this, it has been thirty-three years now. Our business almost came to a standstill before 1984 but after ’84 it became alive with a wave of new young singers. People moved on from Tumbi to more diverse traditional instruments with time.

Read More »

Jaswinder Kaur | Village Janitor | Sunder Singh Wala

I have been a cleaner and sweeper of cattle dung in almost all the houses of Surastigarh. After 6 months, some households would give me 2 quintal rice, some would give 3 quintal wheat. I had to fight for it if someone didn’t give the meant amount. Sometimes I did extra cleaning jobs if needed and got additional money for that.

Read More »

Harbhajan Singh | Carpenter | Banga

You are too young to have seen the coal operated buses. It happened in 1952 due to the shortage of petrol. They fixed a small steam engine behind every bus. It happened for a year. 100 rupees was all it was needed to become a partner of transportation company but even that was rare in those days.

Read More »

manjit singh | Electrician/artist | Adampur

My grandfather was a contractor during the British rule. He was an expert in working carpentry and masonry. Impressed by his work, in 1933 they gifted him a pocket watch made by Western Watch Company. Around 1970, he passed it on to me. I still possess it and it is in working condition.

Read More »

Lakhwinder Singh | rahon | cobbler

My father used to sit here earlier. I’ve been here for the last 20 years. He never let us help him with the work, instead, told us to go home and study. But when he passed away we had no alternative but to take over this profession. Even though we didn’t have any hint about repairing shoes, we started to sit on the roadside spot our father used to, offering the similar services.

Read More »

Malkit Kumar, Blacksmith, Rahon

This may seem easy but it takes a lot a time to make a sickle. First I’ve to flatten an iron bar by beating it with full force. Then inside an iron piece, I have to fit a steel inlay which also comes in a bar.

Read More »

Bhura Singh । Tailor । Jawaharwala

My parents used to work as a farm labourer until I was sixteen. They worked their way out and started cultivating land on contract. Every year we rent 2-3 acres, plant the seasonal crops along with the fodder for cattle.

Read More »

Ranjit Singh | Blacksmith | Daun

Machines can never replace what’s done with hands. All this repair work you see, this fine finishing with these tools is handwork, there’s no machine you can place it under and get such results.

Read More »

Bhagat Singh । Locksmith । Patiala

These shops (around Qila Mubarak) used to be stables of royal horses. They changed into shops as the monarchs left the fort. My father and grandfather used to work as mechanics for Maharaja Bhupinder Singh…

Read More »

Mohamad Rasheed | Net Maker | Harike

Originally, we are from Bijnour, U.P. My grandfather came with a group of fishermen who got a contract to fish at Harike more than fifty years ago. After the contract was over, he decided to stay back while the others left.

Read More »

Rajkumar Sharma | Bra-maker | Amritsar

My father used to be a tailor. Then, when we grew up, my brother started making bra patterns. He was so creative. We started working on bras. He made such comfortable pieces. He knew the exact size to be made.

Read More »

Kuljit Singh | Papad maker | Amritsar

It was all good before Sukhbir Badal made this heritage street, whatever the nonsense it is. He wanted to build a plaza here and asked us to sell our shops. When we denied, he built this wall ruining the rawness of such a spiritual place.

Read More »
Ishwar Das

Ishwar Das | Watchmaker | Patiala

I started this work fifty years ago. My parents used to make some random stuff at home and sell it, but the business wasn’t enough to keep things running smoothly. They put me in a school while studying there I got interested in watchmaking.

Read More »

Jaswant Singh Wadhawan | Coppersmith | Nabha

The shop is as old as the city, that’s more than 200 years. When Maharaja Nabha settled this city, he needed the coppersmiths and asked us to move here from a nearby village, Rajgarh Wajeedpur. This street was known as ‘Maharaja Thathera Bazaar’.

Read More »

Simla Nath | Snake-Charmer | Guru-Harsahai

We used to walk to a village, sit in front of a house and start playing the Been (wind instrument). Children and grown-ups would gather and ask us to perform with the snake. When we were done we would ask for a donation which most of the people made.

Read More »

Satpal Singh | Tea Maker, Shop | Moga

I’m at this shop for 50 years. My father used to sit here before me. I’ve sold tea all my life and it has been worth it. My children are married and I’ve bought them their own shops, not too big but big enough to support the daily errands.

Read More »

Sunil Kumar | Thathera | Lehragaga

I’ll (Sunil Kumar) show you a copper leaf, a customer from Patiala asked me to make. I’m sure if she tries to buy it from one of those fancy stores it will cost her four times what I’m selling it for.

Read More »

Abdal Majeed | Potter | Manimajra

I was born near Patiala. I lost all my family and relatives in 1947 and the years earlier. My sister was my saviour, She looked after me, helped me to settle, and got me a house here in Manimajra.

Read More »

Stay in Touch

Find us on