11 May, 2021

Our Pind In Yuba

Yuba City, prune capital of California, is also a veritable 'chhotta Punjab', with the immigrants putting their own vibrant stamp to its culture and economy

Gauri Gill
Our Pind In Yuba

You drive up the narrow road on Route 99, flanked on either side by peach trees, and enter Yuba City in Sutter County, about 125 miles from San Francisco. This, as you have found out, is the heart of the 'Rice Bowl' and the 'Prune Capital' of California. But what you didn't know and which you soon realise after driving around in Yuba City is: that you are also in a veritable 'Chhotta Punjab', where a throaty Sat Sri Akal is the preferred form of greeting; where you can speak Punjabi and not be the odd man out at the local gas station, at the doctor's clinic, even at the farms.

There are more surprises in store. You come across people strolling around nonchalantly in pathan suits. At the farm of Didar Singh Bains, counted among the country's largest peach farmers, you find his hip daughter Daljit, a former model, speak to the workers in fluent Punjabi. At the Freemont Medical Centre, Dr Jasbir Singh Kang's nameplate, believe it or not, is in Punjabi. You drive around, you talk to people—you are told Punjabi is taught in the high schools, that Sikhs constitute...

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