Octogenarian American in love with soil of Punjab

January 6th, 2009 - 11:06 pm ICT by ANI  

By Avtar Gill
Abohar, Jan.6 (ANI): People of Punjab are known for enjoying their lives to the full. And, the feeling of family and brotherhood being integral to their day-to-day lifestyle can charm anyone, especially those from the western world.
A retired officer of the American Navy has also fallen in love with Punjab. He says he felt drawn to the warmth of Punjabis besides their culture, and thus, decided to spent rest of his life in Punjab.
Eighty-year-old Melvin Deen Barner, a native of Guyana in South America, today lives with the family of Jugraj Singh in Bathinda city in Punjab. He calls Singh his younger brother. Melvins had earlier traveled to India on two occasion and was completely taken in with Indian hospitality and culture. I have decided to stay in Punjab. Haven”t yet decided when I am going to return. I like Bathinda because I have many friends in the U.S. who hail from Punjab. Many Sikhs and other Indians whom I know for the last 30 years. Many of them are from Punjab. So I decided to stay in Punjab and this is my third visit to India. This area reminds me much of North Guyana, said Melvin Deen Barner. Melvin was a friend of Jugraj Singh’’s brother in Guyana. Today, in India, he has developed a charm to learn Punjabi language and immerse himself in the Punjabi lifestyle. A follower of all faiths, he is keen to learn about the Indian history, especially the birth of Sikhism as a religion. In Guyana, Melvin was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and was associated with Iskon. I belong to Iskon, the international society for Krishna conciousness. But, people ask me about my faith. I say I am Iskon. They asked me what is Iskon, what is your faith. I say I am a Christian, I am a Hindu, I am a Muslim, I am a Sikh I am all. We just believe in the unity of God, much like the Sikh people, He is fond of Punjabi food like `Sarson da saag” and `makki di roti” and is delighted by the generosity and honesty of the people of Punjab. Melvin Deen Barner, said: Punjabi people in all over India are open people always smiling, very polite. Americans are also very polite. But here they are genuine and what I love about people here is the openness. They make a friend for life. They open everything for you. Guest is like a God in India. Melvin’’s arrival in Punjab reverses the trend of Punjabis leaving for foreign shores. But it is not surprising as Punjab is a vibrant land that may hold anyone in its magnetic spell. (ANI)

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