Nothing is lost in translation. The pursuit of women, animals and biceps, the convenience of arranged marriages, the insecurities of men and the frailties of women...the talk moves in loops and lurches, but is moored around the idea of virility and machismo. No sooner does it stray from its pivot than someone from the group, in this instance Gunraj Singh, interjects. "Ask me about any weapon in the world," he says. A deep scar on his left eyebrow speaks for itself. Born and bred in Hoshiarpur, lived and loved in America, but returned to his mustard fields, Gunraj, the owner of Bottoms Up, is straight out of television soap. He would be Carlos Solis, Gabrielle's husband, the macho man, if a Punjabi version of Desperate Housewives were made. Or, Nahar, Saloni's over-righteous husband in Saat Phere—Saloni Ka Safar.
Provincialism may be an inherited trait, but the province is also a place where attitudes change. While in the States, Gunraj did it all. "Girls, parties, a job, a degree, a business... I got what I chased," he says without any trace of modesty. "To be honest, those girls may be good fun, but can't make good wives," he adds. To be fair to him, he is consistent in his machismo, be it in the US or in Hoshiarpur, now his fiefdom where he is the local Mr Fix-It. He plays out the role of noblesse oblige, dispensing favours and hospitality. "Khundak" describes his idea of manhood and territoriality, as it does for thousands of men in North India. Gunraj lives by the turban he seldom wears, his wife, his children and his friends. The order changes, depending on what defines manhood on a particular day.