Mike Landry is becoming something of a local celebrity after working 19 years as a bus driver in Brampton.

Landry, with the help of some passengers, has been learning Punjabi which is one of the many spoken languages in Brampton. It all started four years ago when Landry greeted a group of young men coming home from work after a night shift with “sat sri akaal”, a greeting used among Sikhs. The young men were surprised to hear him speak their mother tongue and decided to teach him more words.

“I was picking it up fairly quick, so they just started adding more words and vocabulary. I was having a ball with it,” says Landry. “A small thing like ‘sat sri akaal’ would open everything. And that to them was a whole world of respect.”

The longtime Brampton Transit driver was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction he got so he went to the library and took out books to learn more of the language, its vocabulary, and how to conjugate verbs.

Since then, passengers have been having conversations with him on trips, filming their interactions with him and posting their videos online. Landry has been enjoying the results of learning some Punjabi so he’s also been learning some Gujarati. He has even considered going to visit India for a month or two someday so he can better learn and understand the languages.

Landry says one of the best aspects of learning Punjabi is that he meets passengers who are new in Canada and haven’t been in the country for very long and that they appreciate it when they find out he can speak their language.