Dec 8, 2009
Ding dong I am a Bong! :-)
I’ve been really busy doing nothing the last couple of days and lemme tell you that it is a full time job. So D is in town and he and I sat around eating, watching tv, rolling on the bed and watching some more tv whole of yesterday. We lazed around so much that by the end of it by 6 in the evening we couldn’t stand the sight of the television hahah! D is my closest cousin who lives and works in Maine and I get to meet him once in 2 years or so. He happened to sneak a break and managed really cheap tickets and hence came down all of a sudden. But as luck would have it his visit coincides with a wedding and now he is all busy trying to balance us and the other part of the family together. He and I both are completely at sea with all these Bengali wedding rituals and my Mum and aunt take full responsibility for it. I am rather ashamed of the fact that I cannot write Bengali fluently and that I had it as third language in school or that I honestly did not know what “aaiburobhaat” was until I saw someone tagged on an FB album and looked like she was getting married only to be told it’s a pre-wedding bridal shower. When I asked my newly and blissfully wedded friend Riona what the word meant she had that look of surprise on her face. I was like “ I really don’t know what it means and I am not putting on an act.” She said “yeah right you know what mehendi and sangeet is but you don’t know what aaiburobhaat is.” Yes I don’t but I do wanna know more. I did grow up in Kolkata and spent 8 years there but it was just different in our house. I speak my mother tongue fluently but I can pass myself off as a non-bengali effortlessly. I often come across people who poke fun at my ignorance of Bengali culture. I am just not conventional bong and come to think very few of us are typical of our region or typical of our part of the country all thanks to our upbringing and the wandering lives we have lead. But that doesn’t mean I am not proud of my roots or that I don’t enjoy all that comes along as a part and parcel of being a Bengali. I love my “machher jhol and bhaat” but I can live being a vegetarian for months. I adore the old “Uttam Suchitra” movies but cannot stand the new age "running around the trees variety" of bong flicks being churned out. Those are an absolute insult to the legacy of the likes of Satyajit Ray and Bimal Roy. My biggest regret is that I cannot read Bengali properly and thus couldn’t get a first hand taste of Bengali literature. Reading the original classics cannot be compared to reading translations and I don’t understand the language half as well I would have liked to. Growing up my Mum had made it a rule to speak Bengali at home cos in school one got to speak only in English and socializing with the other army kids we spoke a lot in hindi. I use to be appalled at those Bengali families where they spoke hindi at home despite coming from small towns in Bengal. They took a certain pride in doing so and Ma and I found that hilarious. Forgetting one’s roots is downright shameful.
Now that I am grown up and been living away for a while I think I crave to speak Bengali sometimes unlike in college where I confess I kept away from the Bengali clan. That was also cos they were Bengali with a vengeance and that definitely turns me off. Am I a hypocrite? Maybe I was but now me thinks I have made peace with my identity. I do get defensive when the bong jokes go over the top. I remember this one time in Delhi when I blew my top when this guy started criticizing Kolkata saying “There ain’t too many malls in Calcutta like Gurgaon and happening party places.”:p I said something nasty like “Yeah with you Delhiites it stops at malls and party places. That is how far you care to use your grey cells.” No offence meant to anybody please I lauuuu Delhi but hate such insensitive people with a frog in the well attitude. Sigh! I haven’t even dated too many Bengali men ;-). Or have I? Hmmmm I have had crushes on some dozens of them hahah! Naaa it has been a while that I met an interesting Bengali man or it maybe otherwise. We shall leave it at that. ;-) Talking in Bengali isn’t a problem now since my closest friends understand it fluently so there have been times when I wanted to bitch about someone so have done so in Bengali to She or Finoo and they understood every word to the last T. Naaa not that Calcutta did that to them but Pune did. What to do half of Calcutta landed up there and we polluted the city with our Bengaliness and Bengalisms hahah! Yeah so I guess I’ll never ever be the conventional archetypal Bengali and but a bong I am and always shall be nonetheless.