In India every community is special, has some wonderful traits of its own, share a rich tradition and culture and all of them together have made this country a unique one. But, at the same time, each possesses curious idiosyncrasies. Let’s discuss some of the quiddities of Bengalis.
• Every Bengali has a nickname. It can be weirdest at times when a 60-year-old lady is called “Khuku” (baby girl) by her close relatives and friends or a sombre looking bespectacled Bengali gentleman suddenly responses to the name, “Bhuto“. And, not to forget, our universal “Dada” is Sourav Ganguly and “Didi”, Mamata Banerjee.
• Time is an irrelevant factor to Bengalis and punctuality is a word seldom found in their dictionary. Don’t think your wrist-watch is not working when your Bengali friend says,”I’m coming back in just five minutes.” and doesn’t show up for at least one hour.
Another common way to tame time is, “aadh-ghonta dhore bolchhi 5 minute er modhyei jachchi” ( For the last half-an-hour, I’m saying that I’ll be there in 5 minutes).
• Bengalis love their heritage and culture. If even in Antarctica, more than 10 Bengali families are together by any chance, you are sure to find a Durga Pujo Pandal there with beautiful ‘bong babes’ cooking ‘bhog’ (prasad offered to the idol).
• Football is a game that every Bengali understands even better than José Mourinho or Louis van Gaal! It is in their blood and though they feel shy to show their talent to the world, they never restrain themselves to criticise each and every wrong move of Neymar or Messi.
• Bengali men are born intellectuals. They can help you understand everything from Game Theory to Goethe, from communism to deconstruction and everything on earth. You are sure to look at him with magnanimous respect and awe until his mother calls him up and says,”Babu, baaire boshe thekona,thanda lege jaabe”. (Son, don’t sit there for long, you’ll catch cold).
• A Bengali (girl or boy) is forever a kid to her/his mother. An ideal Bengali mother keeps on persuading her kids on drinking milk mixed with Horlicks instead of cha (tea) and, on wearing the monkey-cap covering the entire head, ears, and half of the face till the last day of her life.
• If you have no idea regarding the differences between a rajbhog and a roshogolla, alukabli and alu chat, Padma’r ilish and Ganga’r ilish and most importantly, ghoti and bangal, don’t ever dare to confront a Bengali on these issues. If you mistakingly do, you’ll be in a thick soup.
• If you want to impress a Bengali girl, praise her father, her brother-in-law and gift her books; not the popular Chetan Bhagat or Durjoy Datta ones, that would ruin her impression about your choice. Go for Brecht, Kafka. Lorca, Nietzsche or at least Joyce. In case you are already feeling asphyxial by these names, play safe and buy a Rabindra Rachanabali.
• For non-Bengali girls, if you are in love with a Bengali guy, call his mother to learn the recipe of prawn malaikari and shukto, try it and serve it with tearful eyes saying, “I know your mom cooks way better than me, but you see, I tried”, and see the magic!
• Finally, as it is said, a Bengali can go out of Kolkata, but it’s never possible to take Kolkata out of her/his heart.
Last but not the least, this post is not meant to demean or insult anyone. Everything stated here is in good humour and must be taken with a half-serious attitude.
P.S. I’ll be back with more of Bengal and Bengalis. Till then, enjoy!