Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Bong Chronicles: Part I

I Lack Bong-ness ...

Image: Google Images

The young father made sure that his Mumbai born daughter’s name is pronounced correctly (note: correctly = Bengalized way) by placing an "o" in the place of an "a" in her name. Alas, he had no inkling that the very daughter (yours' truly), would turn into anything but a true blue Bong.

To begin with, The Universe didn't give the trademark curly luscious mane; I am blessed with straight hair that threatens to thin out every now and then. Often, I have been told that my features are more of a Gujju's than of a Bong's- Interesting, no?

From lessons on how to separate fish bones and the flesh to savor machher jhols and jhaals to education on how culturally rich roots I have, I was being groomed by my parents (here majority of stocks belonged to my father) on how to be a Bengali.
I was introduced to Robindro shongeet and Nazrul geeti, and though I found them very soothing, I preferred dancing on all Hindi film songs no matter how crappy they were.
Ergo, I was now and then lectured on how new Hindi Film songs (old classics were always welcome) polluted the young minds of young Bengalis with nonsense music and even more nonsense lyrics. Did I care? Naaah! They were- "COOL". After all, my friends and school mates loved them, and they knew better and moreover I had to fit in, didn't I?

Dad taught me to read and write in Bangla during summer vacations. Vacations meant; no schools, no books, no studies of any kind. Vacations meant; only play and TV, in short "FUN". But sadly, when all my friends took full advantage of the two month long vacations, I, much to my chagrin, gave one hour to Bangla lessons, every day. My young mind used to s.c.r.e.a.m: *Why on earth do I need to read and write Bangla, School is never going to give me test on the lingo? Then why..why..WHY?*
For me speaking the mother tongue was more than enough, and I was good at it; I really was. Where on one hand my fellow probashi Bong kids couldn't even manage one sentence without heavy Hindi accent, on the other hand, thanks to my father, I was doing far better than them.

I protested with all the might of a 12-ish year old. I was reasoned; "What will you do when you have to write a letter to your mother-in-law?"
-"Wait a minute, Mother-in-law!? Now where did she appear from?" I thought.
Knitting my eyebrows, I replied, "I will write in English"; wasn't that obvious?

An alarming question was thrown at me, “And what if she doesn't know English?”Huh! Can it go more hypothetical?.... I calmly countered, “I will teach her”. Laughter floated in the room. My father proudly announced that I was a sharp young lady, and how in future I would make anyone feel tongue tied, hearing which my heart swelled with joy and relief, finally I had made sense to them and freedom was just seconds away.
However, those same much awaited seconds brought me back to reality; I was directed to the chapters I had to read that day.*sigh, so much for joy and relief*
Anyhoo, to keep the practice I was given Bangla newspapers, magazines and comics to read, which were a tiring task as I took 10 mins to read 5 sentences. Nonetheless, the best part was classic Bengali movies. My vocabulary improved along with great entertainment.

Frequent Kolkata trips were not just meant to meet our kin but also to make me love the city and the state. Although I love the city and I yearn to visit it more often, but, much to my father’s dismay Kolkata couldn't be my "first city" till date. Mumbai is always "Meri Jaan".

Gorging on big mountains of rice and those big bowls of side dishes, is not my cup of tea, and that makes my Mashis think I am undernourished.
From the day my taste senses developed, all my teeth turned sweet. A typical bong trait- but wait, my teeth didn't crave for Bong sweets they desired chocolates and pastries. I do like Roshogollas and Misthi doyis and Sondesh, but, I am not crazy for them. 

Images: Google Images

Time did change my views on those trashy filmy songs and my ears are now only for good music. Be it Robindro shongeet, Nazrul geeti, Hindi film songs or any other kind.
And my singing, unlike the majority of bong lasses, can built acidity in the tummies of the Grammy winners.
I still take 10 min to read 5 sentences *smiles sheepishly* and about writing in Bangla, well.. err.. No comments. *looks elsewhere*

Friends have tagged me as a fake Bong who lacks Bongness. I am learning to understand and inculcate more of Bongness but, I can’t do it just for the sake of it. 

Oh! Btw, those eating lessons were a success, now I am such a hardcore (expert) fish eater, that sometimes, I feel like a cat… Meow *wink*


  1. I hear you, girl! I used to hate machh-bhathh and my Maa would try to scare me into submission with her "what-if you get married to a bheto Bangali"! I never caved in.

    Robindro Shongeet makes me sleepy and I picked up my Bangla from "Shanonda" - the Bengali magazine. The kane-kane column, with its lurid confessions was my carrot.

    My daughter is even less Bengali than I am. But I'm hopeful that like me she will eventually fall in love with her roots.

    Btw, loved reading your post :-)

    1. Ahh! "Shanonda", I try reading it so many times but always end up looking at the pictures only.
      Falling in love with the roots, I have realized, is an eventual phenomena.. hopefully your daughter falls for it, sooner than us.

      Thank you, for reading my post and I am grateful for your appreciation :-)

  2. I'm not a true blue bong either but I don't think it matters. If we are true to ourselves, we can be anything we want.

    1. True Damyanti.. and thats why we not-so-bongs have our own identity instead of being "na idhar ke na udhar ke".

  3. Im a Tamilan. Im proud of it as the same way how im proud to be an Indian. No matter what i wear or listen or eat or drink or whatever language i speak, im a tamilan. Nobody can change that.I will Hindi or live in Bangalore. Unity in diversity. Thats a best part of being an Indian. Why not cherish it.

    1. Karthik : I am not a bong in a typical way and I have some amusing experiences of being so... that does not mean that I am not proud of my roots nor it is that I don't cherish it.

      Just shared my experiences as being someone who is far from her roots. :)

    2. In this modern world we all are far far away from our roots. The least we can do is remembering. Good Post. Cheers :)

    3. Yes and also living it in every possible way :D

      And Thank you :)

  4. There is one simple test for Bong-ness, if you can complete 1 peti Illish within 5 minutes, then only you have the right to be called a true Bong :P

    1. Then I am "khaati Baangali" Puru... I can finish a "peti" of illish within 5 minutes :v :P

  5. Haha! I can so relate to that. Summer vacations were full of bangla lessons, visiting relatives who'd go like, babushona, bangla kohono bhulbina! and so on...

    1. Hehehe...and the visits would mean showing the progress of our lessons by reading something out of Bangla mag or newspaper :D

  6. Sometimes it is beyond our caliber to assess the farsightedness of our parents; by placing an "o" instead of "a" in your name may seem trivial to you but today when our identity is quickly fading the significance of “o” can be easily understood - it is your RNA/DNA a symbol of your origin.

    Thank God how wise our parents are but we understand them very late!!

    Secondly, your Dad made best use of your summer vacations – undoubtedly, he is an inspiration to all of us - even to me!!!

    The strong foundation-stone laid by him some years back is in fact the reason behind your vast knowledge of many languages.

    Pl. convey him my big salute.

    1. I find nothing trivial that my parents did/do for me...its for them what I am today. I will convey your msg to him.

  7. I too am in your shoes namrota. I cnt read and write bengali! I nver tried actually:P but helll I am crazyy about mishti doi. A delightful and bong on oops I mean bang on write up:)

    1. Whoa! Juhi thank you...I'm dancing on the moon now :D
      And it's great to have you on my blog dear :)


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