Friday, June 12, 2009

Oddly Bangali

What’s it about Bangalis and jyanto jumping fish? Why don’t we go bonkers when we see a jyanto murgi or for that matter, a kochi patha? None of these ignites the same passion in us as the jyanto, jumping fish. Returning from the market, sweating from the weight of the tholi, containing the by-now-dead fish, we huff and puff up the stairs and then impatiently ring the doorbell. The moment the missess opens the door, we blurt out: “Jaano, aajke bajar-e akdom jyanto tangra maachh pelam. Kono baraf-er scene nei. Jal-e lafachhilo. Jomie ekta jhol ranna kore phalo to.” Should we call this the fresh fish fetish?

Bangali o jyanto maachh” was just one of the many idiosyncrasies (for the want of a better word) that came up during a Bangali bashing session with fellow Bangali, baldie, blogger and friend Anuj (of “The impossible question” fame). Sparks fly when our heads, rather pates, meet. Little surprise that we came up with a list of oddly Bangali (not to be confused with Madly Bangali! That’s a different kettle of fish altogether) traits that define the quintessential BCB. No point referring to the glossary to figure out what this stands for since Anuj has the sole copyright on this. Suffice to say this is also one of those ‘C’ phrases.

At the very outset, we decided to skirt those clichés like “Bangali o bandh”, “Bangali o Rabindranath”, “All Bangalis are intellectual” etc and concentrate on things that have not been much written about. One or two clichéd topics may creep in, but I suppose the readers will give us the benefit of doubt on grounds of the blogger’s discretion.

So let’s not waste any more time and delve into my favourite topic: “Parbat-e Bangali” (Bengali in mountains). My thesis, supported by empirical evidence, clearly points to the fact that we, the Bangalis, go to the hills to procreate. The sample size of five cases, closely tracked over two years, may not be large. But then, that’s why it’s called sample. Remember, good things come in small doses. In this case, the success rate is as high as 80%.

Four out of these five sets of (then would-be) proud parents have, over these two years, headed for the hills with apparently benign intentions of spending a few days of bliss. However, back calculations now show that in all these cases, the child was conceived during this trip. Now, whether this was planned or accidental is open to speculation. But this begs the question: why the hills?

Is it the air? The terrain perhaps? Or is it the climate? I suggest a detailed study into this phenomenon. What leads a Bangali couple to conceive there? Or does the air do something? Or is this a problem for the famous Dr. D.K. Lodh to examine?

Which brings us to the second topic. What’s a Bangali’s favourite attire at a hill station? Simple really. Ask any hotel shark how he identifies a Bangali tourist and pat comes the reply: “By the monkey cap of course.” But of course.

Bangali o monkey cap” focuses on Bangali’s closet fascination with hooded superheroes. It’s their tribute to the league of extraordinary gentlemen, masked by the excuse of protection against cold. Why the monkey cap? Simple! Bangalis don’t have the balls to wear undies over their trousers.

The monkey cap returns to the hill stations later when the same set of parents come back with their adolescent kids. The only difference with reference to “Parbat-e Bangali” is that now the kid sleeps between his parents, who, post-forty, have turned bhai-bon. No shagging for the kid in the hills for the vacation. He is well and truly capped.

Once back from the summer vacation in the hills, the monkey cap is packed into a trunk (I wonder if these are used any longer) with naphthalene balls in every fold. It’s time for the talc, better known as “powder” to make its appearance. “Bangali o powder” was initially planned to be a snapshot of how Bangalis whiten their faces and necks to turn a few notches fairer. But I was too tempted to shift the focus on what the Bangali male does with powder on a midsummer night.

He takes a bath, comes back to the room with beads of water still trickling down his body, picks up the talcum case and shakes it hard before spraying a generous content all over his body. He then stands in front of the mirror, rubs the powder into his skin all over his body save the scalp before going off to sleep.

But how did he pick up this habit? The precursor lies in his Oedipal childhood when his mom used to give him a bath and then used to “powder” him with the soft “puff” after his return from school in the afternoon. That treatment even put the most dushtu bachha to sleep beside. Oedipal impressions remain very strong influences throughout life. Samya can shed more light on this.

I could have gone on with “Bangali o boudi”, but then Himuda has requested me to leave this for him to expound on in future. He, though, has assured me that the copyright of the title will remain with me and my name will be there on the acknowledgement list in size 8 font. Since I have raised enough Bangali hackles for one night, I will stop here and wait for the barbs to come flying thick and fast. But I promise to write on “Bangali o Kundu Travels” and “Bangali at Sulabh” some day.

PS: I hate the term “Bongs”. Write in to share your favourite Bangali ideosyncrasies.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On the wrong side of 25...what else?

If you thought I have just turned 26, well... you are off your rockers fellows. How I wish you guys were still perched perilously on those rockers, and I would have still been that young bloke bouncing around the block.

But that's not to be. It's been a couple of years since I saw my 25th winter and the day I tripped over the psychological border seems like a long way off. What's changed? Well, the inevitable change has made my belly softer and my midriff more visible from under my shirt. Small wonder that I bear a striking resemblance to the lard entrepreneur Paprizzio from the the Heath Ledger-starrer Casanova. But he was in luck with Andrea Bruni having a thing for large men. Sadly, they don't make women like her any longer. The result, I wear a lot of black these days to paper over those layers of lard tugging at my tummy.

And then of course, there's that scary bit on my lost crowning glory...oh dash it! I am talking about my receding hairline. Well, even that last bit is couched in diplomatic understatement really. To put things in perspective, I have been enlightened by my fellow sufferer and dear friend (my lips are sealed about his identity) that my sprawling bald empire belongs to Hamilton's Grade 6 territory which really means, in a nutshell, the point of no return. I am resigned to my pate.

However, there's a glimmer of hope...literally. If I put the real estate at my disposal to good effect and if someone makes the effort to capture and harness the sunlight reflected from my pate, that could revolutionise the alternative energy situation in our country. I am willing to negotiate a price for every square milimitre. Sounds like a good trade-off.

Which reminds me that I have traded my jeans for formals. At 25, I was a jeans-clad hack making pages for my living. At 27, I am a consultant who edits financial documents wearing a tie. And there's plenty to be said about tie-wearing editor consultants (mind you, this is a whole different ball game than the ones played by consultant editors like Vir Sanghvi). They mainly belong to the following categories: failed academics, failed journalists, successful trash content writers, authors without plots, thinkers without thoughts, philosophers without vision and, if I may add, men with brains but without a girlfriend. Ah, but that was a crude effort at fitting myself in...and shamelessly asking for attention. Fie! You can jolly well figure out that I qualify under multiple categories.

So here I am, radarless at 27, sailing towards 30, merrily typing away wearing a tie and feeling tongue-tied enough to come up with such trash. But senility has its own brand of humour and its own cult following. Cheers to that!