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.
A RAINY AFTERNOON
5 years ago