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.


  1. bhaloi likhechho
    shob khnaati shotyi
    aar maamoni r kothata likhle na?
    bangaali berate giyei chnechaye "mamoni ei duto biskoot kheye nao"
    "mamoni tupi ta pore naao thanda lagbe"
    "maamoni tumi hishu korechho?"

  2. The prospect of un-'capped' adventures and contribution to the growing population might be too much to face, for the 'intellectual' bangali, who's often seen blaming the country's state on the overwhelming population. So, sets in the denial with the 'maanki (pun not intended)-tupi'. And, yes, the mountains surely get the juices flowing in a bangali.

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  4. As much as i feel the urge to put in a few words myself, I would not sway from my stand...even after taking all these... uhm...'problems' into account, I'll still say we are the greatest race under the sun!!!

  5. @HeartRounder: A necesary aspect of the aNtel bangali is to criticise bangali kaalchaar only (for no other kaalchaar exists for her/him)

  6. I am going to need stitches today...this post was that funny !!
    And Aritro, you missed another thing about Bangalis at mountains. Imagine this: Bangali in monkey cap waiting at Tiger Hills for the Kanchenjunga to open up, the clouds move after hours and the glorious sight comes up...the Bangali bhodrolok is seen picking food from between his teeth and telling the missus, "Shunle, kal rattire hotel er machh ta borof er chhilo. Shala shuwor er bachha gulo ato poysha nichhe, akta bhalo jyanto machh dite parena? Kono taste peyechile kalker machhe?"

    Oh, and another very bengali thing I have learnt in the omnipresent monkey cap in the hills, there is a way to identify Bangalis on Goa beaches. Big pot bellies (sorry !), brown Rupa briefs to replace that swimming trunk, gamchha on head to keep away the sun, and carrying the wife's purse as wife says "Ekhane ektu nuliya rakhte parena? Babushona ke ki kore eka chhari bolo to?" and the husband replies with a grunt. Why? Because he is watching the topless treasures on the beach...!!

    So there.

  7. hahaha. Loved the post. The comments were as funny. Bangali aar shorsher tel niye next likho.

  8. Loved this post...after some Maach Bhaat, would you like to highlight the "Burp" episode, that becomes almost invincible after a beral dingono bhaat with sorse maach on some sunday afternoon.

  9. 'Bangali o bedding'- though this is a fossil of a phenomenon now, barely one and a half decade ago a 'bangali' on tour was never seen without a holdall carrying his blankets, pillows and mattress. This gave him the unique privilege of making a bed bang at the heart of some busy station on the occasion of the training running late. He would spread it and help his kid/wife lie down while he kept watch of his laagage

  10. 'Bangali o ambol'- the chronic acidity that haunts every grown up Bangali under the sun. Unfortunately, they have not been blessed with something as grand like the limphosarcoma of the liver (ref. Anand); only acidity. Every Bangali household medicine box contains unthinkable amount of gelusil and zintac which they happily munch on after every single meal.

  11. loved your post... reflects the true spirit of bangalis... who love to criticize their own race... but really its too good....waiting for Bangali o Kundu Travels and Bangali at Sulabh!!!

  12. Too good! If that makes Bengalis have a hearty laugh over themselves and changes their profile.

  13. Hahahaha. Incredible.
    Might I suggest 'Bangali o babu/babai/bablu/biltu.' Almost every bangali male has been called one of these names at least once.

    Also, bangali o boudir hotel. Every tourist spot in India I have been to has been infested with these bhaat-dal er dokan. And bangalis would go there in droves and have bhaat-aloo post, turning up their collective noses at the local cuisine. :P

  14. Hahahaha...extremely well written. I guess you missed out a few other Bong associations (a few of these may seem cliched and on the face of it...) like Bangali-o-Lal Jhanda, Bangali-o-jiriye naova(the afternoon nap), Bangali-o-Chaoo (noodles-with potatoes in it!)...cant think of anymore right now, I'll get back as soon as I can think of more.
    Good job!

  15. just remembered, there is also Bangali bhodrolok o Ma. Man, why are Bangali men so godogodo about their moms?

  16. shurobhito antiseptic cream boroline....only bangali... :)