Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Political Bong

Well, re-starting this blog deserves a special topic. And what better topic than the doodh-bhaat(staple food) of Bong culture- Politics.

You have been hanging around flirting with your cousin’s friend when Jethu vacates his seat in front of the television, and decides to grace the conversation with his presence. After thundering “Ekta cha dao to”(Give me a cup of tea) in the direction of the kitchen, he proceeds to sit down in the centre of the assembled. Proceeding to take out a Classic from his pocket and lighting it, he will puff out a few breaths, (en-bhai-ronment, bujhli!!) filling the surroundings with a bluish haze. He will then turn to you with a smirk lurking in the corners of his mouth. “Bujhle bhaya, deshta ebar uchchonne galo!!!”(Brother, the country is going to the dogs!!!)

A prophet-like smile, good enough to put Moses to shame, will follow this statement. In the mean time, being the bhalo chele that you are, you are expected to nod your head like a cow trying to get rid of a fly stuck in its ear. A couple of sighs should be thrown in at the right moments for added effect.

What follows, surprisingly, is not a leftist propaganda. No Sir, for the modern Bangali Bhadrolok, blind admiration of the CPM is passé. So, jethu’s speech will be peppered with a couple of “Shala Buddho-ta je ki korche…”(What the hell is that bastard Buddh‘o’deb doing?) and “Goonda, goonda, CPM-er shob shala goonda…” (The whole of CPM is full of hoodlums!!!). However, being the staunch leftist at heart that he is, he will soon viciously tear into all forms and faces of politics, left, right and center and give his final verdicts on them…

How students’ politics is just another excuse for some baje chele s to cause trouble…
How trade unions are bad, and full of troublemakers, but necessary to look at the interests of the traders anyways…
How the Congress is full of hypocrites and the BJP is full of ‘janowar’ s(animals)…
How Mamata Banerjee is a hooligan and a Messiah at the same time…
And of course a heated debate on Sonia Gandhi’s nationality…

By this time, jethi will make her entry with the cha. A couple of sips later, a refreshed jethu will delve into the fresher pastures of International Politics…

A couple of sympathetic comments about Benazir Bhutto(‘dekhte bhalo chilo-re mohila ke’(she was good looking)) later, the world’s biggest USA baiters after the Cubans will be at work…demolishing Bush(‘ota to ekta khuni’(he’s a bloody murderer)), and criticizing Obama(‘parbe ki…’(can he…))…

It is about this time that you are expected to make an exit, if you know what is good for you. For the topic shall metamorphose into one involving the ‘American Society’. And you will be dissected from head-to-toe, from your T-shirt(which reads ‘FCUK’) to your torn shorts, as an example of percolating decadence.
But it is at about this time that the PYT that you were talking to earlier will excuse herself from the conversation. And you will just follow her on the pretext of showing her the way out.

The neighborhood Bhalo Chele who’s rumored to be very interested in her will give you a weird look, which you’ll steadily ignore.

But then, this is getting into a whole new type of politics…

Monday, July 23, 2007

A BONG-ified visit.

Here’s what a visit to a typical Bong household during your vacations will encounter:

Before you enter the house, take off your shoes: they are dirty; how can a decent Bengali enter a house without taking off the shoes? Now this entire hunky dory is fine from the point of view of hygiene, but when the room you walk into with bare feet is screaming with sand, broken biscuit crumbs from those cha sessions, achar from when chotka was watching the TV while eating, you wish you could scream bloody murder. So as you somehow squirm your feet and make your way in, you got to start with pronam(read as touching the feet of anyone even an hour old making yourself as parallel to the ground as you can: the more prostate the more bhalo chele you are). When you are finally done with your time at the lower reaches of the room, you get to sit. So you are on holiday…the regulars….kemon lagche? Kobe jachcho(How are you liking the college? When are you returning?) If this happens to be your second visit during the same hols..questions vary to… khuub lamba chutti. Bhalo tomader onek aaram. Khokar to khali ek mash chilo. (You’ve got really long hols. Good. You guys have it easy. Khoka gets only a month off). Of course the fact that Khoka comes home only 5 times a year is another issue all together. Visit to an exceptionally conservative family might also involve comments like: Oh Tshirt aar half pant porecho?(with a lot of disgust)..Chule gel lagiyecho? (This generation is going to the dogs). Sunechi okhane khub drinking hoye?(I have heard there’s a lot of boozing that takes place there). My reply: No Idea(fingers crossed even as my sister raises an eyebrow)

With the preliminaries out of the way, the bong-favourite cha is here with a few snacks. The aunty walks in sweaty from her toil in the kitchen, tucks her pallu in and plonks down on the mora. She calls her pretty daughter (read Nilanjana’s post on the bong girl) in. Talk of music begins. Rabindra Sangeet is amazing. How one poet can write so many amazing songs is a wonder. Everything else is disregarded as baje. So my being an amateur rock vocalist receives a few nose twitches and dirty ‘baje chele’ looks. Then the daughter who is invariably trained in classical music is asked to sing a song. The unchanging replies, in order of frequency of occurrence:

  1. Ami beshi bhalo gete pari na (I can’t sing too well)
  2. Aaj gola boshe aache (Literally translated means my throat has sat down today)
  3. Bhalo gaan mone porchena(Can’t remember a good song)

Nevertheless, she has to sing a song, which is almost always pretty good and receives a load of praises. I manage to receive a few reprimanding glances for being immersed in Autocar all this time and failing to clap at the wail of a Rabindra Sangeet that I have doubtlessly heard over a million times before. The conversation shifts towards studies. It starts with my sister. Aaha ki lokhi meye….genius. koto kore chilo GRE te? 1597…USA kemon lagche? Uh oh trouble. Time for me to scoot before my CG comes up to scrutiny. Fortunately Chotka can’t figure out why his computer isn’t starting. So I have to hurry away. The engineer’s in the house. I manage to escape the rest of the conversation which unfailingly circumscribes the following:

  1. The prices of Hilsa in the market.
  2. The prices of other perishables
  3. Why Sonia Gandhi is such a manipulative lady
  4. Why Mamata Banerjee behaves in such an uncivilized way
  5. Bacchara bokhe jachche keno? (Why today’s kids are getting spoilt?)
  6. Why Greg Chappel is such a devil
  7. Sourav Ganguly and his many failures
  8. Sourav Ganguly: The Saviour of Bengalis

By the time I fix the computer, it’s time to push. Goodbye’s and best of lucks are showered and the visit is over….whew!!

P.S: If sorry for the constantly changing template on this blog. Had to do some experimenting before I could actually learn enough html and Google API to tweak this one. If you know how to change the name of the author from Blog owner to Author in the Post page(the one that comes up when you click the post title), please mail me at


Sunday, July 22, 2007

All About Eve

The Bong Girl.

Ever seen a walking contradiction in terms? Well, if you’ve seen the abovementioned, rest assured. You haven’t missed out on life after all.

The Bong Girl is a fine example of a tangible object shaped by ideas and opinions totally at war with each other. I mean if according to fellow Bongs you’re supposed to be this rosogolla in a china doll format with a penchant for prostrating yourself at the feet of anyone even an hour senior to you, and on the other hand, according to the hormonal young male population you’re somehow expected to take over from where Bipasha Basu or Koena Mitra or Riya Sen (how I hate her!) left off (on second thoughts, did they?), you’re bound to suffer from an identity crisis. Ye Bong guys, lucky bums, have no such demons to contend with – the whole world knows them for the curable-only-by-marriage romantics that they are, whose valour in the affairs of the heart are enough to give Don Juan de Marco a complex – I mean haven’t you heard Bong aunties discussing animatedly the deeds of the neighborhood lout who actually dared stuff a love note into the novel he had borrowed from the Mukherjees’ daughter?

But the driven-to-schizophrenia Bong female is a different case study altogether.

The Bong ideal of beauty is a living replica of Ma Durga, with lashings of sugar syrup thrown in for good measure. So she must be large-eyed and fair-skinned (Bongs are obsessed with this one) with an oval face, sharp nose, small chin, narrow forehead and a tiny mouth (as opposed to the fuller variants preferred worldwide), and I almost forgot the abundant jet-black (preferably curly) tresses that should reach at least your waist if not lower. Hands must be small and well-shaped with tapered fingers (necessarily fair, of course). Ditto feet. As for figure, no mention of that is ever made in decent Bong households, except a cursory comment on the general build, for as you all know, good Bong boys never look beyond a woman’s feet. And if that meticulously detailed standard of feminine perfection was not enough to drive us poor Bong chicks to set the new lower limit for self esteem levels, a passion for the arts and a thorough training in Robindroshongeet are the other two parameters that you are not allowed to lack if you have any plans of catching a decent Bong “bhalo chheley”. Yes, you guessed right, there is a lot of sour grapes citric acid spilling over the description, but even if I don’t fit the Bong beauty stereotype (most Bongs speak to me in Hindi the first time they meet me, one of those curious ironies of life), I can’t get the rest of it out of my system. The robindroshongeet – good lord, no matter how assiduously you practice your ragas and no matter how knowledgeably you lecture on thumris and dhrupads, what’s the song request that comes after your hour-long dissertation? “ebar ekta robindroshongeet shonao to ma”.

Bong girls must perforce be enamored of two things – academics and music. Dance allowed, but restrict it to Odissi, Kathak and the occasional Bharatnatyam. The premium Bong parents place on their daughter’s education is rivaled only down South. That’s something I’m actually grateful for, and if they only displayed a little more open-mindedness when it came to their daughters’ careers (for a Professor is the only concept of the married working woman most Bongs are comfortable with) it would be greatly appreciated. Of course, to be fair, times are changing, and most Bong parents are all for their daughters working in MNCs, but late night shifts and tours were still a no-no when I left Calcutta. Nevertheless, the Grey Matter is greatly appreciated in Bongland, second only to the peaches-and-cream matter as a yardstick of feminine worth.

Then, the dynamics of exactly how much sexual knowledge one is allowed to possess and still retain the status of a Bong bhalo meye is an example of that subtle quintessential Bengaliness that one never quite figures out in one’s lifetime. Since Bongs, like all Indians, are born as a result of Friday fasts (no, I don’t mean quickies, pervert), Bong parents, like all Indian parents, never feel the need to enlighten their kids about sex. So if, while traveling with your family in a local train, your little cousin reads out a sexologist’s advertisement pasted on the wall, you are, to put it simply, screwed (absolutely NO pun intended). You can’t laugh – that would give away your pseudo-innocent charade. You can’t keep a straight face – you just can’t, DUDE!!! So what do you do?

Now if you think Bong girls have it bad – think again. Sure we’re not allowed to go out with any guy on the face of this planet, and we’re not allowed to display visible signs of enjoyment while watching romantic movies (“eshob phaltu jinish dekhe shomoy noshto korchho – porashona to mathaye uthechhe!) and we’re not supposed to know anything about sex till our wedding night. But that’s still alright. My heart goes out to the poor Bong guys – dude, you have no idea what they suffer! Our poor darling Bong lads’ world begins and ends with momma. Therefore they are taught to not only respect womankind but to positively light an agarbatti everyday at the shrine of momma’s race. Which is all well and good, of course, I’ve always maintained no society is as feminist as ye olde Bengalis’, (Tagore says so too – “matritontro amader rokte”) but the problem arises when momma throws a fit if son refuses to look upon every woman as the Holy Mother. Dude, he’s a normal adolescent boy, even if Bong, he cannot regard the pretty neighbourhood teen (who, if I know her, is secretly deriving a great deal of enjoyment from leading him on, the bitch) as an incarnation of the Mother without thoughts of the prequel to it. But sorry boss, you’ve already breached the first code of conduct – you weren’t even supposed to look at her in the first place! What’s even more interesting is that it’s never the boy’s fault. The evil girl seduced him (I use the word in the Bong context, which means got him to entertain romantic thoughts about her). And yet, we pride ourselves as India’s homegrown love-gurus.

I could of course go on and on about Bong girls, but the fact of the matter is, Bong females miraculously somehow turn out alright. Most of them are very chalu females, who learn to use every stereotype to their advantage. I mean the helpless act galvanizes even Bong guys into chivalry. Then, she has to possess a fair amount of ahem knowledge if she doesn’t want to read Kafka on her wedding night, which probably explains the interest (that some call obsession, but don’t pay any attention to them) in Biology. And most Bong women are pretty darned smart, it’s very difficult to get the better of them – ask me, I attended an all-girls school in Calcutta, I should know. And yes, to top it all, most are very pretty (a proper complex they gave me in school!).We’re the apology letter God wrote after creating Bong men. Well, after that, can the world help but forgive Him?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The intimidating Bong and other myths...

You don't need to strain your ears too hard to know what they're saying. Mom's lips will be pursed, while Dad will simply urge the driver to concentrate on the road. And if you're the sort of excitable pre-pubescent action freak that I could never relate to, you will promptly turn around, stare from the window above the boot, and eagerly anticipate the moment when everything would erupt. Outside, the rickshawwallah would take off his towel, spit out his beedi, and draw his fists while the motorist would slowly take his helmet off, marking the event with an ominous, almost quasi static motion. The torrent of abuse would reach its crescendo, before climaxing at a point of incoherently guttural rage. Dad will curse the traffic jam, while you'll revel at your good fortune at being able to obtain courtyard seats for such an event. You prepare your eyes for the feast, and sure enough, they prepare to rain blows on each other...

Well, I wish I could give you a 'blow by blow' account, but unfortunately, for all Bong fights, this is where the blows stop raining. We can't call it a story really, since it begins and ends in the buildup. The ingredients are all present- an enraged motorist, an errant rickshawwallah, and the preliminary verbal exchange that in any other situation involving any other breed of humanity would have surely culminated in at least a minor fisticuff. But the synopsis of a fight involving 'The Bengali' is slightly different. They will promise each other a gory future quite vociferously, but they will never actually hit each other. After a while, the crowd that gathered to watch the show will fizzle out as well, leaving the combatants to duel in the only way they know how, verbally. Of course, the arms will be raised, and the bodies will come threateningly close, and exaggerated gesticulation will take place. But aside from tearing each other's tendons in speech, both leave the scene completely untouched.
After a while, Mom will turn around to surmise the scene, before wrinkling her nose and contemptuously commenting on the 'violent' nature of 'choto lok'.

Bengalis are an inherently timid race. Now, PBPI's like myself are probably exaggerated walking examples, but even a typical Kolkata bred city slicker, despite having the requisite words in his arsenal, isn't great shakes at physical aggression. It might not come as much of a surprise that Bengal lags far behind most other states in the country as far as recruits in the army are concerned. The only form of aggression that a Bengali is adept at is the literary kind, but more on that later. It is rare to come across a Bengali who is truly intimidating by the force of his persona, except in excellently written fiction. And it is even rarer to come across a Bengali who fits the stereotype of bully. It just isn't in their blood.

Now I'm not saying that our blood has been sweetened by the copious amounts of 'rossogullas' and 'sandesh' that are synonymous with our kind. Pettiness, hypocrisy, jealousy and a rather irritable temper are equally synonymous characteristics. But we are, at the root of it, 'bheto bangali'. Ergo, the next time you piss off your Bong neighbour (going out with his daughter should be enough to condemn you), expect a copious stream of lucidly worded insults, and perhaps an even more lucidly worded letter of complaint, but aside from that, let's just say you run a greater risk of physical injury in the land of gummy bears.

Friday, July 20, 2007

What it means to be a BONG

so what does it mean to be a bong. If you search BONG is a smoking device, generally used to smoke marijuana and tobacco, but also other substances. If you are dumb enough to be wondering, that's not what the Bong in the blog title stands for, it stands for Bengali. Yeah, anyway back to the issue. Why I mentioned about the BONG, 'coz it is sort of a coincidence 'coz I always relate to being bong as being on a high. High on spirits, on culture, on football, on rock music and being totally wasted in laughter. Here a few quotes from a few first year BITSians to elucidate how different aspects of BONGness rocks:

2006a3ps145: That guy's great at football man. he's a BONG ob. (Indrashish is the guy in question)
Mani(of Dopy fame): That girl in the pink sari is awesome man. BONG chicks rule. (Sorry mani. Had to come out some time)
Sonam: I love the food. BONGS rule.

So here's to rossogolla, sandesh, elish, pather panchali, dada ,everything bong and a whole lot of bullshit posts.

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The Beginning...

(10:46 PM)

Soumyadeep : we should also start a team blog about bongs and eccentricities
rather bongs and their eccentricities

Saurya: beautiful idea!!!! we can rival the demented bong guy

Soumyadeep: i guess we've got enough people to make a team

Saurya: i've always wanted a forum where we could actively expose the 'bong stereotype'..and put it at odds with the rest of insane humanity...
i mean...junta listens to syd barret...why do only bongs observe a black day when he dies??

Soumyadeep: well pointed out

Saurya: there are other things...bong poilitics...

Soumyadeep: exactly the thing we can write about

Saurya: kafkaesque bongs

Soumyadeep: oh if we go into politics, we might never stop though

Saurya: ohh no...we don't delve to deep...just a shallow picture

Soumyadeep: yeah rite, otherwise we'll just drown

Saurya: there is a phenomenon called the probashi bangali.... we know about the NRI ones...but the ones in india itself... they're quite an institution

Soumyadeep: yeah, bigger than the NRI's certainly

Saurya: yeah...and their eccentricities need to be exposed...the world still doesn't understand clearly enough why bong boys can't stay out too late...
where too late is 9 o clock in the night
and why bong girls can't date by bong sharia

Soumyadeep: and why bong mothers are especially attached to their sons
and why many bong boys actually turn out to be mama's boys

Saurya: ohh yeah...why the umbilical chord is just tightened as we grow older....and why no bong mom can ever outlive empty nest syndrome
ohh man...we're starting this blog in our chatbox!!!

Soumyadeep: no problem
we can just copy paste the entire thing into our first post
eccentricities presented as a conversation!

Saurya: hahaha...brilliant!!! word for changes...
but we need to think of a proper title..again

Soumyadeep: i think even without the title, there would be too much masala for the readers to ignore the posts

Saurya: ob no...but still....we can't call it bongspeak or something like that

Soumyadeep: true

Saurya: umm....that could be one...but we are probashi bongs...
i was thinking...something intimately bong...and some other object implying distance

Soumyadeep: difficult....

Saurya: i hate rasgollas...and all other 'bong' sweets...well except doodh that's out about to this...the royal bengal pseudo intellectuals???
not all that great...i know
plus...we still aren't sounding probashi
any ideas????

Soumyadeep: that's interesting
but as you said, the 'probashiness' has to come into the title. so how many team members do we have?

Saurya: lets see...u, me, nil,..well those are the ones i know...i suppose anurag would also qualify

Soumyadeep: yeah

Saurya: so thats 4 certified probashi bong bloggers...

Soumyadeep: more than enough then

Saurya: brilliant

Soumyadeep: you know what they say...two's company, three's a crowd and i dont know what four is

Saurya: probashi bong pseudo intellectuals

Soumyadeep: yup
now about the first post...
usually we should give our reasons and all
but seeing as everything is present in this conversation, we can just put it up as it is

Saurya: nahh...just copy paste the conversation...or the required bits of it...
then probashi bong pseudo intellectuals it is

Soumyadeep: i'll just put up the default layout now and then any of us can change it

Saurya: incredible....i'm not sure if u can classify this as a valid example...but i think this was my very first 'brainstorming' session...

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