Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dilemma of Probashi Bengalis

More than resident Bengalis, the probashis (those living outside Bengal) try desperately to hold on to their bangaliana. As long as that includes Bengali khana (food) and gana (music), it is palatable and savory, but when it comes to their fanatical love of Sourav Ganguly, the problem arises. And the problem arises with the children of the probashis, who cannot fathom why all their parents worship him. I can understand though, because I am his die-hard fan, but my son finds it difficult to see why I support KKR of Calcutta although I studied in Banaras, found my first footing in Delhi, and currently work in Bangalore. It is as blasphemous as my Brahmin neighbor having to argue with his son about the existence of all the Hindu gods. That little brat didn’t wear the sacred thread, frustrated my neighbor by asking him to summon god to the puja room, listens to Linkin Park, and is a fan of Wayne Rooney. On a more serious note, he doesn’t even utter the Gayatri mantra, a must for every Brahmin worth his sacred thread. As a true-blue, die-hard Bengali, I find this unacceptable. And I’m not talking about my neighbor’s problem.

“Ghorer Shotru Bibhishon?” I asked my son the other day when he kept cheering Robin Uthappa, the upstart batter of Royal Challengers Bangalore, as he battered the KKR bowling attack.


“Bibhishon, Bibhishon, don’t you know your Ramayana?

“Bibhishon was the brother of Ravana, who decamped and joined Rama as a spy. He had all the vital information about Ravana’s capital, Lanka, and helped Rama win. Such betrayers, over the years, are called Bibhishon. Ki bhishon! And you, being a son of two true-blue Calcuttans, are supporting Rahul Dravid? The very man who plotted with Chappell to remove Sourav from the captain’s post?”

“But you yourself say you aren’t a bong, don’t you?” was my son’s prompt defense.

“Na, I mean I might not be a bong, but then, when it comes to Leander Paes and Sourav Ganguly, I am very much a bong. Just like I am a bong when it comes to Satyajit Ray, Jim Morrisson, Mark Knopfler, Robindronath, Usha Uthup, Arunlal, Dilip Doshi, Nandan’da, Roman Polanski, and Subhas Chandra Bose.”

Aaron wasn’t listening. His eyes gleamed with joy as mine glistened with the sadness of twin blows: that of KKR’s loss to RCB and the bigger loss of a Bengali son to an alien city. I wished I could tell him how the rest of India has always been plotting against us Bengalis. From Nehru and Gandhi plotting against Subhash Bose, Raj Singh Dungarpur plotting against Pankaj Roy, CV Raman plotting against Meghnad Saha, Sunil Gavaskar plotting against Dilip Doshi, Rahul Dravid plotting against Sourav, and Mahesh Bhupati plotting against Leander Paes, it has been a long history of subterfuge by lesser races against the Bengalis. But there are sad moments in Bengali history where one Bengali has plotted against another and ousted him, like Mir Zafar against Siraj’u’daullah, or David Gilmour against Roger Waters. Sometimes we hear rumors of Chet Atkins actually squeezing Mark Knopfler’s balls before quitting Dire Straits, but we don’t want to hear such trash about Bengalis. All this bad publicity is a ploy of the lesser races of the world to malign the only non-white humans of this world, the Bengalis.

But emotions apart, Sourav is losing his plot. His team is heavy on foreign names, who aren’t delivering except Angelo Mathews, and the local boys either don’t know cricket or lack the temperament to win a match for their team. Wriddhiman Saha never looked inspired in his entire career save behind the stumps, but he is called a batter. Manoj Tiwary and Laxmi Ratan Shukla are mediocre from all angles. There’s no Ashwin, no Vinay Kumar, or Ambati Rayadu who can turn around a match for the KKR. They are good in flashes, when Sourav or Chris Gayle shine. And when they don’t we hear Sourav losing his cool about how poorly his kids performed on the field.

Has the time come to turn our coats? Maybe support Punjab? Or Delhi? My mind is uncertain about all that save one thing: KKR will definitely lose their remaining matches, one thing I’m certain about. Would I want them to win? YES. Resounding yes. But do I trust them to win? Do I have faith in them? NO.


“Arijit, you there?”

“Yeah, tell me Atanu.”

“Thought I would share something really unfortunate with you.”

“What is it?” I was alarmed.

“My younger son has turned into a fan of MS Dhoni, of Chennai Super Kings. Am wondering how to bring him back to faith. Ki hobe bolo toe?”

Monday, April 12, 2010

The auction of a virgin

why aren't you inviting me to your wedding?

-- i don't even know you that well.

why get married?

--the sasur (father-in-law) seemed like a good man.

and the girl? did you see her?

--no. but he is a good man.

stay away from him if he has a daughter. but hey, hold on. is he paying you?

Sir, I have four daughters.

-- Hmm.

To marry off each I have to spend about 17,000.

-- Hmm.

But then they also ask for dowry in my caste.

-- Hmm.

And the dowry is not less than 1 lakh per girl.

-- Hmm.

Where will I get all this money, sir?

-- Hmm, so don't pay the dowry, stop this menace. And why so many children in the first place? Anyway, the lift is here, don't forget to lock the gate in the night.


Papa, what will you buy Nikhil?

-- Nikhil?

Oh papa, my Nikhil, come on!

--Oh, that idiot? What a horrible dressing sense, I tell you. You want to marry him! Why should I buy him anything?

Papa! He is such a darling. Okay, not him then, buy me a Honda Civic? Mamma is already buying me the entire Nakshatra range. Have you seen Katrina in the commercials, papa? Won't I look like her? Tell me naaaa!



So you still want to get married?

--My sasur is a good man.

So WHAT! You will be saddled with a woman all your life.

-- But he is a good man.

You can buy sex, do you know that? But this woman will tie you down now. You can't sleep with Malati any more, you can't come with me to Kadapara for all the new Nepali and Bengali girls. Why get married? For some money? How long will that money last?

-- I'm marrying because he is a good man. And I am NOT asking for any money in return. Can't you get this in your head? I am done with the virgins, the teenagers. Most of them cry. Every one of them, every time. I've come back so many nights without even touching them. They have so much to tell. So much. And I always loved stories. My mother used to tell me stories every night.

So whom are you marrying! Who is this good man? And who is the daughter?

-- It is our postmaster.

Who, Mishraji? He is long dead...oh, you mean Malati? You are marrying Malati? BUGGER... chhupa rustam...

(as their laughter fills the hollow midnight streets, you think some stories are happy, some incomplete, some debates universal, and some questions never answered.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Save you as a fruit

I want to hide you in this house because you are too good to let go. But there are people around. They will see you and raise an alarm, so you can live with me as a bunch of black grapes. You are dark chocolate, so tweak the hue a little and pose as grapes. But hey, not that, not that. Not a brinjal for god's sake. Yeah, dark, curvaceous, but you know I don't like vegetables much. I prefer fruits, so be my black grapes, wilya?

Just hide with me in my room and let me eat you one part at a time.