shrill voice echoes

Thursday, February 10, 2011

LITTI CHOKHA OR ROSOGULLA


I have always been asked about my roots??
"U look like a bong but your surname is Ranjan?"
My mother has been accosted by few Bengali women at parties
When the Bengali ladies nonchalantly start talking to her in Bengali easily assuming she is one...
Until my mom has to break their Rosogulla in mouth epiphany and say “No,I am not what u think..I cannot speak Bengali”
Given the fact that we were Bengalis some five generations back,my great grandfather also wrote Bengali poetry...
We came to then undivided Bengal’s while my ancestors were practsing tehsildars(tax collectors)
They settled in the present Bihari village near Bhagalpur,they learnt the language of the land and embraced the language called ANGIKA, angika comes from Anga..the mythological land of Karna..... And post independence when it became difficult for them to get jobs because of their Bengali surname “Ghosh” they changed it to “Verma” .There were many families like these who form a very small and closed community...so much so when there are alliances or marriage proposals everyone ends up being related to /or knowing the other one....While some Bengalis look down on us saying "How could you have forgone ur language?"
Well,my ancestors did it..so i dont owe an explanation of defence.....

So, when very often I am asked, “ what are you?”
To which my spontaneous reply is “A girl,if you havnt figured out till now”
The conversation starts to spiral until I am jolted with “ No,what I mean to ask is are you a Bengali or Bihari?? I mean you look like a bong,your Grandma the other day I saw was draping a bong saree,you were talking on the phone in hindi but addressing your aunt as Pisi and uncle as kaku”

If I judge that I have enough time to satisfy the enquirer's curiousity i try to explain them my ancestral lineage...a bit more than what I have tried to explain in my blog....
After that 10 minutes of history I am still asked “ Ok...so I understand...but how do u wish to be called now a bong or bihari?”
Oh my God!! Hey bhagwan!! Thakur kichhoo kor! How does Katrina Kaif manage in Bollywood Circuit with such mixed roots!! Oh I forgot she’s too hot not to be socially acceptable...

There are other times when I see that its no use obfuscating the person in front of me...I simply say.."Look I'm a Bihari,hope u got no problems with that?"
after all I can speak flawless Hindi but flawful Bengali....
and I know that the person isn’t ever going to turn up for any my family marriages (which even today take place the Bengali way..)

If its a near and dear friend who has asked me if I am a Bong or Bihari to which I reply “ I am actually both” .... they look at me with that cunning smile and say ... “Oh!! your parents had a love marriage..Its gonna be so easy for u convincing them if u find a suitable boy urself..they so much will understand your situation”
How I wish the above statements could be true ....

The times when I experience those twisted chuckles at the back of my mind is when
I am either surrounded by non-Bong friends who start complaining of how
The bong kids are pampered ..the concept of “Shonar chhele” where the boy needs to get Z+ security before leaving his home..the boy will be mollycoddled and stuffed with sweater and bear caps lest he catches cold..or when his parents will rush in from any corner of the world to feed him Paish,Machher Jhol aar Baiguun Bhaja
The fact that when two Bengalis meet they’ll talk only in Bengali(their aami tumi) and if you happen to be a non bong in that circuit....they’ll treat you as if you were a mere lamp post..simply non existent...

That's when the Bong in me gets aroused to refute back that most reasearchers or Professors at top notch universities are either Tam Brams or Bengalies...
Oh come on!! We have to accept the love for literature ,music and arts can be seen in every nook of Kolkata..
And also admire the fact that they take pride in their language... though also agreeing that it becomes a trouble at times when they happen to neglect the non-bengali speaking person...

Again I cant say for sure which category i fall into....

And the observation my bong friends would make
oye daakh..Bihari gunda(look at the Bihari goon)..and they'll talk about the incorrigible habit of biharis
Chewing the Paan(beetle leaf) with the red slime dripping out of the mouth...and the ubiquitous spit patterns around ...and if not that the tobacco(read:khaini) rubbing on the palms...
Be it Delhi University or any other University we “bhaiyaas” have earned a recognition for our the uncouth and brusque attitude of bullying..after all we have that isshpunk and isshtyle...showcased in the hits like Dabbang
The habit of pulling train’s chain wherever we want..bursting inside reserved sleeper compartments and scaring people out of their wits and forcing them to give away their booked seats...eve teasing..kidnapping
Talking at the highest decibel on mobile phones with LALOOISH accent..

In defence i’d make clear that Bihari’s have the brightest minds especially when you look at the IIT JEE merit lists and UPSC merit lists...We've toppled corrupt governments..
And the situation in Bihar is changing now for good with it skyrocketing GDP..
Having said so much I’ve enjoyed great company with both BONG and Bihari friends...
Growing up in a Para(colony) where the Bongs and Biharis stayed in the same apartment blocks..and Bihari guys pursuing Bong girls..
I love Litti chokha as much as I love Sondesh...
At my home we celebrate Durga &Lokhhi Puja as well as Chhatt with equal fervour..

I can so clearly write about the traits because I have traits of both or as I would like to believe traits of none...I can be a virtual portmanteau or an oxymoron..depends on what u want me to be...
Finally I have a great idea ..the next time some one asks me “Are u a ......?”
My reply “ just log on to http://shrillvoices.blogspot.com
Gosh!! what is it going to be like if someday in future my kids are asked the same question?
Long live blogspot!

8 comments:

deepexperience said...

interesting read... the poster at the end- "too much" ho gaya...

triloki nagpal said...

Nice Read, you write really well - keep it up.
Ever read any of my posts?
Try these two
http://tnagpal.blogspot.com/2009/03/city-of-joy-calcutta_6423.html
http://tnagpal.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-memoirs-of-bit-mesra-1963-1968_30.html
There are 18 chapters of my memoirs completed now; i would love to have comments/criticism.

funky-philosopher said...

gr8 going shrill... get d best of both worlds :D

Ignoramus Scribbler said...

remember asking this question to you once.interesting post again.that Aandhi-Toofan poster is just too apt for this post.killer.

sophoannotating said...

N1 shrill... i vl recommend this post to one of my bengali frnd.. who out of thousands of indians smhow gets one of them and start forcing him to talk in Aami Tumi...

Anonymous said...

what do you look like

Sachin said...

Nice blog.
Though I have one question. How does the answer the the question "Are you a .... ? " matter.

abhishek pranit said...

nice one di....
......same prob m facing in kolkata .......my title is pranit but my actual title is DUTTA......
everybody asks u r bong or bihari..........uff......