We Bengalis are strange. Social. Gregarious. Food lovers. Corrupt. Morally depraved. People tell me that you cannot mistake a Bengali. Why? Do we wear two extra horns? Do we talk a lot? I don’t know- says a friend. When you see a Bengali, you’ve got to know it is a Bengali. Okay, that was very intuitive. Not that it helped a lot. Often I have been told about half-cooked ideas of Bengali women being very proactive, with huge eyes and dusky complexions and luscious figures. Not that it helped a lot to boost me up. Then they said Bengali men loved to be dominated by the women folk at home and seldom had a mind or a voice of their own at home. This angered me further, because this was stereotyping. Although sometimes, interaction with the men folk in the friend circle had somewhat confirmed this. But then again, it is one thing to live with a notion, and another thing to vocalize it.
Would you want to marry a Bengali? Asked a non-bengali friend in hush tones at a party. He was expecting a rebuff, a rebuke, like he must have been used to with every Bengali chick now. I looked around me and whispered in equally hushed tones- “No way !!! I have heard they are quite boring !”
And then we had laughed, my laughter borne out of guilt for having such an opinion about my own people. So tell me what Bengali people are like, asked my friend. The ice had been broken long back with the confession of not wanting to marry a Bengali, and the conversation had taken a somewhat humorous tone. I thought hard.
They are complete foodies.
They like to talk a lot.
They make friends everywhere. Strong networking skills, you see.
Umm……… oh yeah. They eat everything.
So you said. They are foodies.
No, not that way. They eat everything.
Everything? My friend looked somewhat amused.
Like, they eat food. Everything. Fish. Meat. Eggs. Rice. Dal. Vegetables. Everything.
Oh wow !!!
Yeah, and even Bengali Brahmins are meat eaters. They eat everything, unless they are into Manekaism and animal rights kinda things.
And what else do they eat?
At this point I realized that it would be unfair to carry on the whole conversation as “they”. Who was I talking about? I myself was a Bengali too. So I decided to be politically correct here.
So we eat everything. We eat water. And we eat drinks.
My friend looked confused.
The colloquial Bengali language has no concept of drinking. We eat everything.
Even water. We say, jol khabo, which roughly translates to- “I’ll eat water”.
My friend looked amused. What else do you eat?
I thought hard. We eat cigarettes.
Cigarettes? As in crush them and chew them?
Hell no, we smoke cigarettes, but when we say that in Bengali, we again say, cigarette khabo, which means I’ll eat a cigarette.
Yeah, it goes with cigarettes, beedi, alcohol, everything.
Wow. What anything else you eat?
Umm… that’s pretty much it. I thought hard. No wait, we eat something else.
Umm… I don’t know how to say this, it is kinda embarrassing.
Umm…. We eat a kiss..
What? Holy…. My friend started to roll on the floor laughing even before he had completed his words. What the…..
Well, yeah, I squirmed uncomfortably. You see, we say, ami chumu khabo, which roughly translated into English sounds like, “I’ll eat you a kiss”.
With this, I too started to roll on the floor laughing, so funny it sounded. You were right indeed. We Bengali people are the weirdest people. We even eat kisses. I just wonder if this is what makes us the epitomes of romanticists. Good food for thought.