Monday, December 17, 2007

The Kiss Eaters.

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.

Yeah, everything.

Like what?

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?

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. 

What else?

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. 



Dreamcatcher said...


Adarsh said...

i would prefer "I am a Bengali too" (which I am not... BTW)

And yeah... we had made so much fun about the 'khabo' thing in school days... he he.

and finally...
Yes... there is no apparent reason but you can't mistake a Bengali.

The Analyst said...

The first part of your post reminded me of an interesting and later, quite (in)famous conversation I had with you long back!
Bengali women being seductive (or proactive/provocative/evocative as you wish) is one thinking which I don't recall anyone saying. It was something which we just grew up with!

As for language, when we were kids and were told by a family friend that we need to say "jol khabe", my sister immediately remarked "khana peebe?".


ggop said...

:) Have you read Greatbong's treatise on the Bengali women in his JU engineering class?

He goes to town on the provocative/seductive stereotype!

Himank Sharma said...

I knew about the jal khabo thing but nevr knew bangalis eat kiss also :P
Bengalis stand out coz of their way of speaking too.. Every thing has an "o" sound.. Like anurag is said as Onurag.. Funny to say the least.. but interesting

Ananya said...

I have something else to say about bengalis, My name is a typical bong name, and all bengalis I have interacted with have rechristened me as "ONONA", which to me sounds like a banana....hehehe
but this "eat kiss" was hilarious


Animesh said...

Wonder what people say to the fact that in hindi one eats promises... "Kasam khaana". Somehow promises never made it to the bengali menu ;-)

Shanks_P said...

Hmm eating a kiss good ....
So how many one can eat before their hunger is over :D....

On eating skills I always find a connection between mallus and Bangalis....they luv EATING fish ....
Don't know much Bengalis, but who ever I know defenitly go into the list you have furnished here :)

IdeaSmith said...

Didn't your friend also tell you?

- They're depressingly sentimental.
- They're super-brainy geniuses.
- They think the rest of the country just about makes the 'marginally stupid' rank.
- Between themselves have read every book in known existence.
- They are prone to abrupt screaming rages that are alternately funny and scary.
- But once they decide they like you, you will be the apple of their eye, center of their universe, sun, moon, star...everything! You will never do anything wrong in the eyes of your Bengali friend.

- From someone with a LOT of Bengali colleagues, friends and neighbors.

Blue Bike said...

Bong bashing (though I love those people because they invented Rimi Sen) is my fav topic :) at our hostel .... a bihari guy used to thrash up a complete group of 8 babu's in any debatable topic. Donno how but bongs seem to bow down to Biharis and almost every thing ended with ... bihari ekkhon gundo aache...

Me being from bombay was a spectator initially... but soon I joined the Jamboree with the Bihari Babu.

One point which was missed above was ... competitiveness of bengalis
those guys were crazy ... there were rankings for everything...

1. Bengali topper
2. Third bengali topper in electronics
3. Seventh bengali topper in electronics from hostel.

These guys would stay and eat together but never exchange notes ... ask them ever ... Ki Dada .. kitna podhai hua ... Invariably the answer shall be amee shala fail ho jayega
and that comes even from the class topper.

Only Bong parents ventured into a boys hostel during third year engg exams to pep-talk, lookafter and donno what for their beloved pupuns ... the joke all around was ... Shubro ka papa se poocho... unko last 3 years ka saara questions yaad hain

Last but not the least ... the biggest grouse even in a big group, if two bongs catch up they start off in bengali ... (lately I've heard people saying the same about Marathis, Gujjus and Gults)

Above bashing apart ... Completely agree with _apple of eye_ point of ideasmith.

@Shanks_P : Another link between Mallus and Bengalis is their love for Communism.

Million years of solitude said...

To start with, I really find it hard to imagine how a community can 'invent' one of its members. Its a pity that everybody gets english keyboards these days,
when a dismally small fraction is actually competent enough to use one !!
Bengalis are made to seem to be an alien species: How can one community be so much off the track of human evolution ? How could one set of peoples be so queer that all they do, say, eat, think, read, write is a matter of perennial jest ? I'm sure there's no one to blame but the Bengalis themselves. A conventional tirade against bong bashing goes by the way of enumerating what all Bengalis have done and achieved in the past. Lets not take that path. Although this characteristic isn't uniquely Bengali. Its an issue we all indians have, that of aggrandising our past. Yes, I'm an indian, and let's leave it at that.
When 9 guys debate on any issue in an hostel, one guy beats the other 8 hands down. Why is it this an issue of bong-bashing to start with ? Why cant it be a group of friends debating ? Even if one acknowledges the fact that Bengalis are worthy of this (and I know from personal experience they are not), this just shows how magnanimous the other communities are. Certainly, there are the chivalrous ones like 'Blue Bike' who don't indulge in such acts. Initially they are spectators from the sidelines, and eventually join in on the winning side. And I'm not even surprised. Why ? Because this is exactly what we Indians excel at don't we ? To enjoy the spectacle of each others' debacle; and wait for our own turn.
Bengalis certainly have an immense scope to update, upgrade and uphold themselves. In the mean time, all those cell-phone carrying, Ray-Ban donning individuals, who think that they are intellectuals qualified to judge an entire community just because they can blog in wrong and rotten english, on internet time stolen from their wokplaces: Kindly look into your own backyard before glaring into anothers'. And for those Bengalis who really think its a disgrace to be one, try disowning your parents and relatives, change your names and surnames and tuck yourselves away in some corner of the world where no one can detect you. Because if you're ashamed of your name and the way you speak, God knows what you'll call your own !!

Shantanu said...

Haha! True and funny when you put it like that. :-D

Blue Bike said...

Hope you dont take it as a personal debate between us...

Shantanu... no one is judging anyone here .... its plain humor. And I'm not an intellectual ( "magnanimous" of you to think of me like that )... just a regular person carrying a cell phone (nokia 1100 to be precise) and no I dont wear glares ...

And as we mumbaikars always say Chaaaila ! yeh to senti ho gaya ! :)

sHoAiB said...

bongs definitely make their presence felt ...

proud 2 b e bong .

nice post..

Rambler said...

One thing I noticed about bengalis they talk a lot and a little loud too, but then this was hilarious :D

Siri said...

now i understand "them" better :)
Lol...good one

Kolor said...

Bongness in limited doses is tolerable, heck even enjoyable.

Diptee said...

Hi, I have been reading your posts randomly. And I love them :D