Thursday, December 27, 2007


A few days back, I was bawling my vocal cords out. I had screwed up. Not my vocal cords but my exams. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise as it happens to me all the time. Not my exams not going well but my bawling out. My friend, in a desperate attempt to stop be from crying, said, “Hush. 26 year olds do not cry”.

This made me cry even louder (one of those days when you get into the mode of crying). Once I was calm after my friend convinced me that my next exam would go well and how the concepts of protein folding and unfolding we so interesting, I wondered- What did he mean 26 year olds do not cry? You can’t cry and express grief just because you are 26? So what do they do anyway, mourn in silence? And then I thought of my reply- “You insensitive men do not understand what we go through”.

26 year old girls do not cry.

You insensitive men do not understand what we go through.

Weren’t both of us stereotyping? It’s not just others who do it. I myself do it all the time. I started to think of these stereotyping comments I have heard or made at people, and boy, I came up with an unending list. Here are a few, in any random order of having said or having heard.

You Indians are so good at math (well, okay, yeah, maybe).

You Bengali women love to gossip and eat fish all day (well, eh? errr? I never ate fish till I left home).

You Southies know not the world beyond Rajni.

What do these people here understand about bonding and human relationships?

You grad students in the US have such an easy life compared to that in India.

You IIM people end up being a money churning machine.

You married women barely understand the pangs of being single.

You single women don’t know how difficult married life is.

You PhD people are like humans with two extra brains.

You Microsoft people are humans with two extra wallets.

You Oriyas are such boring people (okay I didn’t say this, but someone else did, mistaking me to be an Oriya. And I promise, I reprimanded her more for stereotyping Oriya people than for calling me an Oriya).

You ABCDs know nothing about struggle in life.

You women have an easy life- study and then get hitched to an NRI.

You Biology students are so bad at math.

You doctors are suckers for money.

You men are so romantically challenged.

You men…. You women….. You doctors…. You engineers…. You buggers….. You desis…… You fat people…. You white people…. You socialists.... You communists....... the list goes on and on…… Rarely do we realize that each of us is fighting a battle, fighting our own battles and that irrespective of what we are and what we have, no one has had an easy life so far.


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. 


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Jab They Met

They didn’t realize how much they wanted to see each other till they actually met each other. It is strange how you spend years without seeing someone, and then the last few minutes of wait become unbearable. So she settled with her bags and baggage in the airport lounge, neatly arranging her stuff, nervously combing her hair, and waiting in anticipation. She was a little nervous at the prospect of seeing him perhaps. It had been years after all.

She restlessly tapped her feet onto the ground in rhythm with the music playing in her ears. She wondered which gate he would enter from, if he will show up from the front of the lounge or from behind her. Thus she waited impatiently, looking here and there every few minutes and then looking at the watch.

And then he appeared. He simply stood there, smiling at her. For a moment, she thought that she was transfixed. Here she was looking at the person she has flown thousands of miles for. All her resolve of a courteous hi and a civil hand shake was soon shoved away. For the moment she saw him, she dropped her bags and baggage, running head on, like a weapon all set to hit her target. Seeing her and knowing her all these years, he opened his arms wide. When she was done running more than half the way, common sense prevailed and she started to realize some basic laws of physics she had learnt back in school. If she did not start to decelerate in time, she would soon hit her target head on, and so high would be the momentum (which is a product of mass and velocity by the way) that it could cause disastrous effects which were clumsy and far from elegant.

She slowed down just in time to hit right on to his chest, and the moment she did so, he engulfed her into his huge frame. They knew not how long they stood that way, hugging each other and breathing in each other’s scent while time stood still and nothing really mattered anymore. She stood on tiptoe to reach somewhat up to his height, and stood there with her eyes closed.

How have you been?

Good good.

I’ve missed you.

So have I.

How was the flight?

Tiring, as usual.

I’m glad you made it.

So am I.

So what are you listening to?

Some random music playing in my ears.


So are you gonna release me or are we gonna stand this way all day?

It is then that they both realized what a scene they made……

And they thought such events happened only in movies and in romantic novels…..