Thursday, April 29, 2010

The conflicts of being 'Probashi'

It's funny, I notice, how as the days go by, and as I get older and more mature; how I'm being drawn by a seemingly unknown force, to the place where I belong... to Calcutta...

Home is where the heart is, they say!!! They're right, whoever 'they' are... I've been a Bangalorean all my life, so logically thinking, Bangalore is my home!! But strangely enough, I feel somewhat disconnected to this city!

I love Bengali cuisine(I cant live witout mustard oil!!!), I speak better bangla than many Calcuttans(ok, Kolkatans), I literally live on Feluda, Professor Shonku and I've read more Rabindranath than many other Bongs!The one compliment that actually sends me to Cloud number 9 is when people say, "Arpita, you're looking lika a typical bengali!" And when I hear people say that, I don't even need anyone else sayin, "Arpita, you're looking good!" After years of being mistaken as a malayali, a konkani, a kannadiga... ok, everything but bengali, it feels really really good, you know, to be known as a bengali!

It's crazy how my shelves are stuffed with products that very few people ouside Kolkata know- Margo soap, Boroline cream, Nihar oil, Anmol biscuits... comeon, these are very Kolkata specific... they have a smell, a feel about them, that say, "I am a Kolkatan!" And it is this very smell, this very feel, that draws me to them... a thirst for being unique, to be what everybody in Bangalore is NOT! All bengalis, deshi or probashi are big fans of Rabindrasangeet, but not many probashis know the magic of adhunik bangla gaan, cos it's not 'heritage'. But I do, and I'm proud!
I have no intentions of blowing my own trumpet, but I can't resist the urge to show off... and to tell the world that I am a perfect blend of tradition and modernity! I can adapt myself to any situation, any surroundings. But if you ask me to choose, I'm definitely choose Porosh Pathor over Jimi Hendrix; and Shukto bhaat to pasta!

The phuchkas, the wayside chicken rolls, those night time visits to the Ganga ghat with huge paper cartons of jhalmuri in your hand, the launch-boat rides that my aunt let me indulge in for no apparent reason when I was a kid, the excitement at seein "proper Calcutta" for the first time.... there is a cham to all this that cannot be put down in words!

But i've gotta admit... Tollywood kinda sucks!
Yeah,I know we have Aparna sen, Soumitro, and Sabyasachi. I know ther are movies like Dosor. I know a lot of hindi hits have been remakes of bangla(chupke chupke, Amar Prem, and a string of Hrishikesh Mukherji films), songs have been lifted shamelessly from bengali bands(yeah, Pritam plagarised.. bheegi bheegi is actually prithibi ta naki). But Tollywood still has a very very long way to go. Jishu, Jeet and Deb have replkaced the Prosenjit, Tapas Pal and Chiranjit trio. And they still do the same things on screen that protagonists a decade earlier did. Uttam Kumar is gone, and gone forever. We will never see anything parallel Anando Ashram, Saptapadi, and Harano Sur. The Satyajit Ray decade is over, and with it, we have lost filmakers who'd treat us to Charulata, the Apu Trilogy, and Goopi-Bagha films.
With the demise of Monoj Mitra, we don't have thoght provoking plays anymore.
Somewhere down the line, the famous Bengali intellect has been lost. In this transition from being one of the most culturally advanced communities in the world, the community that gave the nation Rabindranath, Amartya Sen and Satyajit Ray; Bengalis have seen a gradual decline in the quality of literature, music, and even education, especially within the state. The one thing we have retained is our famous ego, our pride, which will not let us accept, and then correct our faults.
Probashis are different. We know what it is, to be a bengali outside Bengal!We know its not easy to be the boisterous community. We knoe its not fun to be the only supporters of Knight Riders during the IPL season. And mind you, its not as trivial as you think it is... because for us, the probashis, the little bits of Bengal we carry around, safely cocooned within the recesses of our hearts, it is important to paint the best possible picture of our home state!

Some people say I'm being biased, kind of chauvinist when I profess my love for all things bengali. Because I hve breathed in the air of Bangalore for 19 years of my life. They say I should have a more cosmopolitan outlook, specially since its best o be a roman while in Rome.
But waht they don't see is that I love Bangalore too. Mine is the case of a child who's been raised by somebody other than her mother. Such a child loves the person that brought her up, but that does not mean she's forgotten to love her mom!
I love Bangalore, I repeat! I can't imagine life out of Bangalore. I enjoy being in Calcutta, but I surely can't live there, coz Bangalore is my home.
This is the city I live in, this is the city about which I know everything. This is one place where I colud never get lost in. This is the city that gave me my home, my life, nad most importantly, my education.
This is where I want to see my career grow, this is where I want to own a home, this is where I want to raise my kids, this is where I want to die.
I'm going to be terribly homesick if I've ever got to move out of here.

M.G.Road, Forum, Garuda, Comm street, Koramangala... these are the names I've grown up hearing, and I'm definitely not gonna be very supportive if somebody ever asked me to start hating Bangalore.

I may not be a true Calcuttan, a true Bangalorean neither. But that's how I like it. I like to think of myself as hailing from "Bengal"-ooru. I am an individual that is a blend of the best of both. And being from 'Bengal'-ooru definitely does wonders for my confidence as I move ahead on the roads of life, for it gives me a sense of security, a feeling, that wherever I go, I belong to someplace atleast....


  1. "Bangalore is my home!! But strangely enough, I feel somewhat disconnected to this city!"
    And we who have to stay in this city away from Kolkata its more horrible :(
    I agree with you that, now days its easier to find a true bengali between probashis, rather than the calcuttans!!!

  2. yes, I've been feeling that for a long time now! :(