Who or What am I?
April 13, 2010
Bengali, Bong, Kolkata
Well before I delve further into the question let me talk about how I came upon this question in first place. While post hopping I ran into a post “What or Who is a Bong ?” which ultimately lead to a post “The Bong“. These two are posts which describe in detail what does the term “Bong” actually mean. While reading the posts sometimes I was nodding cheeringly though mostly it seemed the posts were very dated because whatever the characterics of a “Bong” mentioned in there are true but it was something the so called “Bong” used to be many years back. Then I found that one of the post was 4 years old and the posts were written by probasis( expat Bengalis). This fact gave way to the question Who or What am I?
In my earlier posts I have mentioned that I was born in Hyderabad and spent my early childhood there and then spent 18 years in Kolkata and now staying in Bangalore for last 4 years. So before I go about the actual question let me quote from one of the posts above
“There are two kinds of Bengalis that I know. Probashi or Expatriate Bangalees, a fairly large and diverse group about which I can’t write as I am one of them.
And Bengalees who are from Kolkata. This group is incorrectly known as Bongs, as they are merely a subset.”
Isn’t it a strange classification but thats how we Bengalis are ‘quite strange’. Actually there is a clear distinction between the two mindsets which probably can’t be explained to anyone other than Bengali.
Now going by the above definations where do you think I fit because I have grown up in Bengal but now live outside. You would say a probasi but I really hate to be called that. No I don’t have anything against the expat Bengalis but simply I don’t want to be labeled one. There is another term in Bengali which is onabasi (non resident), I think this one suits me perfect as of now till I switch to any one of the camps 😛 …( after living outside for quite sometime one becomes a probasi)
PS: As far as my information goes the term “Bong” was initially coined by expatriate Bengalis and I first came across the term in English newspapers referring to bollywood actresses who are Bengalis as “Bong beauty”.