যাই হোক (Whatever)!!!

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যাই হোক !!!
তবে যে বললে সব পাল্টে গেছে
কই গলফগ্রীন হাওড়া মিনিবাস টার রূট এখোনো তো একি আছে
এখোনো কংডক্টর মানেই ‘এই ধর্মতলা রবাজ়ার হাওড়া, রোককে ল্যাডীস, আস্তে বায়ে ট্যাক্সী’
আর গড়িয়াহাট মোড় থেকেই ‘এই লেবু লজেন্স, ভাজা বাদাম, দলমুত বলবেন’ এর সুর,
আজো 5.10 এর বনগও লোকল মানেই পালা বদলের তুমুল তক্কো আর ট্রেন ওঠার মারামারি,
এখোনো ভরে গরের মাঠে ফুটবলে লাথি আর গঙ্গাএ স্নান
আর বৃষ্টি মানেই হাঁটু জল এবং জুতো মাথায় বাড়ি ফেরা,
আজো টিনের চলে বৃষ্টির সেই সব্দও তো একি আছে
যখন সহর টাকে ওরা লন্ডন বানাবে এসব কেও কি বদলে দেবে?


Jai hok !!!(transliterated)

tobe je bolley sob palte geche,
koi Golfgreen-howrah minibuser route ta to eki ache,
ekhono conductor manei ‘dhormotolla borobazar howrah, rokkey ladies, aste baey taxi’
aar Goriahat thekei ‘ei lebu logenze, bhaja badam, dalmut bolben’ er sur,
aajo 5.10 er Bongaon local manei pala bodoler tumul tokko aar trainey othar maramari,
ekhono bhore gorer mathe futbole lathi aar gongae snan
aar brishti manei hantu jol ebong juto mathay bari phera,
aajo tiner chaley brishtir sei sobdho to eki ache
jokhon sohor takey ora London banabe esob keo ki bodle debe?

Whatever !!!(translated)
so you said everything has changed,
where? the Golfgreen-howrah minibus still plies on the same route,
still conductor hums ”dhormotolla borobazar howrah, stop ladies, slow down taxi on left’
and from Gariahat you hear melodious cry ‘lemon candy, fried peanuts, dalmut’
even today 5.10 Bongoan local means arguments related to govt. policies and fight to get into the train,
still early mornings mean football at maidan and bathing in ganga
and rains mean wading through knee deep water with shoes on your head
even today rain drops on the tin roof sound same
when they’ll turn the city into London will they change all the above?
we often say things have changed but certain things about a city don’t change in fact they should not change as it gives the city its identity…

The poem may not make much sense to people who have not lived in Kolkata, here I have tried to get a glimpse of the things which are yet to change …those little things which still make me call the city as ‘Kolkata’…

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মেলা (Carnival)

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নিল আকাশও এলো,

তুলো মেঘেদের দলেরা ও এলো,

ছোট ছোট সবুজ ধেউএর দলেরা ঠিক চলে এলো,
সঙ্গে সাদা গাংচিলএর  দল কেও নিয়ে এলো,
হলুদ ওই বাতিঘর তো আগে থেকেই ছিল,
আর সেই  বড়  লাল  ইস্টিমার তাও এসে পড়ল,
কিন্তু,সবাই যে তার অপ্পেখায় বসে রইল|

Transliterated version:

Nil akasho elo,
Tulo megheder dolerao elo,
chhoto chhoto sobuj dheu ey rao thik chole elo,
songe sada gangchiler dol keo niye elo,
aar sei sei boro lal istimar tao ese por lo,
kintu sobbai je tar oppekhay bosey roilo.
Translated Version:
Blue sky had come,
white clouds too came,
along came the white sea gulls,
yellow lighthouse was already present,
and that big red steamer too came,
but all of them are waiting for you.

Shubho Jonmodin

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While sorting through some old notes I stumbled upon the lines below. They were written  in Bengali, obviously I have translated in English for non-bengali readers but as it often happens in translation the soul is lost but I think this one was very easy so it’s very close to the original.

Happy Birthday

Today, 17th Sraban your Birthday.

I still receive the email reminding your birthday every year,
You used to get annoyed on seeing the reminder for the biggest day of your life.

‘Can’t even remember this much’ you had said with a serious face,
And then added ‘This way you’ll forget me as well one day’

I used to smile and say ‘that’s why this eternal reminder’
So, even today I remember your birthday.

Another big date of your life 21st Boishak I remember too,
No! A reminder is not required for it though.

Note: I have not changed the dates from Bengali to English months as somethings should not be translated.  FYI Boishak is one of the auspicious months for marriage in Bengal.

One more thing do you think the first and last 2 lines spoiled the poem? Reason for asking is they were not a part of the original, just added by me while posting.

Update: Before this post my blog had 997 total comments and Now it has 1K ! Yay! A milestone indeed …and I am Glad that it is Neha‘s comment which got me there 😀 …Thank you all for being so generous with your views here…So Now …10K comments ? 😛

Who or What am I?

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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”.

Maa ki Khichdi

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Well finally words started flowing actually I had pictures, title etc for a different post but was not able to write a word from yesterday don’t know why ? Maybe my Mom got a cue or something as out of the blue today she prepared “khichdi” and see here I am again back to writing. Well in this post I am not talking about how to make khichdi but I’ll talk about “Ma ki Khichdi”.

Wiki says Khichdi(also khichri, khichdee, khichadi, khichuri, khichari and many other variants)  is an Indian food preparation made from rice and lentils (dal). Khichdi is commonly considered to be a comfort food, and was the inspiration for the Anglo-Indian dish of Kedgeree.”

Khichdi or rather Kichuri has a special place in Bengali household. Its a “must” dish during rainy days when its impossible to venture out so you sit at home and have Gorom(hot) gorom khichuri with begun bhaja (fried eggplant), aloo bhaja(fried poatato) actually any vegetable that can be fried that bhaja(fry). Being a true Bengali how can we leave Nonveg so we add dim bhaja(egg fried/omelette) as well, actually it can be maach bhaja(fried fish) if available. Khichdi can itself be a Nonveg one How ? well you can add mutton(lamb) or chicken pieces to it. Mmmmm…

Kichuri with Beguni(Eggplant fritter)

Kichuri with Beguni(Eggplant fritter)

The khichuri is also served as prasad(Sacred food) at festivals like Saraswati Puja (mandatory), Durga Puja and all other pujas performed by the Bengalis. Khichuri becomes “Bhog” at the festivals, where Khichuri is generally accompanied by Labra(MIXED VEGETABLES)-A tasty mixed curry of all types of vegetables. The khichuri at the festivals have special taste of their own. But the khichuri that’s prepared at home by Mom is unbeatable, simply superb and this nobody can prepare other than your mom.
This quote from one of the food blogs sums it all “The main ingredients of khichdis made by moms is a dollop of love. There are some things money can’t buy, right?”.
Thank you Mom for your humble Khichuri(Khichdi) which made my day, hence deserved a dedicated post. It brought back loads of childhood memories of the rainy days in good old Kolkata when it would rain incessantly for days and we were trapped inside our homes due water-logging everywhere. Only thing that brightened up my day was ……..

Now those who wanna try here are the recipes :
Khichdi : http://www.indianfoodforever.com/rajasthan/vegetable-khichdi.html
Labra : http://www.dreamindia.com/rasoi/mdvegla.htm

Image Courtsey : http://www.bongcookbook.com/2007_03_01_archive.html

Satyajit Ray a tribute on 87th Birthday

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ray-bio

Though we commemorated his birthday on 2nd of May but its never late for a post to be dedicated to the maestro. I had first fallen for Satyajit Ray when as a kid I had seen Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne(Adventures of Goopy and Bagha) (1968) which was shown in Doordarshan as a summer special program. The antics of ‘Bhuter raja’(ghost king) just mesmerized me. Then one by one I watched his children’s movies Sonar Kella(The Fortress)(1974), Hirok Rajar Deshe(Kingdom of Diamonds) (1980), Joy Baba Felunath(The Elephant God)(1978). Then when I grew up I watched the masterpieces Pather Panchali(1955),  Apu’s Sansar(The World of Apu)(1959) as the parts of Apu trilogy, Jalsaghar(The Music Room)(1958), Paras Pathar(The Philosopher’s Stone)(1958), directors favorite Charulata(The Lonely Wife)(1964) ,  to name just the few. Infact in no time I became a fan and watched all his films and some documentaries as well.

With his debut film Pather Panchali he put the Bengali rather Indian cinema to the world map of cinema the film won about 12 international awards. He was first Indian film personality to have recieved the Honorary Oscar Award in his deathbed. The man was a true multi-faceted personality a true Auteur. He was script writer, story writer, music director, editor, cinematographer, graphic designer alongwith a director and everything else. He had created two most read characters of Bengali literature Feluda-the sleuth and Professor Sonku– the scientist.
I am very common person and donot have the capacity to talk about his works and mastery. But the best thing I like about him was his ability to tell stories without being very hard on his non-intellectual audiences like me. The more I see his films the more I get overwhelmed. I think he became a part and parcel of the Bengali identity. I can keep blogging about him but most of the information about him and his works are available out there in Internet.

I feel the treasure trove he has left for us will be enriching us for many more generations to come.

For further reading you can refer to the following :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyajit_Ray
http://www.satyajitray.org/bio/index.htm

Complete list of his filmography : http://www.satyajitray.org/films/index.htm

Image from : http://www.satyajitray.org

The Sunday morning fishy affair

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Statutory Warning : This post is purely for the Non-vegetarians, so vegans, PFA, PETA, Green Peace and all other animal right’s supporters please excuse, I respect your views and if this article hurts your feelings I don’t mean to do it. 

 gariahatmarket

One of the true Bong(Bengali- as the people from West Bengal a state in the eastern part of India are called) identity is bajar kora(going to market for vegetables and fish). This is a daily morning affair for a Bong in Bongo(West Bengal), its generally done by the male member of the family who goes to the nearby bajar (market) with tholi(bag) for daily supply of vegetables and fish. I think every male bongo sontan(son of bengal) has been to bajar at least once in his lifetime. The traditional bajar kora(marketing) has got two major parts one being vegetables and essential other one being the fish and another optional third part being khoborer kagoj(News paper), misti (sweets), ful(flowers) etc. We cherish this bajar kora lots of funny stories are associated with it like one man is going to bajar with tholi another asks “ki dada, kothay cholen ? bajarey naki?” (what sir, where are you going to ? market?) and the answer might be “na football khelte”(no going to play football). Now I said fish being essential because its world famous that bongs are very mecho (fishy literally, i mean fish lovers). A meal for bong without ek tukro maach(a morsel of fish) is not a meal at all.

The moment you enter the market you’ll come across a lot of din with the maachwalas/maachwollis(fish seller male/female) shouting at top of their voices announcing their varieties and prices. The typical conversation in mach bajar(fish market) is “kire shyamal aaj chingri koto kore ?”(“hey shyamal(the fish seller) what’s the price of prawn[chingri] today”) though you may have heard the price from the shouting Shaymal but you want know your special price. Answer generally is the same price. you say “koto kore dibi bol”(“In what price you’ll give me”), Shyamal may say “arey Sona da asun apni nin na…ei 1 kg tol to”(“Oh sona da[thats ur name followed by respectful “da”] come take” then shyamal instructs to his assistant give 1 kg”), then Sona da(you) jumps and will say “ore dara agey koto kore dibi bol tarpor aar ek kg ki korbo gusti shudhu ke khawabo naki”(“hey wait first tell the price and what will I do with 1 kg shall I feed my forefathers from 14 generations”). In this way bargain goes on and finally the price, quantity etc is agreed and the transaction is done. You return home satisfied with the deal u got and happy that one more day your family can have their favorite item on their paat(meal). On they way back you meet your acquaintances and the conversations can be “sona da bajar korlen naki ? ki maach nilen ? koto kore porlo ?”(sona da coming from market ? what fish you bought? what was the price you paid?” ). You answer everything except you don’t disclose the real price if the person is not any one close as you have got an exclusive deal which obvisiouly can’t be made public. BTW Shymal above can be replaced by Nantu, Pintu, Pocha etc Sona da can be Amiyo da, Bachhu da, Bapi da or Chingri can be one of the innumerable fishes in that fish infested state 😉 

Now if you have read thus far and thinking bong’s bajar kora is fine but where’s the “Sunday morning fishy affair”, well friends have patience every story has a bhumika(back drop) thats what I was doing till now.

photo_hal

 So being a true bong it was my daily ritual when I was in bongo(West Bengal) to do bajar a tradition passed down the generations to me. But now that I am a bong not residing in Bongo and as they say you can take a Bong of Bengal but cannot take fish out of a bong, I have found out a bajar(market) rather a macher bajar(fish market) in Bangalore. Though in this silicon valley of India you have fish stall and vegetable sellers selling vegetables on hand cart right at your door step nothing can compare a bajar and bajar kora. But the hectic schedule and distance has made the daily affair to a weekly affair or rather a weekend affair mostly on Sundays. 

If you visit the macher bajar on Sunday here you get to see the neo rich bongs in full colors there get ek tukro maach(a morsel of fish) to their paat(meal). What is predominantly a male affair in bongo here we see it as full family outing with husband, wife, in-laws, kids, siblings who come packed in Santros, Altos, Maruti 800s i mean at times you feel they are in for a picnic. Bongs being garrulous you can imagine the decibel levels in the market. You need to go early otherwise you’ll see stylized bong women in all shapes and sizes dressed in sleevless and skirts or tight jeans/T-shirts blocking your way and almost screaming “Shiekh[fish seller] ek achha sa bora sa Katla nikalo, dim nahi hona”(Shiekh bring out one big and nice katla[a fish variety] should not have eggs) while their men watch timidly from a distance who are only called at the time of payment. Hats off to these liberated, independent women who share everything equally with the men. Also if you look at the quantity of fish they procure… ahem it can feed several dozens for a gala dinner. So after these self proclaimed Divas let you some space you tell “Sheikh ek der kilo ka Rohu ya katla do”(Shiekh give one 1.5 kg size Rohu or Katla[fish variety]) which you get and also you have to specify “bengali cutting” for the fish to be cut and cleaned as per the standards of Bengal, this is a bonus as nowadays in Kolkata u need to pay extra to specialized cutters doing the job for you. After ensuring the week long supply of maach(fish) you move on to sobji bajar(vegetables market-well you can’t only eat maach whole week), which I avoid as I prefer the home-delivering hand-carts for vegetables .After sobji(vegetables) you fill yourself gorom singara, kochuri and misti(hot samosas, kachoori and sweets) and finally you head home feeling happy that one more week you can be a true Bong and successfully concluded the bajar kora expedition of the Sunday. 

So till next Sunday “Benche thak Bangali, dhoodhey bhaatey aare maachey”(Long Live Bengali with milk, rice and fish[staple food]).

Bonus :  Those of you want to get fishy, Bong way. Check out the Recipe of Bengali Macher Jhol(Fish Curry) –   http://bharatbhoj.com/2008/09/rui-macher-jhol/

Image credits :

http://www.shunya.net/Pictures/NorthIndia/Calcutta/GariahatMarket3.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/co4am7