Tag Archives: Bengali in Bangalore

Uniquely Bengali

I am Bengali – I belong from a state in India which is well known for its confusing political state, its obssession with fish, intellectual addas, chopsingaramuri, its contribution to Indian Cinema, music, its extravagant Durga puja and so on. It is a beautiful state, but who doesn’t feel that way about their birth places?

But beyond all this, what is the underlying motif of being Bengali, of being part of a Bengali household? This will differ a little bit depending on which area you are from, but here’s how I see Bangaliayana as:

Being Bengali is waking up early in the morning, sometimes as early as 4-4.30 AM, freshening up and heading for a morning walk with a translucent polythene bag. The men may wear shorts and sports shoes, but the womenfolk tread on in their pumps and sarees and their petticoats and blouses, sweating profusely through them. The polythene bag acts as a storage of all the flowers that they will pick up on their walk, sometimes over a little chat with the neighbor whose trees they are picking the flowers from, sometimes secretly, making sure no one sees them in their flower-picking exercise. These little furtive activities sometimes make for the most pleasurable experiences for a Bengali soul.

Being Bengali means standing in the line in front of the dairy or the meat shop, bargaining for the best pieces of mutton: chest, leg pieces etc. Being Bengali means going to the market for the fresh vegetable produce and fish, before everyone else had picked it up.

Being Bengali means the occasional fast on a plethora of festivals, to appease the 33 lakh gods the Hindus pray to: Manasa pujo, Bipottarini pujo, Shitala pujo. Being Bengali means making luchi and payesh to break that fast, and distributing small portions of those as well as the auspicious threads to tie on the wrists among the neighbors.

Being Bengali means gossip for the womenfolk as they do their dishes and shout out from the windows to the neighbor – whose daughter was not going getting married yet in spite of looking for grooms for the past year, whose son failed in the exam because he fell into bad company, whose children don’t look after their parents after having comfortably settled in Germany, whose mother-in-law is too quarrelsome and makes life hell for the young wife. Being Bengali means womenfolk sitting on moras in winter, with the December sun lusciously teasing their backs with cozy warmth, as they knit mittens and sweaters for their grandchildren.

Being Bengali means conch shells blowing in the evening, along with the burning of incense sticks and ululating women. It means the mandatory arati of the tulsi plant, which is regarded as the sacred plant and is part of every Bengali household.

Being Bengali means prodding the children away from the television as dusk falls, to their study rooms, because the mothers and the grandmothers will now watch the serials that have been continuing over ages, and also because, everyone wants their children to be doctors and engineers and they have to beat Mr. Sen’s daughter in maths.

Being Bengali means the machher jhol ar bhaat ar akta ruti for dinner. It means leaving the dishes in the sink for the cleaning lady to grumble over the next morning. It means the tucking of the mosquito net under the mattress of every bed, irrespective of mosquitos being in the season or not.

These little snapshots in time, in my eyes, are uniquely Bengali. This is what I know my Bengali households as. I know, like every other community we have our faults and failings, but hey, every little fault makes us who we are: human. And do we excel at that!

Happy Diwali!

So, I wake up this morning and see these beautiful rays of sun lighting up my window and I think, once again, “Gosh, is it ten already!?”


I take my phone out and check the time and it turns out that it’s only 7.30 AM. My heart dances in a sudden flutter and a surge of happiness flows through my body. I keep looking at the sunlight, wondering if I should get up that or enjoy some more comforting moments in the comfort of my mink blanket.

I am not a rain person, so the Bangalore weather was not really to my taste the last couple of months. Even after I came back from home (West Bengal) after a 3 weeks vacation, the rains had not subsided. I would get half-drenched every single day while returning from office. However, the last three-four odd days, the weather has been better: the threatening clouds still roamed about and cast a gloomy glow all over, but they controlled themselves from creating a downpour. I think I also saw some fog on my way back from office last night. Winter is coming!

All those bad memories of rains are now forgiven, thanks to these beautiful sun rays outside my window this morning.


And what a day too, for the Sun god to be glorious! For major length and breadth of India, we are celebrating Diwali – the festival of lights, the victory of god vs evil.

To all the readers of this blog, Happy Diwali! I hope you guys have a great time! I leave you with a quirky song recipe for making payesh, a Bengali sweet dish, by a Youtuber I follow:

Until later, enjoy!


1 year of professional life

A year ago, I was fresh out of college. Had dreams in eyes, but feet were firmly grounded in harsh reality. Having lived with working professionals during college, I had a glimpse of what life at work signified.

One year later, my eyes are more open. Financial independence has allowed me a better way of life (though my freedom is limited by loan).

I started work at Mu Sigma with a chill account and a cool team. Since the median age in this company is pretty low, there’s always a college-like environment around. Most people are unmarried, living in shared flats. The shared experience of it brings us closer.

Since August, when my account changed, things have gotten a little more hectic. But thankfully, I am surviving.

Below is a picture of myself with my parents, this day last October. It is a selfie, taken in a hotel room on the day of my joining. My father was suffering from a bad bout of cold and fever. My mother was also sick. But the smiles in the photo symbolizes their pride in their daughter!



When the Bengali awakens…

In September-October Bengali houses are dusted, broomed, cleaned. Clothes in cupboards are put in the sun. They get warm through the day and in the afternoon, the lady of the house brings them inside from the terrace, fold them neatly and put them back in the cupboard. Same treatment to the blankets and cushions.

The weather outside is warm, the sky is blue after the monsoons. White specks of clouds float all over the sky. If you go farther into the countryside, by the river, you would see kash flowers in all their glory, swaying their heads in the riverside breeze. Durga puja is coming.

This would by second Durga Puja away from home since I came to Bangalore. Needless to say, Durga Puja signify times of great celebration to the Bengali mind. When I was in Bengal, my awareness and appreciation of Bengali culture was minimal. Now, I remember the smallest rituals my parents maintained.

On Diwali, my mother would have us get jackfruit leaves. On the jackfruit leaves, earthen lamps were lit with oil and wick. Every Diwali evening, my brother would light tiny electric lamps in wires, and I would set candles throughout our balcony. This time I would go home just after Diwali. The air would be full with a chill. The houses in my neighbourhood would still sport the little lamps – remnants of Diwali celebration.

Life in Bangalore is different. You wake up. If it’s  a weekday, you get ready for office. You go to work, take calls, do the daily chore, come home jaded, either have dinner or do something on your phone and then sleep. On a weekend, you don’t go to office, but go somewhere else, see some movie, cook something nice and go to sleep. I wish I could break the routine. That’s something I liked about last week. I was sick with fever, had trouble getting up and had to take leave. It felt good to be home on a weekday, when the house was silent. I dreaded the time when everyone would be back and the house would be chirping again.

A lonely September afternoon is a very personal thing. You can simply watch the trees from the balcony, watch the squirrels play in the trees, read a book and watch at the vast blue sky. Not a worry in life.

Wish I could add some meaning in my life – do something different.