WHEN MY HEART SINGS BONG BONG — Part 1
Everytime I watch a movie which tries to wake and shake my Bong connection, from Parineeta to Piku, even some Hollywood ones like Namesake, I feel something banging inside my head or should I say ‘bonging’ to write about my childhood well spent in the Bengali Para (neighbourhood).
I was born to Himachali parents but leaving aside the biological aspect I am emotionally a potpourri of a Bengali, a Bihari and a Himachali all mishmashed into what I am today.
I left the place in 1982 after my tenth grade only to visit the place during vacations. My parents shifted to Himachal in 1996. Still holding on to the cord, I last visited the place with my sons in 2008.
As I seep myself in the memories of my Bengali neighbourhood, I can as if make myself glide through this slide show…..
A mini Bengal
We grew up to the blowing of conch shells marking the Sandhya (evening prayers) time, Ulu Dhvani (sound made by a group of women) during marriages and Alponas made with the swish of fingers . One furniture piece found in all the Bengali homes which really fascinated me was the Alna (rack to hang clothes). My mom who is 79 still vouches by her Keo Karpin hair oil and Boroline cream, products which have been promoted by Bengalis since time immemorial . She carries this tiny Bengal with her wherever she goes and now her sons take care to replenish her stocks timely.
Mom & her mini bengal
Eat! Eat! And be merry!
For us, the Non-Benigali kids in the colony, it was not surprising when one of our neighbourhood Kaki (aunt) would yell out to the kids playing out “Tora roohafza khabi?” (literally translated to “Do you want to eat roohafza?”). We would run almost falling over each other for our drinks. Leave aside the eating your drinks part, I loved the Kansa (bronze) glass in which it was served.
Kansa (bronze) glass
Here I am sharing a post from Facebook which drowns me in tears of joy everytime I read this nostalgic word, which wraps up so many verbs into one i.e ‘Khabo’.
Lol for my Bong friends. :) :)
Bongs are quintessential food lovers that no one can deny. My day starts and ends with food, and my bong origin is only to be blamed for that!
Amra Shorbobhukh (We eat everything!)
Amra Jol Khai (We eat water.)
Abar amra Hawa o khai (We eat air!)
Amra Cigarette khai (We eat cigarettes!)
Abar amra Mod o khai (We eat Alcoholic drinks!)
Amra Lyadh Khai (We “eat” Laziness, or rather laziness eats us!)
Amra Himshim Khai (How do I translate this one? This is what we say when we are going crazy with multiple things that is beyond our capacity to handle.)
Abar amra Khaabi o Khai (God help me now…this is when we are in the water and unable to swim!)
Amra Loker Matha Khai (We eat others’ head!)
Amra Bhimri Khai (Ok, this means we are suffering from epilepsy…now can you beat that?!)
Amra Case o khai (Sorry, can’t translate this one)
Amra Baansh o khai (Beyond translation)
Amra Palti khai (When we change sides)
Amra bishom o khai (hiccups)
So you see, it is no wonder that majority of Bongs have protruding bellies — after all we eat so many things that cannot be digested at all!
Thanks to the kind soul, Jayati my Bengali friend from school who shared this.
All for the Namesake
All my Bengali friends had a Daak naam (nickname) and a Bhalo naam (good name). So we had Khokhon, Bapi Tuktuk and Jhontu to name a few. There were two sisters Ithu and Mithu, another pair Munmun and Tuntun whose names were so oozing with love that they were always spoken as a pair. Like I would tell my mom “I am going to IthuMithu’s house”.These pet names outshone the formal names to such an extent, that sadly I realize now that to find the Para friends on Facebook not knowing their Bhaalo naam would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Many a times I dream of myself as the same Khuki (little girl) running to Mala Di’s house asking for a Laal Paar (red border) saree to dance at a school function to the tune of…… ‘Bole O Nonodi’, a Bengali folk song which was played in a continuous loop during Durga Pujo.