Sunday, September 27, 2009

A LITTLE BIT OF BENGALI BY MY SIDE…

Living away from your hometown makes you nostalgic. You yearn for those old familiar favourites – the places you used to hang out (never mind the cribbing about the traffic and the toilets), the home-cooked food that you dissed but slurped over, the bookshops and the boutiques that came alive because of the shopowner you could chat so long with, the movie-watching and eating-out experiences which were always more about the adda, really. And, of course, the language – the familiar cadences and rhythms and syllables you had grown up with.

And so, in Mumbai, when I hear a snatch of Bengali on the streets, in the malls, inside some office, spoken by somebody on a cellphone calling up home a hundred miles away, a mother scolding a child, a wife lilting to her husband, two friends chatting about something…my heart gives an involuntary leap and my head turns to see who and my ears strain to catch a little bit of the conversation.

I love Mumbai – no two ways about that – but my soul still jumps up with a maybe-silly-kind-of-joy when I hear a bit of Bengali. And for a moment, I feel a strange-but-strong bond with some stranger-who-is-somehow-familiar.

Now it is Durga Pujo time, a time for food and festivity, and yes, a time when the stray bits of Bengali I sometimes catch in the breeze will merge and mingle in the Durga Pujo pandals dotting Mumbai. Bengalis praying at anjali, Bengalis greeting and goodbye-ing frenetically while pandal-hopping, Bengalis boasting self-importantly, Bengalis bickering good-naturedly, Bengalis bargaining at the food stalls, Bengalis laughing and bonding at Pujo-special addas.

Have a happy and sonorous Pujo.

30 comments:

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

Wherever you might be, however far you might have travelled, whatever your coordinates might be in a new universe, a little bit of your roots keep hanging on to you. Being someone with a peripatetic career in the past and having homes in two different cities at present, I can share your feelings. Lovely post, thanks.

June Saville said...

Hello Sucharita
I feel a pang for my home town Sydney and have moved 1,000kms - but I still speak the same language! I can imagine your feelings are amplified.

Mustaf said...

Ohhh..that looking for someone who is talking in Bengali and finding some kind of "GOD knows what" attachment to a complete stranger is so commong and I feel it is the same for everyone.Hearing any of these "Ma, kemon acho?" or " chinta karo na, pujote bari ashchi" takes me for a moment to my hometown miles away...

sujata said...

I know this feeling exactly, here at shops and even on streets my kids press my hand hard when they hear a bengali word or phrase uttered, I turn and look and most often than not it does not end in a conversation, but the feeling is unmistakable, its the bong connection I guess, Happy Pujo to you and your family

Swaram said...

Thanks for the wishes and Happy Navratri Sucharita :)

I cn so relate to this! One word of Kannada and I jump with excitement looking arnd from which corner I cn hear the familiar sound ;)

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Onkar said...

I can understand your feelings. In an alien setting, when someone speaks your mother tongue, an instantaneous link gets established. But Durga Puja is for people of all religions and languages.

Ranu said...

Happy Pujo to you and your family!!!

Kavi said...

Sonorous ! hmm !!

:)

I cant follow the language. But, i can catch it coming ! From a mile away !

:D

magiceye said...

shubho navami!!

manju said...

I can understand your feelings, Sucharita! Happy Pujo!

Nona said...

Interesting to read this! I have the familiar feeling when I hear the Malayalam spoken around me! Should be "A little bit of mother tongue by our side". :)

Aparna said...

Do not know where you live. I have been pandal hopping and was really impressed with a Kandivali Puja at Thakur complex. The food was also delicious. The whole atmosphere at all the pandals was electrifying.

Mina Jade said...

Origins and identity are important parts of a person's life. Always a good thing to have an identity (and the opposite is true, too: A bad thing to lost it).
Equally strange when one has to leave their homelands - many of my loveliest friends and relatives did so, and sometimes they feel nostalgic.

Sometimes I do miss writing in Hungarian, part of my identity is gone with it. Fortunately I do love English a lot.

Sumandebray said...

Roots! my friend roots!
A bit of bengalee dialogue at a distance makes our ears strain to hear more!

Hope you all enjoyed the puja a lot ... particularly it is going to be very special for the Kit and the copy cat! They must be all decked up every evening

Sarod suvecha

Meira said...

Happy pujo to you too. Have a food filled festival :)

Double-Dolphin said...

Shubho Bijoya :)

Tomz said...

Nice memories..happy vijayadasami

Pinku said...

Shubho Bijaya!!!

Hope you had a grand pujo that would surely help with the eavesdropping on bangla syndrome for a while :)

I do it too, turn involuntarily when I hear a phrase or even a hindi speaking voice which has the bangla taan I am sure you know what I mean.

Vivek Patwardhan said...

I enjoy listening to Bengali language. If spoken slowly, one can understand it too. You are right, when it comes to emotions there is nothing like the mother tongue.

Vivek

nsiyer said...

Happy Dussehra. I visited the Powai Pujo Mandal and wow a great masterpiece. I enjoyed the atmosphere and what with those lovely and beautiful BONG WOMEN IN TOW..

Babli said...

Shubho Bijoya. Darun likhechho. Pujote nischoi khub anondo korle. Townsville e to pujo hoyna tai kichhui bujhte parlam na.

mesoliloquy said...

Shubho Bijoy!

I get what you mean. :)

Ugich Konitari said...

ঋতুর Greetings এবং সর্বোত্তম ইচ্ছা করে... ( I hope the transcription is OK :-)

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks, all of you for sharing/empathising. And thanks, suranga, for the transcription. It was quaintly correct, if not idiomatic.

sukku said...

I guess it's difficult to leave your roots....and the familiar sound....brings back...nostalgic memories...and Happy Pujo...

Anil P said...

Nothing if ever can replace the hometown.

Language is at the core, having shaped the culture, the place.

Hometown is a forever anchor in all our wanderings.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

tell me about it! At least you're in India!! *sigh*!
Well, I can't complain..I had a fantastic pujo..though it was a weekend pujo!!

Shubho Bijoya!

phatichar said...

I totally understand...even though I'm not a Bengali, I used to live near Kolkata during my childhood, and Durga Pujo was something to die for every year..

It's not the same anymore, but you certainly brought back fond memories. :-)

♥ Braja said...

I'm an Aussie woman living in WB, but still when I'm elsewhere I feel the same as you do :))