on this fabulous post on Bong Identity by no other than the GreatBong himself ~
(Another priceless piece on The Bengali Identity can be found here)
This is for all the proud Bongs and those who can have a hearty laugh at themselves..
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. However, this is the only group which matters. Gokhale told of them, long years back, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” To which Rene Descartes responded, “I think (today), therefore I am (Bengali).” Like all other Nobel Prize Winners, Oscar Awardees and most successful Indian cricket captains, Rene Descartes was also a Bong (this fact is not known outside of Kolkata).
The Bong has a large head, glasses, glistening hair and dark skin. Older Bongs develop an ample stomach to balance their large heads. This happens by the age of 25. They smell of Keo Karpin or shorsher teil (mustard oil). The average life expectancy is 65 years. What is even more impressive is what they do in those years. Outside Kolkata, regardless of weather, sex or age, Bongs can be seen in Monkey Caps. This is a must-have accessory as well as a sign to recognize other Bongs. The Bongling can often be recognised in either over-sized or under-sized school uniforms. The Bong mother’s second biggest fear (See diet for the biggest one) is that the “porer bochor o lomba hoye gele abar notun skirt kinte hobe!!” or “Next year, if you grow taller, we’ll again have to buy a new skirt!!” Thus, the school uniform is selected to last at least three years. Thus the uniform sits as conspicuously on the Bongling as the plumage of a macaw.
While most Bongs are born with innate talents in singing, dancing, painting, film-making, cooking or embroidery, their creative talents are honed even before they can start speaking. Frequent meets are organised between infants and their successful ancestors and other relatives. MA degrees (preferably from Cambridge, at least from Presidency or Jadobpoor – Jadavpur University) are displayed over the cots. The infant is exposed to the best of Bengali thought – Marx, Bentham, Kalidas, Tolstoy, Chekhov*. This increases the sizes of their heads and the height of their ambitions. Similar examples, though rare, can be found in European tradition as well, like in the case of Mozart. In India, however, Bongs have the sole preserve on such activity during infancy. Soon, when they grow up a little, their characters are honed in the best of schools. Here, I am not referring to the South Points, La Marts, Don Boscos and all. They are important in the nurture a Bong child goes through. What is even more important are the schools the Bong child passes through before school and after school. Many a Bong child wakes up at five o’clock in the morning to attend swimming classes. After one hour of swimming, he attends tennis coaching before rushing off to one of the South Points, LaMarts etc. mentioned above. School finishes by two or so, from where he scoots along to Singing/ Instrumental Music/ Dance Classes, then tuition (for at least three of all five subjects). He rounds off the day with coaching on either Debating or Quiz. Many a Bong mother will carry the child along through this day, feeling equally energized. This behavior is again not restricted to Bongs. It also seen within kangaroos in Australia who rush along from one clump to another bush.
Soon the Bong attains adolescence, doesn’t find friends of his age (since everyone is competing for the Nobel Prize or the Indian captaincy) and finds intimacy in conversation in his/her parents and poems of T.S.Eliot and Pablo Neruda. When school ends, they move on to the good colleges – Presidency, Xavier’s or IIT Kharagpur. The best of them, though, move straight to Joo (Jadobpoor). However, in recent years, Dilli (Stephen’s obviously) is becoming the preferred destination for some escapists. In colleges, they decorate their rooms with books or portraits of Robi Guru (Tagore). On the opposite wall, men would have posters of Che/Maradona and women would have Enrique Iglesias, thus expressing solidarity with Latin American culture. All of them share equal interest in the Bong-Rock (Bhumi, Chondrobindu, Cactus, Usha Uththup, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple).
Bongs mature early. Critics have said that they grow old early, but that is nothing but old hat. Years of toil and Eliot would obviously bestow wisdom. The reason they look older is because the sole purpose of a Bong’s life is to win the Nobel Prize or the Oscars (and in recent years, captain the Indian team). With great responsibility comes great age. Add to it the chlorine in the swimming pools and you know why Bongs grey prematurely. As far as their mission in life is concerned, they have been very successful at it. Every Indian Nobel Prize winner has been Bong. So have the Oscar Awardees. And most successful Cricket Captains. And Bipasha Basu. Once Bongs have kids though, their mission on life changes. The only raision de’etre for them is making sure that their progeny achieves the heights that they could (or couldn’t). Hence, they are mostly found outside of schools, colleges and tuition classes, with mats (madoors), mugs (of chaaa) and mouthfuls of goppo.
Diet is as important as Robindro Shongeet. There’s nothing that a Bong can’t eat. However, they prefer protein over other food groups. The largest source of protein for them is fish, then meat, and then mishti (sweets) made from milk. More than fish itself, it is the knowledge of fish which is coveted and enjoyed. Carbohydrates are tolerated if they are fried in oil or if it is accompaniment to fish. Luchis (somewhat like a Puri), Telebhajas (pakoras) and Phuchkas (Paani Puri) are the favoured source of carbohydrates. The young Bengali though invariably always has Farex, Lactogen and Waterbury ‘s Compound. As far as they most important meal of the day is concerned, please do note that what dieticians have been saying in the last few years, Bongs have known for centuries. Breakphast/tiphphin is an occasion where the entire family comes together, to watch the office-going Bong male and school-bound Bonglings eat. The Bong woman’s biggest fear is that “Shokale bhaat dal mach bhaaja na kheye beriye gailo” or “In the morning, He went out without eating rice, dal and fish fry.” To round off the calories, Dal is often accompanied by aaloo bhaate, aaloo bhaja, potol bhaaja and various other heartily fried stuff. Not for the faint-hearted.
A few Bong end up being in relationships, which lead to love marriage. This is sometimes shown in movies and song. However, most do not have any such social malignancy and end up marrying the woman of their mother’s dreams or men of their father’s choosing. This results in mixing the right genes for the next cycle of Bongs.Love marriage, by its very nature, is random. It sometimes results is tragedy, like marrying into another country (like India ). Hence, it is avoided, wherever possible.
Adda, robindro shongeet and cha. Repeat. Do note that the young Bong doesn’t have a social life (at least not till he wins the Nobel or gets a Government job). And phootball. the Bongs have had an illustrious history of achievement in football. Every para (neighbourhood) has stories of when they won the World Cup at the expense of the next one. The last time it happened in my parent’s para was in 1986, when Argentina won in Mexico. Diego Maradona, who looks Bhodrolok enough, give or take a few lines of coke, or a few sprigs of grass, scored famously using his hand, a skill which he learnt in Kolkata.Over the last few years, Brazil has been gladdening the hearts of the many Zicos being born in Kolkata after 1982. The only team which is not Bong is Germany as they play with more efficiency and no creativity, which thus not support adda. Do not ask of a Bong ever doing anything of substance on the phootball field, as then the Bong will keep you occupied about Jakarta, 1962. “Chuni Goswami je Ball tule dilo PK ke. Match-er aagei bolechilo, “Ekta Ball debo. Daam kore maarish. Gol hobe”. ”Chuni Goswami put a ball up for PK (Banerjee). He told him before the match itself, “I will give you one ball. Hit it with a bang. Goal will happen.” Obviously, it is also the crowning moment of Indian phootball.
While you may find a Bong in other places (like occasionally in offices), the best time to observe a Bong is in his natural habitat – the best of colleges, the best of schools, the best of coffee houses. It is here that he will tell you about Balzac while she will recite poetry with gay abandon. To mix in with the Bong, apply Keo Karpin to your hair and carry a jhola……and dont forget the thick glasses. Hopefully, they won’t notice your small head. Do not worry about not knowing the language, as the Bong likes being heard more than hearing.
Many famous Bongs have been referred to in this extract. Hence, this section is used to debunk that big myth about Big Bongs. People believe that Bong men can’t be hunky……. …., or carelessly famous. If so, then what about Abhishek Bachchan (via mother), Saif Ali Khan (via mother), John Abraham (via girlfriend), Hritik Roshan (via grandmother) , or Sonia Gandhi (via cat…. seriously, she’s from Kolkata).
Everywhere you care to look.
Being Bong, at the end of the day, is a state of mind. Or, a case of being discovered by them.