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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Banga santaan

I noticed a number of my male Bengali friends had much to say about the previous post - much of it relating to their desire to bang random samba dancers. If you were from another country, you might conclude that the men of Bengal are a sad, frustrated lot. In fact, you'd be right. But give them a break - its not really their fault. I shall explain why in a scientific study.


I recently noted that my male friends - most of them Bengali - have been suffering from what is known as "doormat syndrome". In other words, throughout their lives, they have been trod on by stiletto-clad feet until it hurts (which is pretty soon, if you know your stilettos). The average Bengali guy is therefore a confused chap who, in spite of a towering intellect, cannot figure out why he's missing out on the action that the Singhs, Aroras and Sharmas are making the most of.
On the other hand, the women of Bengal are using the aforementioned stilettos to good effect. Oozing confidence, intelligence and serious attitude - the world is at the feet of these tigresses, just waiting to be trod upon.

Why this strange divide? Why have the sons of Bengal caught a collective cold, while the rest of India keeps its hankies firmly in its pocket? To answer this question, we will have to go back in time.

Reason 1

The area referred to as Bengal (including present-day Bangladesh) has seen much less military action than the other parts of South Asia. Note, for example, that the Bengali caste system does not include a warrior caste.
The reasons are mainly geographical. Bengal contains the riverine plains of the Ganga-Brahmaputra system, and is incredibly green and fertile. Also the multitude of streams divided the land into small self-sufficient communities, each of which could grow pretty much whatever it wanted. These factors combined to turn the Bengalis into a contented bunch who didn't really feel like getting out of bed in the mornings, let alone tramp across the countryside to conquer the next village.
Compare this to the arid North where fertile land was at a premium, and the ruler with the most land to his name was invariably the most powerful. So the Northerners were forever riding into battle in an attempt to boost their landholdings. In fact at the time that the Rajputs were battling the Turks in the Thar, the Bengali men were taking afternoon siestas.

So how does all this ancient history affect Mr. Basu's love life? Well, its like this - in times of war, the relative stature of men, with respect to women in the community, will invariably rise. If the men are forever on horseback fighting for the glory of the land, the women... umm... just hang around. Swordsmanship isn't really a woman's forte. On the other hand, even today, while making the idol of goddess Durga, the first lump of clay is brought from a prostitute's house (one of the FEW things Bhansali got right in that movie he made), showing that Bengali men are only too glad to grant the superiority of women in bed. And considering they spend so much time in it...

Segue to the present and - Reason 2

The primary deity of Bengal is Goddess Durga, the embodiment of Shakti - woman power! Right through their childhood, all little Bengali boys are treated to an annual spectacle of people praying to a violent thousand-armed lady on a lion spearing a male demon with a spear. Then there is Kali, who is quite, quite scary and is portrayed walking all over her husband (a prostrate Shiva) with her blood-red tongue sticking out. And lest we forget, there's Lakshmi and Saraswati as well. Male Gods? What are those? I mean seriously, Kartik was also Durga's child. How come HE doesn't get his own festival?
And this is unique to Bengal. The Ghatis have their Ganpati Bappa, the Northerners have their Shivratri (which gets the award for the ritual most demeaning to women), and there's Dussehra, which coincides with Durga Puja, but where the lead character is the virile blue-skinned Rama, and the only woman involved is his hapless damsel-in-distress, Sita. If you thought that was bad, the Southerners do one better - they show devotion by pouring milk over an idol shaped like Shiva's phallus. No seriously - "Just in case you women didn't get the point that you are completely subservient to us, we shall make you bow to a divine d**k". How sad is that?
So basically, the vagina monologues are limited to Bengal, and everyone else is completely (well?)hung up on male domination.

With imagery like this, the average Bengali boy grows up in the shadow of the Mother Goddess, in awe of women in general and utterly under the thumb of his mother. Every time our little lad has wanted to defy mummy, an image of a lion and a spear flash through his brain, and the thought passes. Is it any wonder he finds himself wanting in the battle of the sexes?

So, history and social conditioning combine to make Bengali men complete and utter wimps. At the same time, the women of Bengal are confident, powerful and very very dangerous. Not even a fair fight. In fact the Bengali women are even competent to take on the testosterone-pumping "Wham bam, Sat sri akal ma'am" brigade of the North. And they thought Turks on horseback were bad!

So Messrs. Mukherjee, Basu, Chatterjee, et al - its not you. Its fate. Tough shit, guys.

A small suggestion, though. Make a beeline for the towns of Haryana and Rajasthan. There you will find women who are still under the misapprehension that they are inferior to menfolk. They have had a different set of ideas drilled into their heads, and are so completely subjugated that even you guys will have no trouble handling them.

A final prayer to Buchuchandi, the wrathful Bengali goddess of South Asian History -

"Maa Buchu, I know have offended thee with my shameless desecration of ancient history. Please find it in thy heart to forgive me my minor shenanigans, and turn thy mighty vengeance to targets within thine own realm of Notoon Inglistan. Om Shantih."