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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Married to the mob

My good buddy Rohan had the some things to say about my recent spate of unprovoked attacks on the collective Bong machismo. I have reproduced the relevant portions of his argument, with his permission, of course. Here it is.

"...While I agree with you in most parts, some serious thought into the whole matter springs forth certain anomalies.

1. It was a bong man, Arobindo Ghosh who in conjunction with Tilak wrested control of the Congress from the hands of the "petitioning-moderates".

2. Chakki and his motley crew were the first to use force/violence in the agitation against the Brits. The de-railing of the train of the then Bengal governor, as an example. Gun and Bomb making, and their subsequent use during the freedom struggle, first found root in Bengal.

3. The Armory raid at Chittagong was as closest as you could get to guerrilla warfare. All bong men in that brigade, mind you.

4. Subhash Bose and the INA of course, and a lesser known gentleman called N.N. Bhattacharya who tried to gun run German made stuff into India during WW I.

Post Independence,

1. The whole Naxalbaari stuff, nearly all -young bong men.

2. South East-Asia’s last major revolution – Bangladesh. Yeah the bongs got slaughtered there, before Indira Gandhi decided to save the day. But in its very essence it was a very violet, up in arms sort of Freedom Struggle. No soft "petioning" here.

While we as a race do not readily conjur up visual images of "physical strength or vigor", a look at the history of the last one hundred years, as listed above does indeed paint a different picture. While we do not easily slip into the "image" of the warrior class and all it’s associated trappings, violent revolt and as an extension the alpha male attributes, are actually very much a reality.A bong man for his entire bow bazaar dancing girl decadence sets the stands on fire at the Eden or Salt Lake Stadium at the slightest provocation. For all its marginalization from mainstream Indian politics, Bengal has always seen the most violent of political agitations...."

(Copyright, Prasenjit Guha, 2005)

And like most of what Guha da says, this too makes a great deal of sense. Why does everyone assume that Bengalis are meek and mild, when they have such a rich tradition of violence? A North Indian friend commented, on meeting a Calcutta lumpen - "A rowdy Bong! Now I've seen everything."

To shed some light on this apparent dichotomy, let us recall a popular joke.

Q) What do you call one Bengali man?
A) Poet

Q) What do you call two Bengali men?
A) Political Party

Q) What do you call three Bengali men?
A) Two Political Parties

Q) What do you call four Bengali men?
A) A procession and a counter-procession down Chowringhee at rush hour.

So - have all you smart people spotted the pattern? Not difficult, really. For Bengalis more than other communities, the size of their immediate cohort almost completely determines their behaviour.

An certain Iyengar Brahmin says that Bengalis are fun to talk to one-on-one, but too many intimidate him. Individual Bengalis are quietly intelligent and sufficiently well-informed on many topics which makes them great conversationalists. Even two is fine - at worst they'll have an animated debate (UNLESS you have a North-South Cal split, in which case avoid mentioning football). However, things start getting out of hand when the number increases beyond that, usually culminating in large-scale screaming in Bangla, on matters none too serious, with the participants nearly coming to blows.

The average Bengali is a pack animal. Deep within the recesses of his soul lies a caged animal waiting to break out. The sight of other werewolves is just the spark he needs and Dr. Bruce Bandopadhyay finds himself answering the call of the wild - transforming into a green-skinned monster wielding a mashaal and laying waste to every heavy vehicle on the streets. Truly, the Bengali mob, or Bonglomeration if you will, is a sight to behold. Mild-mannered clerks, bureaucrats, insurance salesmen turned into bloodthirsty beasts all driven by a shared passion for unmitigated violence. Is it any wonder that Calcutta witnesses an average of nearly one lynching death a day?

To use a scientific analogy, the Bengali male can be likened to a 1Kg mass of Uranium-235. If you are exposed to one of these occasionally you will suffer from a bad headache at worst. However, bring 5 or more of them together and we have critical mass. Kaboom!

The Bonglomeration has risen in the past to fend of attacks from such savage races as the British and the Punjabis, who made the mistake of underestimating the capacity for violence in the Bengali, thanks probably to impressions formed based on Bengalis they personally knew. The following are transcripts of historic conversations.

Conversation 1: circa 1858

Lord Canning: Well, your Majesty, we now have to worry about ruling that bloody country.
Queen Victoria: Indeed, Lord Canning. I have no idea how we are to go about it. First of all, where in bblazes are we going to have a new capital?
LC: Don't worry m'lady. I have the perfect spot. Remember that town Cahl-cah-taa. The one that old Charnock stumbled on. I think it will be just marvellous.
QV: Why that place in particular.
LC: A little bit of research on my part, ma'am. The people who live in that god-forsaken place - Bungawlees I think they're called - are a bunch of spineless wimps. Wouldn't say boo to a goose. They'll give us no trouble at all, so its the safest spot on earth.
QV: How can you be so certain?
LC: I know a few of these Bungawlees myself. There's this chap Bonnerjee who takes shorthand at one of our offices - most subservient goose I ever met. Then there's Bose who practices law. Always gets shouted down by the judge and never says a word. Then there's...
QV: You've made your point, Lord Canning. Cahlcahtaa will be the new capital. I can see us ruling the bloody place for another millenium now.

Conversation 2: circa 1974

Gen. Yahya Khan: OYE! These bloody Bangalees have won! Oh meri maa ki ******. Abhi us Mujib ke bachhe ko dikhata hoon, behen****.
(Mujib answers phone)
Mujib: Hallo. Who eej thees?
YK: Oye, who eej thees ke aulad! Saale, mein tera baap bol raha hoon, madar****. You bloody phool. Just bikaz you er winning leckshun, you think we will allow you bh***********s into Slambad. Teri to...
M: Mishtar General Shaar. Pleej do not shwear like that. I am a bhadralok and I am bhery upshet at hearing shuch languages.
YK: Abbey beti****. Abhi tujhe dikhata hoon. You bloody Bangalees will never be aybull to faarm a gvernmant.
M: Thish ij outrageoush. Bhe bhill oppoj thish infrigement on our bashic democratic rightsh. Bhe bhill phight on the shtreetsh. Cholbe naa, cholbe naa... (cut off)
YK: Dekh loonga, madar****.
Aide: Sir, agar woh bagawat shuru karein to mushkil ho sakta hai.
YK: Oh behen****. Woh kya kar lenge? Bahut behen**** Bangalee dekhein hai maine. Tu meri gaari nikal, Shahi Mohalla jaana hai.

The rest, as they say, is history.

So, my fellow countrymen, remember that however mild-mannered your Bengali colleague may seem, do not provoke him in the presence of the Bonglomeration. Your life is forfeit if you do. Do not try shooting someone in the head, molesting a local damsel, or picking anyone's pocket in a public place in Calcutta. While these things are commonplace - and in fact encouraged - in Delhi, you will be pulverized by the wrath of the Bonglomeration before you completed the task. If you are a law-abiding citizen in the presence of this multi-headed monster, keep your hands to yourself, speak in hushed tones, and avoid all sensitive topics.

And in case I have given you the impression in this post, that Bengali men are as rowdy as their Northern counterparts, perish the thought. This is only an anomalous situation. We are actually a race of well-bred intellectuals interested in art, culture and the finer things of life. Gentlemen who watch cricket and... What's that you say? Dravid is a better captain!?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, REMOVE GANGULY FROM THE TEAM!!! BOKA*****, KH***** CH****, LA****** B***! MAAR SHALA KE! KAALO HAATH BHENGE DAO,


PS - The term Bonglomeration is copyrighted to the Punjabi ex of a friendly Bengali Blogette. Other terms are in the public domain.