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To Bengali

Sometimes when I read Bengali, it brings a smile to my face. After reading English everywhere, and hindi occasionally, surrounded by Gujarati and Marathi and splattering of Tamil and Telegu, Bengali suddenly brings to me the sweetness of the language, and the inherent poeticness of it.

The few times when I talk pure Bengali with my family, some words come up for which I cannot find a substitute in another language. Some others come up that seem archaic in Hindi, yet so commonplace in Bengali. The best part of course, is when I go to read something online in a Bengali newspaper. Sure the English version is what I read, but the reporting style still remains different. A slice of reporting from an era gone by where headlines were important and somehow, lyrical.

As I browsed and happened upon a Bengali site, I took the unusual step and opened it in office. Somehow Bengalis are unable to separate the poets out of them, and that in itself brings out a beauty in the language, something I have not noticed on others. Melodrama is part of the Bengali life, and everything has to be more serious and have higher emphasis than ever. And what better way to convey that than by grandiose language?

So going to a Durga Puja site, the captions are not something as simplistic as ‘Devi ka Visarjan’ or ‘Immersion of the Goddess’, but a phrase: Shoonya se Shoonya: puja ke kolahal mein mila hua hai nishabd, ekaki’. And the beauty of the caption is not just the caption, not the short one-liner, not the ‘antel pana’ as a Bengali would call it, but the normalcy of it all. That this is acceptable normal behavior. To write anything less would be pitiful, an unusual occurrence and of course, a sad lack of communication talent in the people who handle the page.

Is it a wonder then, that so many Bengalis have emerged as authors known for their descriptive proses? Not to me. The Bengali language itself apart from being sweet to hear, is sweetly handled. The directness of English or the technicality of Hindi may be missing from it, but it is a delight to read and hear and I feel bad for those who cannot savour its sweetness.

*antlami (आँत्लामी)/ antel-pana is the over-zealous behavior as witnessed by scholars or teachers or even, say, geeks. But then antels are ‘poets’ of a sort. If you can imagine the behavior of a kurta pajama clad man with a jhola for a bag, and thick glasses and plastered hair, talking lyrically or talking extremely seriously on economics/ world crisis/ politics/ global warming/ etc., you have identified an antel (आँतेल).

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
3rd Oct, 2009 04:54 (UTC)
:D well it is sweet and justifies the grandness of event and conveys its significance. i can not comment on bangla but I can just share my view on gujarati - my native tongue. Stark Contrast to Bengali, I find Gujju newspapers grossly lacking in that depth of literacy.. may be its my own confusion in the grasp of the language as Gujarati, itself is a very harsh language, its loud and its direct. Hindi, is very cultured with muglai influence. English is much more structured. After learning in HIndi and then reading most of my books in english, probably i m far removed from gujarati to enjoy it in its own right. :)
But bottomline is - the phrase, " Shoonya se Shoonya.." opens up thinking in readers mind and if this what a common man reads daily then it is understandable that literature runs deep in Bengal. :D
15th Oct, 2009 09:37 (UTC)
so in the same vein. can we get ur interpretation of the bengali word Neakka? ;)
20th Oct, 2009 08:49 (UTC)
You just have to know MoonMoon Sen to get the feel of a Naeka. No words can describe it.
27th Dec, 2009 11:48 (UTC)
(Directed here by Raja/Rex :D)

I have to say the little footnote on antlami made me giggle. Mostly because I'm a student at Jadavpur University and have to encounter that word so very often. XD And oh, naekami. I'm still trying to find a suitable English equivalent for that one.
28th Dec, 2009 05:14 (UTC)
Rest assured, there is none.
Im an ex-Presi. Imagine how much 'Antlami' I had to encounter
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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