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What are you...?

'Are you a Bengali??'
I was faced with the question yet again a few minutes earlier as I was sipping my cup-o-tea and hoping no one would ask my expert comments on some Bong woman who appeared in KBC a few days ago. (For the uninitiated KBC is Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who wants to be a Millionaire). Now, I dont watch KBC, and do not have any intention to answer its questions, least of all, when it concerns Cal, and when all i want is a break - a cup-o-tea.
But then when you are asked which part of INdia you hail from, by someone in office, you cant be rude. So I resort to one of my patented standard replies.

Recently there has been a spate of ppl who have said 'You look like a Bengali'. But that is, Ive found more of an exception than the rule, especially true for those who have a) heard me speak Bong, b) talked about something bong with me, or c) have seen me dressed in something which makes me look Bong (kajal, jhola, jeans n kurta, the typical works) and so on.
But today was the best. It is the culmination of my Gujju-ness. When a gujju woman, H ... well, read on!
A: Chalo yaar, chalech phir
R: what was that...Hindi, Gujrati...?
Me: He he... That was Hindi pretending to be Guj, but ended up being Punjabi
R: ha ha...Jat u mean
Me: Yeah! Not that I claim to know Guj.
H (aside to me): D, youre not Gujrati? Or are you? [H is a pukka gujju, 40 odd woman]
Me (startled): Me? Oh no, no!
H: okay, wher are you from?
Me (startled smiling): Im a bengali....from Calcutta
H: You are a Bengali?!! You dont look like one.
Me: okay...well, the view is divided. Some ppl guess Im bong.
H: yeah...perhaps because you know the Bengalis Ive met have nice (voice fading) hair.... (stops embarassed)
Me (laughing): yeah, I dont have the typical nice, silky hair, fair, flawless skin and big eyes :)
H: He heh...ye...he he..no...i mean..he he
(finishes coffee and leaves)
I walk off laughing!

Well, I suppose the cost of staying outside Cal for most of my life **winking**

Well, the point is, it is interesting to see the views of different ppl. Apart from guessing correctly, there is this group who think Im either from South India, some call me Rajasthani (whew!), and then there are those who go so far as to call me Punjabis (havent they met the sharp featured Punju babes?). And now today Ive been Christened Gujju - Aaaaaaaaarghhh! (well, Gujju babes are sposed to be hot.)

Looking at the above paragraph, I think I can safely (**please dont interrupt**) assume there is barely any accent in my Hindi, and now Guj, and, well, English is pretty much Indian. AND. Im cosmo enough in my behavior! At least to confuse some ppl in India.

PS - I should have left the comment button de-activated!


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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
19th Nov, 2005 12:07 (UTC)
quite a tall order that last two lines, but i always thought you were from bhutan or tibet(the land of the thupka!), honest, so that makes you half a foreigner as well, so now you are cosmopolitan and a foreigner in gujarat who is actually a bengali, but has south indian hair and a rajasthani voice and a european outlook to life!.. outlook!?.. (dont worry i myself dont understand what i ve written :D...)
19th Nov, 2005 12:17 (UTC)
have had similar experiences.... am a gujju who's been in cal for the past year and half :)
19th Nov, 2005 13:50 (UTC)
we the bongs
bengalis, in general, usually categorise the world into
maura/mero (madwadis/rajasthanis/parsis/in general North Indians)
khotta (bihari)
bandhakopi (turban wearing punjabis)
te(n)tul [South Indians]
molla (and other stuff that I will not write here) (for Muslims)
chinki/nepo (mongoloids)
phiringi/bideshi (rest of the world)
kabuliwala (good looking men from the NorthWest frontier)

We fail to see the difference between a Jat and a Sindhi, for example.
And we have failed to find a suitable attribute for our brothers and sisters of the African subcontinent.

But despite all this, I find bongs to be more inclusive than quite a few
cultures across India. What is your experience ?
20th Nov, 2005 15:30 (UTC)
just try saying 'Foto' in front of someone dippy....the truth will be out for all to see :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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