Inspiration comes from the strangest places. Sometimes a small phrase leads to a big insight and out comes a blog...
Trudging through my first lonely weeks at the new company Social Wavelength, I happened to get into one of those inane conversations with one of my new colleagues (a Bengali, incidentally). After a work-related query was resolved on G-talk, he asked me if I had had lunch. It was just past lunchtime. How nice of him. Hoping I'd be offered some company, I answered, "Yes, thank you. Anyway, it's a one-chapati, eat alone affair...gets done in 5 minutes..." But a Bong that he was, the picked the food cue! "One chapati!? But you are a Bong..."
"I am an overweight Bong!" I interjected.
"LOL...but you must have Rui maacher jhol with bhaat and begoon bhaja..." he trailed off. He was clearly interested in food. But I was interested in my little joke. But wait, it isn't really a joke...
Or maybe it is. Sadly the joke is on us Bongs...as a race. The adjective 'overweight' pretty much sits 'unprettily' on most of us. Only those plagued by the showbiz or genetics are exceptions. Sure enough the likes of Bipasha Basu and Koena Mitra and Raima Sen make up the league of Bong bombshells. But the rest of us are more like bomb-swells.
The love of food is definitely part of a Bong's DNA. There can be no other explanation for this insane obsession we have for food. With five meals on a regular day and even more on jonmodins, beyays, annoprashons, pujos, and even shraddhos, an average Bengali lives to eat.
Perhaps the probashis will beg to differ, but a typical meshomoshai will begin a typical day by going to a typical baajaar, wearing a typical shaart-paanjaabi, carrying a typical tholay in his hand. The shopping list, then the bag, then the kitchen and finally the meal will consist of two bhaajaas, one dal, one shukto, two torkaris, one maacher jhol (and definitely mangsho on a Sunday or an occasion), one chaatni, and then some doi or mishti. Phew! The subsequent between-meal meals may consist of shingara, kochuri, chop, porota, roll, muri-maakha or the many other delights roadside kiosks and sweet shops have to offer. And the day ends with a dinner that must compete with the lunch on all counts. Honest!
The probashi that I am, I had forgotten that this is the norm and hence the expectation of a typical Bong when he is invited for a meal. So when I offered a 3-course lunch I had laboured over all day to a relative from Kolkata, I was met with some palpable disapproval about the lack of variety. I think I would have died of shame had I accepted my MIL's very well meaning advice of serving a one-dish meal!
But I'm alive here and the relatives are back in the heartland of the feisty foodies who spend most of their time, money and energy on food. No wonder there's only one Subroto Roy (bet he doesn't fancy food very much). How can Bongs succeed in business if all they do is eat, eat (No, Bongs don't waste money on liquids) and make merry? But with precious little left after 'foodorgies', merry-making for most moddhobittos is restricted to an annual trip to Puri or Digha...
It's a pity their famous brains fall behind their famous-er appetites.