We Bengalis a.k.a Bongs have some universal life theories - theories that hold the essence of who we are just like the Big Bang holds the key to the creation of the universe. Here is my humble attempt to capture a few.
The Big Bong ‘Boktobbo’
Being a Bong born, ‘boktobbo’ or opinion is our birthright and we all have it. From matters ranging from global warming to the "paasher barir meye", nothing escapes the onslaught of the Bong boktobbo. A man without a Boktobbo is like a popsicle without the stick ! Informed, ill informed or plain uninformed - but Boktobbo u must have if you want to be treated with an iota of respect in Bongdom!
Bong Supremacy -a sequel to Bong Legacy
Bongs deeply believe that they are the best things to have walked the planet. Afterall it took a Satyan Bose of the Higgs-Boson fame to conceptualize the 'God particle'! The legacy of greats born unto a singular community is really remarkable and statistics of super achievers also bear testimony to the same. Therefore every other caste, creed, race, species shall lose lustre in comparison, every city shall be uninhabitable apart from the bong heartland - Kolkata. If you are a Bong and you dont believe in this supremacy theory, don't be surprized if you are outcasted as a ‘pseudo’.Tagore was born Bong and therefore by default generations ahead should shine in reflected glory over a cup of cha and cigarette. Are you wondering about Tagore's very own "Mohamanob"? The great mankind that knows no racial or communal boundaries ? Well he can take a hike for all a conceited Bong cares.
The Theory of ‘Thanda’
Global warming may seem like a myth when confronted with the infamous Bong hypothermia. Snow capped peaks may melt, the core of the earth can threaten to explode from the rising temperature of the planet but nothing can keep a Bong warm. Perennial hypothermia is an integral part of Bongness. You are not Bong enough if you are not cold enough! Therefore we Bongs always try to insulate our being in layers of sweater, muffler, ear muffs and not to forget the much mocked monkey cap!
The Bong is at an eternal war also with ‘thanda’ - the common cold. Defying all known principles of the cold virus pathogenesis, Bongs believe they have exclusive knowledge of the secret routes of infection of the virus - kaan and bheeje chool (the ears and wet hair) ! If you are a bong woman surely your mom has warned you enough of an imminent illness if you ignored drying your hair after a shower. Bongs might defeat many a men in intellect but the one thing that can "kaabu" or overpower them is thanda or cold .
You ARE what your Report Card IS !
Bongs are academia's favorite child. Therefore the Report Card or Grade Book is the ultimate assessment of your market value in the eyes of a Bong If you have straight A's through school you have made your way straight up to the pinnacle of a Bong parents' opinion! You will thereof be put on a pedestal and used to serve as a source of inspiration for younger family members and as the much hated pinch of salt to rub on the sore of lesser performing peers. Extra curricular activities especially of the physical type is of little importance to a Bong. After all if they were really that important would they be called 'extra' to begin with? To a Bong the only matter that matters is the grey matter!
A Twister in a Tea Cup- Chaayer peyalaay toofan!
No word in English can faithfully describe the meaning of “adda” and even more what it means to a Bong. It is a little more substantial than chatting and much less innocuous than gossip.There is no predicting when, where and how an adda will start and where it will go. Adda is an element which in its purest state is not meant to educate or enlighten, but Is esteemed precious for its pure entertainment value and for its ability to kill time. Upon filtration it leaves behind no substantial residue apart from that inexplicable feeling of joy of companionship. Cofactors like cha, chanachur and cigarettes are often used to enhance the adda effect. The litmus nature of adda is highly unpredictable varying from basic to neutral to even acidic depending on the situation. From what starts as a friendly discussion about cricket can rile up a Bong into a passionate altercation about guess what- whether Saurav Ganguly is the all time greatest captain of Indian cricket and mind you we have no communal bias there! However food is an unfailing buffer that can calm any adda from spiraling out of control . In short adda is undoubtedly a key element of the bong identity and inability to participate or appreciate adda will definitely outcast you as a mutant!
Ujjol shyamborno or bright dark?!
You say oxymoron but Bongs call it marketing. Bongs largely believe 'forsha' or fair is equal to beautiful irrespective of how pale and sprectre-like you may look. The more melanin depleted you are, the more attractive you are in the eyes of a Bong.The epigenetics (the effect your environment has on the genes you express) of a tropical location and the protective nature of melanin against the damaging rays of the sun somehow evades the reason of this otherwise reasonable lot . Some would almost prefer to die of skin cancer from lack of melanin than live with a melanin rich dark skin! Therefore to up the market value of dark complexioned women, who despite their
education and personality might not have any worth in the arranged marriage market, Bongs come up with moronic oxymorons like ujjol shyamborno. Kali, Krishno are venerated gods among Bongs but just when it comes to Tagore's ‘Krishnokoli’ , the fairness loving Bongs refuse to 'see light'.
The Ma of all theories
If the Bong comes can Ma Durga be far behind? Durga is the essential lifeblood of the Bong spirit.Breeding in a largely patriarchal region of the planet, Bongs uniquely worship the female primal energy or Ma. Plant one Bong in any part of the world and you have virtually introduced Durga to that soil. Plant a couple more and you have seeded the desire to have a Durga pujo.The fact that I have written this article and you are reading it is tell tale of what happens when you plant just a few more of us than that!
Even the proudest bong babumoshai surrenders before the powers of the mighty Ma. Although he had trouble till late 20th century to imbibe this religious philosophy into his real life, with the advent of greats like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Raja Ram Mohan Roy to name a couple , the babumoshai finally came around and resolved this dichotomy in his physical and spiritual existence. Today's Bong women are a fiery,liberated and an empowered lot kindred unto the spirit of Durga. This is not your "women's lib" of convent education and modern attire but the one the entitles women to hold an individual opinion, practice free will and pursue independent aspirations and stand by her man as a friend and an equal. In this sense the Bong babumoshai has surely surpassed many a men in true manliness!
The idiosyncrasies are umpteen and there are stereotypes galore. However in essence Bongs are a cultured, peace loving (perhaps more food loving), low temperature hating high scoring ,embracing lot that can adapt and imbibe from other cultures with as much ease as they can wear their Bong identity on their sleeves.
As a product of this Bong gene pool I feel privileged and proud to be a Bong. However my pride in my community is absolute, one that does not need the existence of any other community for relative comparison, one that is whole and complete in itself, one that does not feel the push to outshine but is at peace with its unique place in a world of cultures. I believe as long as Tagore’s words and music soothes the mind, Netaji’s leadership inspires the body to tread untrodden paths, and Swamiji’s philosophy kindles the spirit, the great Bong pro-genies will rise and shine. So take pride. Thou art a Bong!