Sunday, November 12, 2006


Born in Chandernagore, WB...grew up in Bombay. That makes me probashi. Never understood why there should be a distinction between bengali's in West Bengal and those that migrated to greener pastures. To the uninitiated, 'Probashi' is a term in Bengali that means that a person/persons is/are not living in the home state and are Bengali's, but in another part of the country.

I grew up in a bengali rich family. My parents had always been big into Bengali literature and Bengali music. Always attended Durga pujas in the various pandals in Bombay. Then moved to Thane and had our own little community, and our own Durga pujas, Saraswati pujas etc. Helped around with the festivities. Distributed Bhog after the puja. Still wondered what the difference was between the non-probashi's and the probashis. Other than the fact that every calcutta trip reaffirmed constantly: people there are lazy and the life is real slow, I did not quite grasp the reason to call us probashi's probashi. Speaking of my trips to calcutta, my cousins and friends always thought that I see Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachhan on a regular basis. Do you other probashi's living in Bombay get that when you visit Kolkatta.

Three years later in a cool Fall night in Florida, I decided to find a 'Mukherjee' group on Orkut. Orkut is today's more popular net-friend-finder site. Though everybody wants to convert me to GAZZAG. Already a failed member of Facebook and Hi5, a dormant member of MySpace and a somewhat active member of Orkut, I think it is enough for me now. Back to the Mukherjee group. It was happy to see that some mukherjee had decided to form a group on Orkut. I later found out that there were two more groups. So, I joined the one that looked most popular. This is another funny thing about joining groups on Orkut. Your groups tell more about you than your profile does. And all groups do is send you a bundle of emails that you delete anyway. Alright, so I am browsing through this group and all my thoughts about being Probashi comes back at me. This group spoke in a language that I am not aware of. It might be the case that I have been away from India for a while now..2 yrs and counting...and probably the same amount of time away from Bengalis and the Bengali culture. Now, I can not even identify myself to this group.

There is someone asking what surname goes well with she is considering it for marriage. Here is the introduction to the discussion topic:

ideal match...
tomader ki mone hoy..kon surname amader shonge shobtheke bhalo match kore..maane biyer byapaare....
Translation: What surname according to you matches best with our (mukherjees) surname with respect to marriage! Alright...some one with too much time and hopefully too many choices for marriage is trying to choose one person like choosing earings to match with a saree.

Another post. Ghoti na Bangal.
What is Ghoti, what is bangal. I almost called up my mom 10.5 hours and 6000 miles away. What did you forget to mention about me ma? What am I? Ghoti or Bangal? Apparently it is important as every member decided to declare what they were and there is an active count going on.

Correction. I just called up my mom. She is a bangal, dad is a ghoti, me born in west bengal that makes me a ghoti. What a relief!! I was lost for a moment. Lost enough to start this blog. What if I was born in bombay? What would that make me? This is getting too complicated. So, I am a ghoti first, then a probashi, then an NRI now. I flip through the forums on that site and all those people (most based in and around Kolkatta) speak this lingo that I am unaware of. This culture that I am distant from. It is these forums that make me understand what probashi means.

But why the distinction? Havent we had enough? Men - Women, Gay - Straight, Hindu - Muslim, Black - White, Yankee - Southern. Now, we want to take it to another level of Probashi - Non-probashi. Not satisfied yet....Ghoti or Bangal? But I see hope in our generation. I see more people recognising these distinctions and working with them instead of building bigger walls.


Anirrban said...

Amazingly done! I m very impressed! Make a homepage for me too na, bro! Lol! anyways, I guess now the years of hard work in shaping u up and makin u understand the world has paid off!!!

Rowe said...

Just thought I'd go thro some older posts...your recent one seemed too serious..not really re.. but it had that serious, concerned note :):) felt like reading something am here :)

Comments on the post:
1. yes one can find everything online.
2. O i c a connection... the walls.. the ghosts :(..."If V could change! and the world" :| been thinking maybe we wouldn't survive being peaceful.... I need to think some more about this...

TC laters