How do you clue “Mortgage”
(Or Sampling a Bengali party in Dallas)
“Have weekend – will party” is the usual war cry that emanates from my friend circle – come Friday, Saturday or Sunday. A very lively bunch of blokes, I admit. Half the fun is getting prepared for the party, another half is planning for the next party while this party is going on and of course the rest of the fun is during the party 🙂 The reason the parties are so lively is because of the bench strength we can call from when it comes to bringing together a motley of “characters”.
If you have seen one of these parties, you have pretty much seen all of them. Here is how the script roughly goes. First, about a week before the party is called you find out who else has been called. It is a taboo to mention about this party in the presence of the uninvited – lest they get the idea that they are not part of the “in” crowd. There is a particularly industrious friend who insists on finding out who is going to whose party – I have this nagging feeling that she has this massive roster with rows and columns and “X”s all over 🙂 I wonder whether she gives odds on who is going to be invited and who is not on which day.
Well, eventually you arrive at the party. Remember that this is an India party. It is not mandatory to know the exact address – just a rough idea of the location usually suffices. Prior to internet boom, you would have to hover around the area for a few minutes till you could locate the highest concentration of Hondas and Accords around a block. Post internet boom, you improve your chances by snooping for Lexi (is that the plural of Lexus?) and Mercedes.
Once you are in the block, you promptly get down and strain your neck to see which house has a few “chappals” outside the door. You got your host’s house zeroed down to the tee. Any doubts are soon taken care of by the wafting of delicious curry smell leaking from the house. Armed with your usual gift of the nearest bottle of wine that you could grab while closing the garage door, you enter the house.
You are immediately greeted by the immaculately dressed host weaving his way thru about forty seven pairs of shoes of all hues and shapes strewn all over the doorway. You promptly add yours to the confusion there.
Then there is the customary “staircase-goodbye-to-kids”. True to our striation systems that we have back at the place we call our motherland (don’t forget this is an Indian party), all the kids are segregated to go upstairs and adults stay downstairs. The only time you will see your kids again is when they come down to have the pepperoni Pizza ordered for them. You also get to see them when you go upstairs to see what the confusion upstairs is all about. Your turn usually comes when it is your kid who is crying or you hear some other parent yelling out your kid’s name not to hit anybody 🙂
So, away from the staircase you go to make the grand entry to the living area. All this time you were hearing vague mentions of your name coming from the living room but of course you have been pointedly ignoring them. Lest you forgot, you are reminded that this is an Indian party when you realize that the ladies have congregated on one side of the room and the guys have gotten together with equal amount of gender spirit (either that or by the method of elimination) in another corner of the room.
There is one thing that binds these two groups at the foundation level though. If you carefully hear what they are talking about, it is invariably about Bollywood. Some of the data that are spit out astounds me in detail and irrelevance. As an example – somebody says “Have you seen the new movie – Mohabbat Ki Gudgudi”? In about 5 minutes, you will get to know about which grade did the third cousin twice removed of the supporting actor fail in while in St. Mary’s School in Andheri!!
Needless to say, by this time, the first round of appetizers have been brought in by the hostess – thanks to whom now you also know which bus stand the playback singer of the aforementioned movie used to go to for his trysts with Preeti Bhede. [You got me there – I had the same question – who the heck is she – but I resisted from asking since I did not wish to look like an idiot. Well, more than I am acknowledged to be, i.e.].
I simply marvel at their ability to store so much inconsequential data. I am so afraid that if I tried to cram those in my head, the rest of the hair might have to fall off to make space!!
Did I mention what the host has been up to all this time? As you can imagine, we take the role of being a host very righteously. This means basically 2 things. We buy 2 large bottles of red wine and download from the internet the latest jivey Hindi songs from the internet into our iPods a few hours before the party starts. If you do not have an iPod, you run a huge risk of being looked down upon!!
The more sophisticated ones of course go thru the rigmarole of “tasting the wine”. The bottle is opened with a lot of flair and the first hapless victim is poured a little and asked “Chalega kya”? The “victim”, not to be outdone, swirls the goblet with equal vigor, pours a little thru the lips and closes his eyes as the rest of us in the audience are holding our collective bated breath what the judgment will be. “Chalega” is the verdict handed down. Just once – just once, I want to say “Hmmm… let’s try something else” and see the reaction of the host 🙂 So far, I am happy to report that I have not risked it. Partly, because I have this feeling that after a couple of ounces of wine, most of my friends can’t differentiate between red and white wine – let alone the taste of the wine!!
By this time the party has started getting loud. There are a few (three to be precise) in my friends circle who have a decibel level that will make the bullet train back off on its tracks! One holler from them and I swear that Hurricane Katrina would have gone back from where it came!!
Then there are the usual laggards. As in your circles too, I have a couple-friend who have taken it upon themselves to keep certain traditions of our motherland alive among us – specifically Indian Stretchable Time. The good news is that the husband is a model here (some of us snidely comment that he models for P3 underwear for J.C.Penny – but I am sure that is mostly because the rest of us are just jealous of how much attention he gets from the other end of the living room 🙂 ) and runs everyday some innumerable miles a day. So we just overlook all these small foibles in life.
Then comes dinner – which, to me, usually is the most enjoyable part of the day. I am almost embarrassed to mention this that somehow the hostess has invariably taken special care of me and made one curry of eggs. While I am non-vegetarian, I prefer vegetables any day. I also love eggs. (To me eggs are vegetables – they are sold in the fruit shops in Benachity, anyways). However the very guest-conscious hostess nowadays makes a special egg preparation for me. Either that, or there is a vast right wing conspiracy to stock me up on cholesterol!
After the dinner comes the earplugs to deal with the next part of the show – which is usually either some game (like Taboo or Pictionary or whatever) or if you are less lucky – dancing. Now, let me very upfront here. I play these games with the ease of a cow climbing up a tree and I dance with the grace of a hippo on a hot plate. Let’s take Pictionary as an example. Most of you who know me, probably also know that I have many strengths. Drawing is not one of them. About the only thing I have liked drawing in my life is my salary.
Well, here I am, and I am given the clue “Suck”. I am not kidding you. This actually happened to me a couple of weeks back. I am supposed to draw “suck”. All my teammates know is that it is of the category “action”. After overcoming all my conscientiousness (it helped that it was a husbands versus wives game), I proceeded to draw a diagram that, if put on the web, is surely going to be taken out by Cybernanny. My teammates did get the word but not before I learnt two important lessons in life.
* Art does NOT imitate life (one hopes at least after seeing my picture)
* You will be amazed how people can come up with very complicated synonyms for very simple English words 🙂
The husbands versus wives rule was originally made when (prior to the rule), a wife clued to her husband teammate the word “Mortgage” (in Taboo) by saying “This is the painful thing we go thru every month”. The prompt response from the husband was no less painful on us as we split our slides literally rolling all over the floor laughing our heads off.
However, the husbands versus wives rule also bring the decibels out of all of the participants with allegations and counter allegations of cheating. The way the two teams keep count of their scores would make the Enron accountants blush!!
And then there are days when there are dances. This is usually the sequence of how things work out. First, some jivey remix sings are blasted over the high bass systems in the living room and the lights are dimmed. There are a couple of wives who are the more enterprising ones and lead the floor. Soon all the wives join in. The husbands take a lot more time to warm up. There are a few exceptions of course.
The fun starts then. Imagine a living room with sound blasting at a level befitting an IMAX theater and numerous folks trying to coax their legs to move their upper body as gracefully as they can. And whoever joins in the dance takes it upon himself or herself to pull in the innocent bystanders too. It is like when you get married. Once you get married, you try to get everybody else married. I think the sentiment is “If I am going down, I am not going alone” 🙂
Anyways, like I said, I am not a dancer. I would not dance if you paid me a million dollars (btw, after looking at my bank checkbook lately, I am nowadays reconsidering that statement 🙂 ). But there exists no undiluted fun as much as watching a bunch of folks trying to dance. You know the amateurs since they have the same moves – whatever the rhythm or beat. So there is this guy who at any point of will remind you of Nataraja (two hands up, on leg up, belly to match with).
Of course, I am in the kitchen, sipping my red wine and fending off all approaching me (including my beautiful wife who has already complained that I don’t dance – my theory is that by the definition of dance – none of my friends dance either) to pull me into the dance.
Soon that ends too. And it is time to go. All of us comment on how great a party it was. And sympathize with the poor husband who has to clean up the house now 🙂
I had read this some time back – found it very funny…
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as ‘Euro-English’ .
In the first year, ‘s’ will replace the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard ‘c’ will be dropped in favour of ‘k’. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced with ‘f’. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where! more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent ‘e’ in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and ‘w’ with ‘v’.
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’ and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.
The History of Time
850 B.C. – Britons proclaim Operation Stonehenge a success. They’ve finally gotten those boulders arranged in a sufficiently meaningless pattern to confuse scientists for centuries.
525 B.C. – The first Olympics are held, and prove similar to the modern games, except that the Russians don’t try to enter a sixfooter with a mustache in the women’s shot put. However, the Egyptians do.
410 B.C. Rome ends the practice of throwing debtors into slavery, thus removing the biggest single obstacle to the development of the credit card.
1 B.C. Calendar manufacturers find themselves in total disagreement over what to call next year.
432 – St. Patrick introduces Christianity to Ireland, thereby giving the natives something interesting to fight about for the rest of their recorded history.
1125 – Arabic numerals are introduced to Europe, enabling peasants to solve the most baffling problem that confronts them: How much tax do you owe on MMMDCCCLX Lira when you’re in the XXXVI percent bracket?
1233 – The Inquisition is set up to torture and kill anyone who disagrees with the Law of the Church. However, the practice is so un-Christian that it is permitted to continue for only 600 years.
1607 – The Indians laugh themselves silly as the first European tourist to visit Virginia tries to register as “John Smith.”
1815 – Post Office policy is established as Andrew Jackson wins the Battle of New Orleans a month after he should have received the letter telling him the War of 1812 is over.
1859 – Charles Darwin writes “Origin of the Species”. It has the same general plot as “Planet of the Apes”, but fails to gross as much money.
1911 – Roald Amundsen discovers the South Pole and confirms what he’s suspected all along: It looks a lot like the North Pole…
This is another gem on Bengalis… Enjoy…
“A” for …
A is for Awpheesh (as in Office). This is where the average Kolkakattan goes and spends a day hard(ly) at work. And if he works for the “West Bengal Gawrment” he will arrive at 10, wipe his forehead till 11, have a tea break at 12, throw around a few files at 12.30, break for lunch at 1, smoke an unfiltered cigarette at 2, break fortea at 3, sleep sitting down at 4 and go home at 4:30. It’s a hard life!
B is for Bhision. For some reason many Bengalis don’t have good bhision. In fact in Kolkata most people are wearing spectacles all the time
C is for Chappell. Currently, this is the Bengali word for the Devil, for the worst form of evil. In the night mothers put their kids to sleep saying, æNa ghumaley Chappell eshey dhorey niye jabeö
D is for Debashish or any other name starting with Deb-. By an ancient law every fourth Bengali Child has to be named Debashish. So you have a Debashish everywhere and trying to get creative they are also called Deb, Debu, Deba with variations like Debanik, Deboprotim, Debojyoti, etc. thrown in at times.
E is for Eeesh. This is a very common Bengali exclamation made famous by Aishwarya Rai in the movie Devdas. It is estimated that on an average a Bengali, especially Bengali women, use eeesh 10,089 times every year. “Ei Morechhey” is a close second to Eeesh.
F is for Feeesh. These are creatures that swim in rivers and seas and are a favourite food of the Bengalis. Despite the fact that a fish market has such strong smells, with one sniff a Bengali knows if a fish is all right. If not he will say ‘eeesh what feeesh is theesh!’
G is for Good name. Every Bengali boy will have a good name like Debashish or Deboprotim and a pet name like Montu, Bablu, etc. While every Bengali girls will have pet names like Tia, Tuktuki, Mishti, Khuku, etc
H is for Harmonium. This the Bengali equivalent of a rock guitar. Take four Bengalis and a Harmonium and you have the successors to The Bheatles!
I is for lleesh. This is a feeesh with 10,000 bones which would kill any ordinary person, but which the Bengalis eat with releeesh!
J is for Jhola. No self respecting Bengali is complete without his Jhola. It is a shapeless cloth bag where he keeps all his belongings and he fits an amazing number of things in. Even as you read this there are 2 million jholas bobbling around Kolkata- and they all look exactly the same! Note that ‘Jhol’ as in Maachher Jhol is a close second
K is for Kee Kaando !. It used to be the favourite Bengali exclamation till eeesh took over because of Aishwarya Rai (now Kee Kando’s agent is trying to hire Bipasha Basu)
L is for Lungi – the dress for all occasions. People in Kolkata manage to play football and cricket wearing it not to mention the daily trip in the morning to the local bajaar. Now there is talk of a lungi expedition to Mt. Everest .
M is for Minibus. These are dangerous half buses whose antics would effortlessly frighten the living daylights out of all James Bond stuntmen as well as Formula 1 race car drivers.
N is for N ishchoi. This is the Bengali word for Obvious . It is the most interesting word in any expression !
O is for Oil. The Bengalis believe that a touch of mustard oil will cure anything from cold (oil in the nose), to earache (oil in the ear), to cough (oil on the throat) to piles (oil you know where!)
P is for Phootball. This is always a phavourite phassion of the Kolkattan. Every Bengali is born an expert in this game. The two biggest clubs there are Mohunbagan and East Bengal and when they play the city comes to a stop.
Q is for Queen. This really has nothing to do with the Bengalis or Kolkata, but it’s the only Q word I could think of at this moment. There’s also Quilt but they never use them in Kolkata.
R is for Robi Thakur. Many nany years ago Rabindranath got the Nobel Prize. This has given the right to all Bengalis no matter where they are to frame their acceptance speeches as if they were directly related to the great poet and walk with their head held high. This also gives Bengalis the birthright to look down at Delhi and Mumbai and of course ‘all non-Bengawlees’ ! Note that ‘Rawshogolla’ comes a close second !
S is for Shourav. Now that they finally produced a genuine cricketer and a captain, Bengalis think that he should be allowed to play until he is 70 years old. Of course they will see to it that he stays in good form by doing a little bit of “joggo” and “maanot”
T is for Trams. Hundred years later there are still trams in Kolkata. Of course if you are in a hurry it’s faster to walk.
U is for Aambrela. When a Bengali baby is born they are handed one.
V is for Bhaayolence. Bengalis are the most non-violent violent people around. When an accident happens they will fold up their sleeves, shout and scream and curse and abuse, ôChherey De Bolchhiö but the last time someone actually hit someone was in 1979.
W is for Woter. For three months of the year the city is underwater and every year for the last 200 years the authorities are taken by surprise by this!
X is for XÆmas. It’s very big in Kolkata, with Park Street fully lit up and all Bengalis agreeing that they must eat cake that day.
Y is for Yesshtaarday. Which is always better than today for a Bengali (see R for Robi Thakur).
Z is for Jebra, Joo, Jipper and Jylophone.
A friend of mine sent this to me. Once again, I do not know how real these are, but I found them to be very funny. This is supposed to be a collection of applications for leave (the Indian style) from various employees in some of the outsourced development centers…
Application for Leave
· Infosys, Bangalore: An employee applied for leave as follows:
“Since I have to go to my village to sell my land along with my wife, please sanction me one-week leave.”
This is from Oracle Bangalore: >From an employee who was performing the “mundan” ceremony of his 10 year old son:
“as I want to shave my son’s head, please leave me for two days..”
· Another gem from CDAC. Leave-letter from an employee who was performing his daughter’s wedding:
“as I am marrying my daughter, please grant a week’s leave..”
· From H.A.L. Administration Dept:
“As my mother-in-law has expired and I am only one responsible for it, please grant me 10 days leave.”
· Another employee applied for half day leave as follows:
“Since I’ve to go to the cremation ground at 10 o-clock and I may not return, please grant me half day casual leave”
· An incident of a leave letter:
“I am suffering from fever, please declare one-day holiday.”
· A leave letter to the headmaster:
“As I am studying in this school I am suffering from headache. I request you to leave me today”
· Another leave letter written to the headmaster:
“As my headache is paining, please grant me leave for the day.”
· Covering note:
“I am enclosed herewith…”
· Another one written by a gal:
“Dear Sir: with reference to the above, please refer to my below…”
· Actual letter written for application of leave:
“My wife is suffering from sickness and as I am her only husband at home I may be granted leave”.
· Letter writing:-
“I am well here and hope you are also in the same well.”
I am not sure about the source of this but long time somebody had sent this to me to reflect upon the Bengali’s constant vigil against catching cold… Enjoy…
Thanda Lege Jabe
(“You will catch a cold”)
One phrase every Bengali worth his sweater has grown up with is “thanda lege jabey”. It is the ultimate warning of impending doom, an unadulterated form of existentialist advice. Thanda lege jabey. Thou shalt ‘catch the cold’.
‘Catching the cold’ comes easy to Bengalis. It’s a skill that’s acquired almost immediately after birth. Watch a Bengali baby and you would know. Wrapped in layers of warm clothing even if the sun is boiling the mercury, the baby learns quickly that his chances of survival in a Bengali household depend on how tightly he can wrap himself in cotton, linen and wool. Bengalis have almost romanticized warm clothing, so much so that Bengali art has found eloquent expression in a form of quilt-stitch work called kantha. I’m sure wool-shearers even in faraway Australia say a silent prayer to Bengalis before the shearing season (if there’s any such season). I’m also sure the very thought of Bengalis sends a chill down the spine of many a sheep.
In winter, the quintessential Bengali’s outfit puts the polar bear to shame. Packaged in at least seven layers of clothing and the head snugly packed inside the queerest headgear, the monkey cap, he takes the chill head on. Easy lies the head that wears the monkey cap. With a pom-pom at the top, it’s not just a fashion statement; it’s a complete fashion paragraph.
I remember strolling down the Walk of Fame in Hollywood on a pleasant May evening. My eyes scanned the glittering stars on the asphalt – each an ode to a Hollywood heavyweight. Suddenly, my ears caught the unmistakable Doomsday warning – ‘thanda lege jabey’. I stood transfixed. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is probably the last place one would like to get caught ‘catching the cold’. I turned around.There was this Bengali family braving the American chill. The young brat of the family was adamant that he didn’t want any more clothing but mom wouldn’t have any of it – “sweater porey nao, thanda lege jabey.” I need not translate that. Mom won, and the family – sweaters et al – posed for a photograph.
For a race that is perpetually running scared of cold weather, Bengalis have a surprising affinity for hill stations.
Probably, warmth of heart is best preserved in shawls, pullovers and cardigans. In an age when you are judged by how cool or uncool you are, the warmth that the kakus, jethus and mashimas exude can melt icebergs. I wouldn’t trade that warmth for any amount of cool. However, the monkey cap may look cool without the pom-pom.