Being the “Non Bengali Bengali”.

First and foremost, I support the idea of “Being Indian”. The regionalism is not that deep-rooted in me, unless and until for some particular region.
Secondly, “I am Bengoli, born and brought up in Delhi” is one phrase that I am tired of saying now. Why do I even have to say that? I will get to this answer eventually.
Thirdly, it’s Bengali not Bengoli. But then you, English. And it’s absolutely not Bong. What do you guys mean by Bong? I mean, what?
I am completely fed up of all the stereotypes that revolve around the people who are Bengali. I am being constantly asked, by the same people at times, if I eat fish. They assume that I am just a huge fan of fishes. No, I don’t like fish. And when I tell them this, they now want to know why I don’t eat fish. Or how can I not? It’s the same reason why one doesn’t eat green vegetables or anything. I don’t like the taste. And it’s my personal choice irrespective of my community.
In the same fashion, people assume that I must be holidaying in West Bengal every now and then. 2017 is the year when I visited Kolkata for the first time in my conscious life. And that is – I am not ashamed of admitting it, despite being a Bengali.
I don’t have big Bengali eyes or exceptionally long hair like the natives of this state of the east. I have no clue how that is my fault. How can I possibly “fix” my non – Bengali eyes.
When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t tell them I am Bengali. I don’t think that is important. For that matter, I don’t even ask if someone is a Bengali or a Punjabi or Bihari or anything. My liking or disliking depends on a person per se and not on the language they speak or the state from where they hail. And what irritates me more is the fact that people take offence if I don’t make them aware of the fact that I am a Bengali. Why? We are no almost-at-a-verge-of-extinction species. Bengalis are just everywhere.
I am expected to be a good singer/ dancer/ academician or very creative, invariably​. I am sorry but I am nothing. And that doesn’t make me a black sheep of the community, FYI. I fail to understand why this is such a big deal. And no, our playlists are not filled with Rabindra Sangeet. Yes, it is mesmerizing but at least my playlist is not full of them nor do I have learned them by heart. Also, I have been sent to a regular English medium school in Delhi. Why is it a surprise if I can not write Bangla? I too had homework to do. And I used to spend the rest of my time playing and not utilizing it in learning to write Bangla.
Not just that – Bengalis are known to be misers. I don’t know why because none who surround me are anywhere close to being a miser. So, whenever I pay for lunches or anything, I am always being retorted at – How can I be such a non-Bengali? Oh yes, that makes you think so!
Another thing I come across a lot is I don’t take my friends to Durga Pujo.  It’s normal offerings of prayers which is done in the morning and the evening Aroti, which is mesmerizing. I don’t know why people fail to understand that it is NOT about food. People don’t want to attend the Pujo but yes all other things – and apparently, I should enjoy that which I clearly don’t. No thank you, I am more like a quiet and less crowd- loving person and thus for me the offering prayers is more important.
And it’s just not me who is away from being a “stereotypically” Bengali. I have vegetarian and teetotaler Punjabi friends. I have Gujjar friends who don’t abuse or get angry at all. The whole purpose of this post is that stereotyping is not very cool and it’s just better if we shun it.
Yes, I am a li’l biased against Bengalis. I don’t like them much. I am just indifferent of someone being a Bengali or not. And all the above reasons justify why I don’t like them. I openly accept the fact that I might not be very Bengali but that doesn’t mean I don’t know my culture or my heritage. I am very much into it, thank you. But I don’t show off to be something I am not. But then, there are people who do that. And it’s because of that people like me live under immense pressure. I refuse to take that pressure but not everyone does.
  1. It is very natural for us to classify. The problem is when it is done in a negative way. If the influence of the cultures of Bengal, Delhi and India are taken away from our personality, what would be left of us? I am not even sure of the answer. As long as we are tolerant and respectful towards the spectrum of cultures, people, religions, languages and communities in the world, we are fine.

  2. @Ronnie Dada
    That is there. But I am really turned off by the stereotyping! I don't want to be known as a Bengali or a Delhiite. I am happy being myself without any language , community or region defining me!

  3. I think we carry the footprints of the culture we grow up with. In our case, perhaps the Delhi culture obtained from school and surroundings got the better of us than the Bengali culture to which we were exposed only at home. If I live 40 years in Germany I would be more German than Indian. Its pretty simple, we are what we are exposed to.

  4. @Anindya
    Of course! I will be a hypocrite if I say that I don't stereotype. But yes, being a Bengali in Delhi , or in any part of India except West Bengal is tough!

    Thank you for visiting. I hope to see eyou around more 🙂

  5. Loved this write up and agree to some and disagree to some also but stereotyping is something which we have in all spheres of the society for religion, casts , professions etc etc . We live with that and make most of it

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