Livinghigh: The root cause
Friday, January 14, 2005
Livinghigh was here at 5:12 PM /

The root cause

It's a question of being, as my mum never fails to stress enough, true to your roots. I'm a Bong. That much is pretty evident for miles around if you saw me today. I'm wearing this electric blue kurta, sleeves rolled up as any good Bong should have, with hugely prominent white blockprints that depict some modern art-meets aalpana* creation, over faded jeans - very much the archetypal college drop-out that people think is synonmous with the ever-old city of Calcutta. All I'm missing is a paunch and a moustache to twirl, as I walk down the road, confident in my Bong regalia, striding down that bastion of misplaced and ever-loudly reclaimed Marathi pride, the ever-(so-called)-young city of Bombay.

[I have a penchant for long sentences that tend to draw you on for miles before winding down to a tired and exhausted stop, to give you a moment's rest, before trundling up the very next hill of verbosity. I like to think I'm normal, but then, that little tidbit has already been the mischieveous little spark of much dawing-room debate in an earlier post.]

Back to my mum, then. A true-blue Bong if ever you saw one, though she has been schooled in one of the poshest boarding schools in India, and origially possessed a name that was much asked after, for its fashionable elegance as much as it was for its peculiarity, which she alas changed, soon after her marriage to my dad, to a more sedate Bong term since her in-laws could not understand head nor tail of it. So, from a Faye she became a Manjula. And despite her polished Ango-Indian self, she soon became familiar with the Bong things in life and tried to instill all of these into my brother and I, with that inescapable little term upon hearing which the two of us snigger uncontrollably and irrepresably. Be True to your roots!

Mum would probably beam with pride if she saw me today, in my attire. I can't help that. There are suddenly days that dawn when a long-repressed Bong gene flowers and envelops me in a cloud of pollen, and I gear up in sandals and faded jeans, a kurta with two buttons open at the throat, giving just a hint of hairy (= manly, for Bongs) chest, and stride down the road as if I were the Maharajah of Potoldanga, or some such old Bengal province which has long been consumed by the greedy growing city of British Calcutta. Contrary to the common perception of a Bong and his soulmate The Fish, I can steer clear from the stuff for quite a long period of time - I actually do not like hilsa, that celebrated species of much fanfare in the Bengali gourmet's poetry - but I still adore my luchi-maangsho (Bong style puris and mutton gravy).

My sweet tooth is my dead give-away. Bong sweets, Marwari sweets, Muslim sweets, chocolates, I love them all. My only reason for not touching alcohol for quite a long time was that I found it too bitter for my pampered sweet tooth, and even now, I cannot stand beer. But I do love vodka and rum nowadays, and my special favourite is capping a glass of rich Bacardi with a popper of milk chocolate stuffed with caramel. I'm liable to stand there for a while, knees slightly wobbly, close my eyes, maybe even flutter my lashes a tiny bit in an imitation of what the ideal orgasm ought to be like, and lick my lips, slowly, delectably, and make soft little murmurs, all the while feeling the heady richness of the caramel wreak havoc with my senses fueled by the strong burn of the white rum - Delightful death.

An electric-blue kurta with rolled-up sleeves has a special affinity for such delightful death. Ask the most seasoned drunk, and he will be true to his roots.

*Not just Bongs, many other communities also do this thing - make intricate patterns on the floor with a rice-based paste, which is supposed to be auspicious, usually before some puja.


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