Life's Like That

Friday, February 17, 2006


This is going to be a rather Bengali-fied post.Non Bongs, I shall try to provide translations wherever possible, but some of it is bound to be beyond my translation skills.
But before I get into that, what a week this has been! My office and I have been flooded with massive boxes contaning things like press folders and pads and pens and gifts and photographs and the like. Thinking back on the week, I can only recall a vague flurry of meetings and discussions of media lists... and many boxes. People are suggesting that my chair be taken away and some of the boxes be put there, and that I sit on the boxes and work. Oooooofff!! The only good thing about this week was the meeting with Marauders Map and Kaashyapeya. Very nice it was. Just for the record, Aarka you look younger in person than you do in your pics and I always thought you wear spectacles for some reason!
Anyways, to get on to the Bengali bit. I have been called " Bangalir naame kolonko"! ( translation...umm....disgraceful Bong)I am very distressed and I protest! It is bhery unphair I say!
See this is what happened. I was nursing a bad headache from a terribly box filled day and staring morosely at my computer screen when the delightful Marauders Map popped up on Google. We had the most wonderful conversation about PR and media and then somehow the topic of food happened to crop up. And I just happened to mention that I am not too fond of Bengali food. That stuff like shukto and mochar torkari ( two of those things I cannot translate) dont really do anything for me. I like some Bong food like dhokar dalna( sorry), and alu posto (potatoes and poppy seeds cooked in mustard oil..verrry yumm) and postor bora(poppy seed cutlets) and the like. But on the whole Im not too crazy about Bong food. Oh! And I HATE fish!! I dont touch fish. Any kind of fish. I do eat prawns though, but then prawns are not technically fish so thats ok.
Marauders Map threw a fit! Then I told her about the time I went to these people's house for lunch and much to my dismay they had made ilish mach (hilsa fish). I refused to eat that and settled for dal bhat and alu bhaja( dal rice and crisply fried alu)..which in my opinion is absolutely delicious. But then Kaku( uncle) and Kakima( Aunty)threw a fit. And Kaku demanded to know why I refuse to eat fish. So, I, in my usual mild inoffensive way explained that I dislike the mecho gondho that fish emits (fishy smell of fish) and that I find the kaanta (bones) very difficult to deal with, they get stuck in my throat. The strong fishy smell of hilsa and the profusion of very fine bones that hilsa has makes it particularly unpalatable for me. I also observed, very politely, that in my opinion hilsa by virtue of its smell and kaanta is unfit for human consumption and only creatures such as cats and bears can enjoy such a thing.
I thought I was quite reasonable. I was asked my reasons for refusing to eat a particular thing and I explained exactly that. I never once said that what I was saying was in any way a comment on their food preferences. But the way they reacted!!! My goodness!! They called me "Bangalir naame kolonko!" And said that I should be excommunicated from the Bangali community. My parents were questioned as to why they didnt do something to change my deviant behaviour!! My poor mother who tried everything she could to make me eat fish was forced to glare at me while simultaneously smiling sheepishly at them and making apologetic noises, and my father pretended he didnt know me. I sat in the middle of this whole drama, shamefaced and red around the ears.
I could have dealt with this trauma, but then upon telling Marauder about it, I found that she seemed to agree with Kaku and Kakima. She even agreed that I am indeed a kolonko in the name of Bengalis! And she is not the only one. Most people seemt o say the same thing.This is most upsetting!! Just because I think only cats can enjoy fish, just because I would much rather eat puliogare than mochar ghonto (I just cannot translate that), just because I think shukto is absolutely horrible, just because I prefer dal makhni to maacher maatha deowa muger dal (moong dal with fish heads in it...its considered a delicacy)...ta bole aamake kolonko bolbe!! *sobs*
Have any of you even considered the difficulties I face because of my fish aversion? Being called a black sheep is just one of the many heart wrenching things I endure. So many times I have gone to someones house for lunch and been faced with a wide plethora of fish fish and more fish. "Fine! " I have thought to myself. "I shall eat dal and rice with some of that potol bhaja there". ( dont know English for potol). Only to pour the dal onto my rice and discover with a shudder that it is full of heads(eeeeeeeeeewwww) and fish chunks and fish skin!!!! Then taken a bite of the potol bhaja only to realize that it is not the innocuous fried vegetable it is pretending to is stuffed with fish paste..potoler dorma I think its called. Have you spared a thought for how awful it is to sit at a table laden with food, starving, and know that no matter how hungry you are you just cannot bring yourself to eat the food in front of u? And then there is the embarassment that happens when your hosts realize you are not eating anything and then apologise for cooking only fish and then start offering you everything from omlettes to take out Chinese. All while your parents look guilty about having brought up such a disgraceful Bengali child!
But noone spares a thought for poor me. I never once said that you shouldnt eat fish or shukto or mocha or thor or any of those other typical Bong things. I am merely expressing my attitude towards it, why treaten to excommunicate me!? Why? Why? Im a good Bong otherwise, I read Bangla books, and talk about kaalchar.I even pretend to be aantel (pseudo) from time to time. I looooovvvve Calcutta and wax eloquent about Durga Pujo, and Boi Mela and jhal muri, and radhaballabhi( have been obessing about radha ballabvhi for the last 3 weeks..if anyone knows where one gets some in Bangalore please do tell). I cannot bring myself to staunchly support Saurav Ganguly, but then I hate cricket so thats ok. Why must I be called a kolonko? *weeps uncontrollably*
Am overcome by grief. Need to go and drown my sorrows in some vodka. Goodbye.
Update: Get a sneak preview of the latest sensation to hit Indian romance literature. It is bold, it is provocative, it is the new age mantra for love!!


  • Fish has protein. It helps blood circulation. It helps brain development. It builds character.

    By the way, psst psst, the thing is done (wink wink). Go take a look!

    By Blogger The Marauder's Map, at 8:40 AM  

  • You're a 'nowhere woman' and 'you don't know what you're missing'. :))
    If 'kaanta' is the only problem try pomfret or 'bhetki'. But you don't even like 'potoler dolma', so there's no point..
    if not a 'kolonko' you're definately a gone case..
    But there's good news, I know couple of bongs like you. So you're not the only one.

    By Blogger Kele Panchu, at 8:50 AM  

  • Oh dont worry.I know plenty of ppl like you - including my own sis - she hates bhaat and maach and mishti.
    but yes, bongs do consider it quite an offence if you dont love maach. tis an insult to their kalchar.

    By Blogger Dreamcatcher, at 11:25 AM  

  • Finally! Someone of my own heart! I am a very proud bengali, I love the art, culture and almost everything that has come from this beautiful province; except for the dreaded food! I despise maach, potol, any dish cooked with echor...and even *gasp* sandesh!

    By Blogger Bidisha, at 2:12 PM  

  • Hi - thot I should write this in.

    There's a book published in an Indian language called The Ideology of Eating Fish.

    It's by a channel honcho who finds solace in the act of chewing cold blooded aquatic vertebrates - he has to even have them with his evening chai! And no, it's not fiction.

    He speaks about the way people relate to him over the act, and how some exclude him. Socio poltico econo eco baggage and a lot more is discussed.

    Thot of posting a pic with this comment, but can't find the one I want from Bluffmaster, where all the people are referred to as varieties of fish.

    The point is - fish eaters outside the Bengali loop are also attempting to bring the piscean to the mainstream (like gay activism), so beware!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:10 PM  

  • @marauders map: are you implying that i lack charecter and my brain is underdeveloped!!? *raises one eyebrow* hmphh!!

    but for the brilliant brilliant post of yours..hmph...tomar ekdin ki aamr ekdin!! kintu how can i fight with my co authoress? it is a bit of brilliant pre book release hype my dear :D

    @panchuda: * pained expression*.."nowhere woman"!!?? etoboro kotha bolte paarle tumi
    *eyes brimming over with tears*
    pomfret and bhetki lack kaanta, but fishy smell is intact, therefore no ways!!

    @dreamcatcher: i must meet your sister. i hate bhaat maach and cha. although i absolutely love mishti.

    @bidisha: hellooo and welcome to my blog. double welcome for your kind words of support. i had forgotten about that horrendous vegetable echor...horrible. although i do love sandesh and all bong mishtis. in fact the only mishti i can eat is bengali mishti. hate the marwari ghee soaked variety :)

    @vintage: oh my goodness!! i did not know all this!! how horrible. the very mention of that yuck inducing combination of tea and cold blooded aquatic vertebrates is making me feel faint!! how absolutely awful!! as for non bongs trying to get the piscean into the mainstream, i should have known!! my punjabi boyfriend can eat fish for breakfast lunch and dinner, and is rather upset about my anti fish stance. frequently grumbles about how he thought he though he was ensuring a fishy future when we started seeing each other and how he is totally disillusioned now.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:50 PM  

  • NOTE TO ALL: this is a 'with you, sister' comment.

    ron, love, you're absolutely, completely and totally right when you say that fish is inedible and fit only for the fiendish feline (well, they do seem to like it...) and that hilsa is the absolute pitts! the smell! and the tiny bones that get stuck in your throat! awful!

    *hugs ron and glares at shrabonti and panchuda*
    for the record, i've also been called a 'bangalir nam-e kolonko', because in addition to fish, i also don't much like mangoes and sondesh. so there!

    By Blogger Rimi, at 7:41 AM  

  • *dismayed*

    Not even bhetki maach?! Not fish fry? fish n chips? NO MAACH AT AWL?!?!

    *collapses in grief over the state of the nation*

    *grabs at the nearest sorse ilish for solace*

    By Blogger rainbeau_peep, at 9:12 AM  

  • @rimi: thank you!! *hugs back*

    @rainbeau peep: fish at all. in very dire circumstances when theer is absolutely nothing else to eat and im starving i might gulp down a bhetki fish fry..u know the types that dont stink.coated with biscuit er guro..that kinds. but thats the most im ready to do.

    PS: shorshe ilish!!!!!! *horrified look*

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:20 PM  

  • You should have recited a bangla poem to show you are not any kolonko after all !!!!

    By Blogger Soham Pablo, at 12:22 AM  

  • Don't recognize a single thing (except the non Bong food) you mentioned. But if you don't like it, we say, avoid it at all cost. But I cannot wait to go to Cal at some point and sink my teeth into all those things. Any kind offers from the horrified people here? :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:53 AM  

  • @soham: Hatti matim tim
    Tara maathe paare deem
    Tader khara duto shing
    Taara hatti matim tim.

    Aami lokhkhi Bangali meye! :P

    @ph: heh!! you should call one of these horrified people the next time you plan to go to Calcutta, and demand fish. As for me, if you want to eat some reeeaaallllllly yummy roadside food, gimme a call next time your in that city.We shall breakfast on alu kabli, lunch on phuchkas and dine on jhal muri!!

    By Blogger Ron, at 8:16 AM  

  • Oh, I agree with you. Tahole ammio bangali'r naame kolonko. Ilish machch'e eto gondo je aami khete pari na, and due our cook's idea that fish as close to the raw state as possible is good ranna, I have stopped eating fish. Whenever it is offered to me, I can only see machcher bajar with losts of dead fish, machchi and an overpowering nauseating smell. *Hugs you along with Rimi*. Lets form a forum for people like us, and name it, "Against the harrassment of Bengalis who can't eat Fish"

    By Blogger i dwell in possibility, at 11:29 PM  

  • @gm,m: raw fish!!!!?? how awful!! you poor thing! and yes i know what you mean about the maacher bajar! that forum sounds like a brilliant idea..lets do it i say :)

    By Blogger Ron, at 8:30 PM  

  • Looks like there are a lot of us 'kolonko's' around :)) I've grown up hearing people say "bangalir meye machh khay na ki go?" and the likes. I hate the smell, the taste and everything about fish. biye kore jedin gelam haate straight ekta koi machh dhoriye dilo! If you didn't know koi machh just refuses to die so the bloody thing was alive and jumping. I think I jumped higher when they gave me that to hold. And then for bou bhat they gave me an entire machher matha to eat! Horror!!! Anyways got saved by my darling bor who said eshob khete hobe na. Ekhono deshe phone korle my shashuri remembers to ask "tui machh khawa shikhli ektuo?" God! Thank God I don't have to live in Cal and eat machh bhat every day.

    By Blogger M (tread softly upon), at 6:46 AM  

  • @m(traed softly upon): oooh! i remember the koi maach and maacher matha from my mama's wedding! never have i felt so completely sorry for anyone as i did that day for my aunt!! aami shedin kei decide kore felechilam je aami kichu tei bangali chele biye korbo na!! kichutei korbo na korbo na!!!you poor poor thing!!!did your hand smell of fish for days afterwards? thank goodness for your husband!! three cheers for him!!

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:57 PM  

  • Hi Ron,

    Don’t know if you remember me - I’ve been visiting your blog ever since I read your travails regarding your Punju-Bong wedding.

    Haven’t commented in between but today I *had* to, because your post drove me to tears of laughter, and more so when I read rainbeau_peep’s comment about ‘grabbing at the nearest sorse ilish for solace’!!!

    I sympathize with you though I am not in the same category, but interestingly I used to be! I clearly remember the stigma attached to being a Bong non-fish-eating individual.

    But now I indulge in piscine pleasures too often, so if you are lokhkhi Bangali meye, aami to super-lokhkhi Bangali meye!!

    PS: Apologize for long comment, realized too late that have been rambling on for too long :(

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:19 PM  

  • @gm: hey of course i remember you. i was wodnering where you vanished. hya tumi shotti super lokhkhi bangali meye!! i doubt if i can ever change sides! boddo beshi gondho! tomar punju husband bujhi onek maach khaye? rahul ottonto mecho!! shobshomoy maach maach korte thaake!! very distressing!!

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:37 PM  

  • Had vanished into cyberspace of work :(

    >> tomar punju husband bujhi onek maach khaye?

    To put it politely, yes. Ma ruhi, illish, tangda shob baniye dai aar mr. m ak ghonta dhode khete thake, puro maach takay bhalo kore de-bone kore khaye. Good isn’t it???

    Note: he does not eat fish when the lights go out!!! Extremely entertaining for all concerned!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:42 PM  

  • @gm: ei shob mecho punju ra bhishon jhamela kore. but the lights out no fish thing is really very funny!

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:52 PM  

  • there's ths place called mishti in Koramangala...that serves sweets and chat / snack kinda varieties of bong food...guess i have seen radhaballabhi also there...

    its on the road that joins the Sony world junction to sarjapur road. get it? jus go straight up from the mahindra showroom...and you'll find it to your left before Fabmall after about 300-400m

    By Blogger shub, at 7:40 AM  

  • hi there ron

    may i please have your email address....i need to discuss something personal with you.


    >will check right here for it

    >or perhaps a yahoo id

    >tnx a mil


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:35 PM  

  • @shub: really!!??? *smiles from ear to ear like a cheshire cat* i musssttt go and check this place out IMMEDIATELY. thank you sooooooo much!!! :D

    @anonymous: who are you? i know so many people whose names start with "S"...which one are u?if you know me well, you should be on chat with me, so check yahoo/ msn / google talk, you will get one of my ids. but really, who are u?

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:06 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger death, at 9:48 PM  

  • @death: you are really beginning to annoy me now.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:25 PM  

  • This post reminds me of my bro. .. 2 decades of adamantly sticking to no fish, no kosha mangsho and to top it all no rosogolla ..actually no sweets with ros. Add to that total dislike of rice.

    Reminds me of a bhaiphota where all my cousins were amazed that he would not eat macher matha ...

    I used to wonder what sort of bong is he ? Guess you all fit in the wierd kind ... But this also reminds me of my cousin sis who would not eat fish for the bones but would devour otherwise.

    By Blogger Kausum, at 11:51 AM  

  • @kausum: we are not weird, we just have alterbnative taste in food :)

    welcome to my blog btw.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:21 PM  

  • Hi Ron, just accidentally stumbled across your blog...Potol is called Wax Gourd/Pointed Gourd in English!!! (How's that's for some GK??!!! :))

    By Blogger Shilpi, at 6:33 AM  

  • u know ur a bong who is ashamed to be a bong...i know plenty like u ...n im sorry i cant relate to u

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:55 PM  

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