My Travel Map

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Of Weddings and The Bengali...(Part 1)

These days there's a new spark on the horizon...my elder bro's getting married and that's an event i'm really looking forward, too. It just struck me that some of my wingmates back in kgp had long wanted to be present at a bengali wedding and i suppose some of them might make it to my brother's. But what i fear is that they will be disappointed, or to put it more bluntly, simply bored stiff!
This brings me to the one non-bong wedding that i've attended (excluding the few weddings/receptions that i've attended back in my hometown, those were merely social occasions where i would, mostly, not even be interested enuf to meet the bride/groom and just go straight to where the free grub was being served), that being my wingie deepak's brother's wedding in meerut. It was my first look at a hindi heartland shaadi from the inside and it was frankly, a hugely different experience for me.
Firstly, the experience of meerut itself was quite new, as i had hardly had any experience of life anywhere outside bengal, if you discount the tourist places (even those are infested by bengalis by the dozen). The concept of family, friends, hospitality, socializing, everything seemed quite different from what i was used to back home. And you have to consider the fact that i'm not the usual bangali-babu, having grown up in a more cosmopolitan environment than most calcuttans would be. An industrial township gives you enough exposure to various cultures and i was quite well off on that count. Still, i was absorbing new things, every minute of my stay in meerut.
Bengal and bengalis have an unique culture that they take pride in, actually more pride than it actually deserves, and are hence, more often than not, complacent in the belief that their ways and customs are superior to all else. They have a word of contempt for possibly every other indian state, whether it be the bihari, the maru, the madrasi, the oriya, no one's exempt!Having lived for 4 years in a multi-cultural environment, i sometimes tried to reckon whether the prototypes actually made any sense, but couldn't come up with any definite answers. Of course, every state has its own unique customs, but who gave us the right to judge them and proclaim what's good and what's not? The one thing that we, as a race, universally lack, is self-appraisal. We assume that we are superior and hence, do nothing to uplift ourselves. We lack the spirit to progress. How long can a community sustain itself on its past?
In a state that boasts one of the highest population densities in the country, can you believe that there's not one other top notch city other than Kolkata? Visionaries built new cities in the belief that they would develop around a major industry/ educational institution. 40 years down the line, what do we have? Kharagpur, Kalyani, Durgapur, Siliguri...cities anyone??? If you cross the border to Jharkhand, the land of those utterly contemptible "biharis", you have...let me count...Dhanbad, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro...at least 4 thriving cities. Still, we believe we are a much superior race...so nice and assuring. I'll not even begin to talk about work culture and stuff, that's all too well known, but notice the difference between an establishment run by a bengali and that by a "maru" the next time you are out shopping and you'll know what it is that has left bengal so far behind.I'll continue next time...i didn't even come to the wedding stuff...

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