Saturday, August 16, 2008

That Bong feeling

It rained incessantly for the last two days and as I was standing on my balcony with ginger tea, it rained right into my cup. That's when I gave up and told myself I have had enough of palak paneer and roti, I needed some Bengali food into my system, and fast.

I must have cut a sorry figure as I strolled down Chittaranjan Park, sheltering my dripping head with a copy of Robin Cook and in my borrowed torn jeans which have seen better days with my brother.

The people at 'Babu Moshai' - the small Bengali eatery in CR Park - stared at me as I vigorously wiped my head with a handkerchief and barked "one ilish thali... fast!" Yes, my system was already in withdrawal and I needed to push some serious 'pabda' cooked in mustard paste fast.... OR I COULD DIE.

A huge pile of fish bones and a satisfied-but-covert belch later I emerged from the remnants of 'alu posto', 'alu bhaja', 'bhapa chingri', 'rui peti bhaja' and the famous 'pabda machh'. The waiters were cheering me on and the manager had come to watch me eating. If Michael Phelps can, so can I. Eat 12,000 calories a day, I mean.

So I was back home with a packet of 'patishapta' dangling from one elbow (could not do justice to it on a full stomach) and DVDs of black and white Bengali movies on the other.
The rain had let up, the room was dark and a chilly breeze kept blowing in from the balcony.... a cup of elaichi chai in a chipped porcelain cup and I was set for the evening.

For the 809th time I watched 'Saptapadi' and again marvelled at Utpal Dutt's deep, gravelly voice over for Othelo at a college function with Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen (remember Rina Brown?) playing the leads.

When it ended I was all mushy and silly inside so I put on 'Sriman Prithviraaj'. Another classic by Tarun Majumdar where the very talented Utpal Dutt vying for the title of 'Rai Bahadur' from the goras introduces son-in-law Ayan Bannerjee to his British boss as "this is my husband's daughter...iye, my daughter's husband."
He says a fortune teller once told him that he will do great things. "Tumi desher mukh ujjal koribey... translated... you will burn the face of the country."
Why don't they make films like that anymore? Why do modern Bengali movies have to fall back on horrible cliched plots and garish makeup? As I polished off the patishapta at night I said a silent thanks for the things I was missing in Delhi, because I value them that much more.

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2 comments:

Cerebrations said...

can't say that all that fish made me smile... but hey.. good post as always.. check out my recent posts - show me yr halwa!!

Rajtilak Bhattacharjee said...

what do you mean you came out without having "khichudi" on a rainy day! are you losing your bongeveity? i can't even imagine that! by the way, really nice post, making me hungry all over again. so how are your plans for gothic literature going on? do tell me, cause i am seriously interseted.

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