Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When In Bengal, Speak Bengali With Me Plsssss

Okay, let me clarify at the beginning that this is not something I am talking about people who do not speak the language, or even if they do, don't want to. I am talking about my own experience in Kolkata each time I've been visiting. And honestly, I do give myself a little more credit on being a Bangali than the Kolkata Bengalis do.....

 (* found the above sign quite cute, so had to click and share) :-)

Even though I've been born and brought up way away from Bengal all my life and continue to live outside, my parents always spoke to me in our native tongue. Which is why I do know the language (can speak, write and read Bangla, though I must admit it takes me agesssss to read a single page in a bangla book!) Okay, there may be a slight accent to the way I speak Bangla, but that doesn't affect me from trying and speaking it as well as I can.

And I like to flaunt my skills especially when Im in Kolkata. Which is where the locals do the exact opposite the moment I come in contact with them.

Each time I visit a store and try to talk to the people in Bengali, suddenly everyone begins speaking hindi with me! Initially, I thought they were probably mistaken that I couldn't speak the language, and would try and speak in Bangla again...but no...that didn't help much, did it? On and on the cute hindi would go, and I would smile and try and keep up my side of the Bengali chatter.

So there was this store I went to at South City Mall this time I was in Kolkata and this guy just didn't know hindi, but still, that did not deter his enthusiasm in talking to me in Hindi....(am not making fun here, just trying to express the fact that I CAN speak in bangla and will keep trying ;-) )
madam...shundor kaapdaa sale, you want madam?
sale madam.....all product sale madam...achchhaa shundor maal hai madam.
Hmm...aami jaani. Thank you.
madam, membership card madam? take madam..bhaalo aachhey madam
Thank you bhaiya, aami bangla jaani. to tumi please bangla te bolte paaro.
okay madam
madam, aapka baangla achhchha madam
At this stage I just ended up smiling and laughing!
bangla achhchha to bangla te bolo na...
hehe madam....okay madam...

I made the purchase and as I was heading out, the guy waved out to me:
phir aashben madam....
sure....phir aashbo :-)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Anupam Roy - Music, Mania and Butterflies

It was exactly 5pm when I closed the door and put the key in my bag. It was a humid evening in Kolkata, but I wasn’t perspiring from the hide-n-seek of the rain. As I walked down the now-familiar path from the local guest house where I love to stay sometimes, hiding away from the crowd and the faces, I hailed the yellow cab and headed to that so-looked-forward spot, and that oh-so-dreading now place! As the Kolkata buildings and streets started to whizz past, I could feel the butterflies in my tummy…oh no..why was I doing this? Could I still run back?

It was the Anupam Roy concert at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata and I had travelled all the way from Mumbai only for this one evening. I had arrived alone after a 32-hour train journey to the city, and after the concert, was due to fly out the next morning. A cross-country journey, alone, to first time see that man perform live, whose music happened to change my life so significantly – was I being silly?
If anything else, I was sure this was all worth it.

As I entered the green room I was nervous. Of course it wasn’t green, but a wooden feel space with the typical light-bulbs around the mirrors that we’ve seen so many times in movies. Trust me, it gives quite a feel! 
I immediately scanned the room and could see that Anupam was still not there. Instead, there was a live current going on, pre-concert. The entire gang comprising the Anupam Roy band was there - Nabarun Bose (keyboards and background vocals), Sandipan Parial (drums), Roheet Mukherjee and Ronodeep Bose (guitar) and Rana Singharoy and Raja, who manage and look after the entire smooth functioning of the band. Just a few minutes and we were off chatting and singing and fooling around. But my mind was really quite elsewhere. 
How does it feel when you are standing right there where you are about to meet that voice that you’ve been listening to for so long? The voice that told you so many things your heart always kind of knew, but really couldn’t say. Exciting, scary, nervous, confused, shy, tongue-tied, ready to run out the door – just a few feelings that were racing through my entire ‘nervous’ system.
And then……………………….
(* with Anupam Roy and the gang after the performance)
The door opened and a tall fair guy with black-and-red-rimmed glasses, dressed in a black silk kurta and cream corduroys entered. Greetings and chatting and talking about what’s been done, what’s to be done and the usual camaraderie where a lot of young and creative minds are involved. After a smile and a hi, I of course crept to the farthest corner I could without looking too obviously rude. Of course my tongue had decided to get tied at that very moment, and I was trying to come up with a dozen excuses of somehow getting out of there.

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