Turns out my dog is a Bengali after all, despite his Crufts-winning dad and all highfalutin’ pedigree. Picture this – he was sitting very philosophically in the balcony watching the world go by. Then came the noise of some drilling from a flat near by. Chequers IMMEDIATELY gets inside the sitting room and starts barking from there, relentlessly, but refuses to go and face the situation from at least the balcony. No amount of coaxing could get him out. He continues to bark as I write this. True blue bangali…
Of course, nothing this provocative goes unanswered for more than a minute on social media, so while I was still reading the status, this response to it popped up:
This claim — though made in jest — is actually rather graphically true. Our red Marxist victory flag from the 1970s was mostly organically dyed. But revolutions, though we appear to have a fascinated addiction to the idea, usually exclude the possibility of debate — which is the average Bengali’s favourite pastime — and involve a great deal of plebian physical effort, to which the delicate ‘intellectual’ Bengali stereotype is terribly averse. Besides, police, lawyers, courts and hospitals — all of which must sadly be included in anything revolutionary — cost money.
Words, however, are free.
Loquacity and a tireless commitment to comebacks, therefore, are the parsimonious Bengali’s chief weapons*. There are, after all, few things more democratic than crowd-sourcing a personal disagreement. A group will form under a minute, cliques will develop in ten, and all possible opinions on the subject will be served hot to the original interlocutors within twenty. Given the right sort of peeps, the nearby tea-stalls might see a sudden spike in business. Can’t say more republican than that, can you?
Plus, it beats the regular kind of street theatre hollow.
[*A strapping lad from Haryana, with a mint-fresh MBA, was shoved to Calcutta by bosses who obviously hated him. Three weeks here and at the end of his tether, he demandedof my buddy, his colleague, “Yaar, tumlog itna bolte kyun ho? Office mein main pak jata hoon, yaar! Koi ITNA kaise bol sakta hain?”. Apparently, his record was spotless, because he was terrified of getting into a possible argument with his pot-bellied, five-foot-seven Bengali boss]
Now, of course, the lippier amongst you might feel the burning need to point out that the doggie ran indoors, not out, so wherefrom all this public discourse? To which I shall say, with cutting contempt, that drilling tools being a poor recipient of heated recriminatory discourse, the clever beast was merely seeking the company of creatures capable of empathy and yapping-back, if only in an alien, other-species tongue. And the status above is proof that he found it. Thus, heroic left-radical cultural ancestry notwithstanding, the most representative comment on the community’s approach to conflict resolution was best summarised by S, when she said:
Chitkaar korey lok joro kora ekta mosto kaaj. [Screaming your head off to rouse the neighbourhood and whipping up a crowd is an enormous achievement in itself!].