Baby T has seldom been exposed to the upbringing quintessential to her Punjabi-Bengali lineage. The culture she has been inured to is a freewheeling mélange of topographical and contemporary influences. She speaks English (absorbed from media) and her habits are a manifestation of lazy (often exempted as corporate) parenting.
The two-and-a-half-year old is now literally sponging everything around her. So, when she got to spend considerable time among more proficient Bongs than I, this is what she picked up:
Bhaat-ghum: The Kolkata Siesta has found an ardent fan in T. The idea has influenced her so deeply that she doesn’t even need the ‘Bhaat’ to initiate the process. Give her a bit of heat and a soporific environment and she would doze off to the deepest day-time slumber known to the history of mankind. For some weird reason, she sleeps neither so readily nor so peacefully at night.
Kol-balish: Speaking of sleeping habits, T took to the kol-balish like a Bong to fish. If you are not a Bong, you probably do not know this critical sleep accessory. It is a bolster, custom made to suit an individual’s height and weight. In fact, I suspect that Nolan’s idea of handling a personalized totem before lunging into deep dreams is heavily inspired by the Bengali Kol-balish. T has always struggled with channelizing her limbic energy during sleep – kicking the hell out of us. The kol-balish has come to a wondrous rescue.
Jol-khabar: Bongs are always munching. We owe our voluptuous, callipygian bodies to the extra work we enforce on our teeth. The obsession spills beyond the customary meals of the day to varied meals in between that keep the gastronomic process ceaseless. These undefined and obscure meals are termed jol-khabar. T’s otherwise lukewarm response to food took a backseat in the face of ‘muri-makha’ and ‘beguni’
Sursuri: I was very confused when early in my marriage, I cozied up to my husband and asked him romantically to give ‘sursuri’ and got nothing in response. I was confident all I lacked was an apt word for the action. But to my utter surprise, despite many demonstrations, what I got was a weird scratching that is not acceptable in the elevated altar of ‘Sursuri’. In fact, according to him, there is no word in Hindi to define this soft, lulling stroking of the skin that can put a rhinoceros to sleep. Appalling! Well, T has taken a fancy to it, which means – “welcome daddy to the world of learning how to give great sursuri”.
Three cheers to Bong idiosyncrasies. Can’t wait to explore T’s innate Punjabi side (besides the expressed love for ‘Doodh’ and ‘Palatha’) as we gear up for our trip to the north of India!