The last post in this blog was about the many facets of a Bengali being. I had the “misfortune” of spending a week between them. I discovered that the Bengalis can be a generous lot. so long as they believe you are some foreigner, which they thought I was. As soon as I let know I am an Indian like them I became a third class citizen. Never mind the communist lessons of opposing everything from beyond the borders; other than china of course.
My delegation to third class status was largely due to the fact that I could not speak Bengali. A guy at a restaurant chided me “they speak Bengali all over the world “(where except Bangladesh?) And told me “you are Indian, you should know how to speak Bengali”. Can you speak Punjabi? I retorted; the redness of his face hidden by a monkey cap and a dark complexion. He made a face at me and walked off.
The conversation was not entirely futile; it gave me a valuable idea. All those people bombarding me with Bengali were going to be paid back; I was going to talk to everyone in Punjabi!!
So it began, my gang and I waylaid hapless victims and prodded them with the staunchest Punjabi we could find. The going was not all that smooth -here is a step by step account
Victim 1: (a guy by the roadside fixing bicycles)
Me: bhai mandir kede passé hai? (Which way to the temple?)
Victim: kaun mandir jayenge aap? (Which temple do you want to go to?)
Analysis: SHIT! This man was not Bengali but Bihari; they understand Hindi and therefore can get a fix of Punjabi. in any case the word Mandir(temple) was a big give away for him to get a context of what I was saying.
Victim 2: (a group of guys by the road)
Me: ghat kitthe hai? (Where is the river bank?)(I tried to get the accent just right, to move the focuse away from the obvious word ghat (riverbank)
Victim: (pointing in direction of the riverbank)
Analysis; okay I needed to learn and fast. The proper Punjabi accent didn’t come through, I was not to use any words with similar meanings. I was prepared
Victim 3: (middle aged man in a mall)
Me: bhai gande kithe Milange? (Where can I buy onions?)
Victim : (puzzled expression)
Me : -repeat-
Victim; nods his head like he knows it
Me: das!, sir nu ki karda hai ( what with your head, tell me!)
Victim: (does not gets a word but smiles)
And I walk off unable to resist laughing out loud, my gangs already having a wild time behind me laughing their hair off.
And I don’t even eat onions!!
Here are some of the other successful phrases that you can use on almost everyone. these ones met with resounding success.
avda dukhda rone varga kuch nai!( nothing like crying your heart out)
enu labbo te kutto ( grab him and pulp him)(the kutto for pulp was mistaken by many for kutta or Dog so this one is risky!)