November 20, 2016


Rock n’ roll is about attitude and rebellion. It’s supposed to be fun and spontaneous.

Most of the people miss the roll in rock n roll music and the makers of Rock on 2 have managed to do just that. What promised to be a great sequel (we all loved Rock On didn’t we?) in the form of a great rock movie turned out to be a geriatric whimper in the guise of a lullaby that almost put me to sleep. Rock Yawn 2!
No wonder the woman next to me was whispering MAAGO when Farhan was singing JAAGO.
Forgive me if I appear harsh but allow me to explain. I did spend my hard earned money to watch that movie disguised as a rock flick . I also had to stand in a queue to withdraw that money (my own hard earned money) and believe me, it hurts!
Let me explain why it hurts.
Where’s the conflict dude?
Rock On 2 was characteristic in terms of the absence of a conflict. Rock is conflict after all and it is common knowledge that film is all about conflict; man against man, man against circumstance, man against nature etc etc.
Here, Farhan Akhtar decides to hole up in a remote village abandoning his family just because a struggling musician killed himself; a person he knew vaguely. (the son of the sarod player gets my vote for best actor in this film) No wonder rock stars get a bad name! Instead, they should have killed both Prachi Desai and Shahana Bajpayee instead of a classical stalker to make the remorse natural and to avoid embarrassment about the fact that these two fine actresses got bit roles in the sequel.
The script was predictable and had too many flaws. Hey the sick Mr. Akhtar needs a rock doctor. Ok. no problem. Just send over the girl whose brother killed himself because his daddy didn’t like his music and as Mr. Akhtar wouldn’t listen to his tape. Erm how do we make the girl land up in Mr. Akhtar’s village man? No sweat baby. She can come in to record some local music on her daddy’s tape recorder. Strict daddy doesnt even know she aint in town till he watches her pop up on tv. I mean rock on tv. Total siyapa!
Am I the only one who thought the sarod player looked like Sanjeev Kumar in Sholay? The way he had his hands under his shawl all the time and refused to play the sarod, he did resemble Thakur in a way. Wonder what he was playing at?
Where was Luke Kenny? At least he looked the part of a rocker. He just did a guest appearance in that Farah Khan number that looked like a cute prom dance. Did he kill himself too in the film? I beg your pardon. I must have overslept. Thanks for killing Joe the guitar player and making him a celebrity judge. He deserved it! Oh the pain!
Shraddha Kapoor didn’t fit the part of a rock star at all. It took just one phone call from her sarod yielding dad spewing ‘ye kya music hai?’ for her to get stage fright and run away? Aoooooo! Unconvincing I say. May the ghosts of Janis Joplin, Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks RIP. I’m sure they are having a good laugh even as we yawn.
Rock tip: You might sing like an angel, but that doesn’t make you a rock star.
The difference between pop music and rock music is that while pop has a steady beat, rock has a variable beat. Well, that’s just one difference. But the narrative in Rock On 2 was neither steady nor variable, sadly. In the near future, when kids refuse to sleep, parents are certain to say- so ja warna Rock On 2 chala doonga!
You see, rock and roll isn’t a career or hobby – it’s a life force. It’s something very essential. In the immortal words of Led Zep- You need cooling, go back to schooling.
Rock doctor Akhtar, watch Jack Black in School of Rock. JAAGO!


November 6, 2015

                                                                                     CITY OF BHOY

                                                                                  By Swayam Ganguly



This city

Isn’t what it used to be!

Blocks of steel and concrete growing

All around me

Packed with people and machines of every kind

A quiet place is hard to find…

Is it too late now to make it change?


Song: City Blues

Band: 13 AD

Album: Ground Zero


We are proud of our city just as we should be. We defend our city blindly and cry ourselves hoarse whenever someone, especially an outsider, chooses to criticize Kolkata by calling it the capital of Waste Bengal. But just between us Bongs, one has to admit that there are areas that demand serious attention.

These five basic issues that need to be addressed (among many others of course) make the City of Joy the City of Bhoy (fear) for the common man. The fear is not always life threatening, mind you, and the five issues revolve around everyday life. But that is precisely what makes them so bloody important. Mostly, all of us turn a blind eye to them when we are not directly affected. But it certainly would make life much easier and better if these issues were resolved.

It is time to take the bull by the horns and the fish by the tail without depending on anyone else. Frankly, if we ever hope to develop in the near future both as a state as well as part of a nation, these five problems are scary! They are also co-related more so for the common man than the privileged few.

  1. Transport Blues

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Somehow, the taxi driver and the cab driver have become the most hated men on the Kolkata passenger list. They share joint first place with the politician in close second. The taxi driver of the dinosaur like yellow cab has been thankfully outsmarted with Uber, Ola and company sniffing a good business opportunity and rolling down the highway. But for people unarmed with smart phones, the yellow cab drivers are still a nightmarish reality with their refusal to travel, their rigged meters and their persistent demand for more money.

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I always thought that a taxi was defined as a vehicle that took you to the destination you wanted to go and not where the taxi-driver wanted to go. But sadly, they are not the ambassadors of free movement. Maybe we should just paint the yellow taxis black! I mean, why should I pay you extra just because it’s night time? My clients would ask me to take a walk if I asked them for extra money just because I work at night. This problem becomes Bhoyabaho when you need a cab during a medical emergency and find none. I’m still waiting for that cab driver who says, “Aa ja meri gaari mein baith ja” instead of “wahaan nahin jayenge”, “khaana khane ka time hai”, “50 rupees extra lagega”, “blah blah black sheep.” Nonsense person!


The auto-wallahs on the other hand are extremely irritating with their demand for exact change (khuchro). If the fare is seven rupees, a ten rupee note just won’t do. You have to shell out the exact change or out you go! The war of words that follows this demand is rather stressful and sometimes passenger and auto wallah redefine and rediscover each other’s family history. In Bong slang we call it ma maashi manush ek kora! But beware as the syndicate of the auto union has a history of beating up passengers that is worse than the mafia. They are really good at kicking passenger ass. The gas cylinders at the back of the three legged vehicle also resemble weapons of ass destruction.

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Sometimes, these two above mentioned species decide not to work at all! Strike! As a result, even though it is not Bijoya Dashomi, people are doing Kolakuli (hugging each other) in the Metro and buses.


Speaking of the Metro, any idea when the famed East-West Metro project nears completion? It’s more like ‘East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet’ right now. It reminds me of Milan Kundera’s book ‘Slowness’ (I shall finish it someday)

Maybe we should build our bridges like the Chinese do; with machines instead of men and instantly. Built to last, of course!

SUGGESTED SOLUTION: Take the tube and walk! That’s what I do. The Metro saves time and the walk provides the exercise. Call it middle class morality.

KHUCHRO SOLUTION: Tell the auto driver to keep the change if he keeps babbling and walk away with your head held high. I did that once and he came running after me with the change. Don’t do that with the cab driver. They never return.

  1. Lack of Cleanliness

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Cleanliness? What’s that?

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Congratulations! We have been officially declared as one of the dirtiest metros in the world. Soon, tourists shall take selfies near our open garbage dumps that puke trash all the time and we shall pee on merrily by the side of the streets.

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Cleanliness comes from a spirit of ownership actually. If you really loved this city, you wouldn’t dirty it, inviting disease and death. You wouldn’t pee on the walls within your own home would you? Neither would you spit inside your house. All gutka barons should give chaanda to create spittoons (pikdaans and thukdaans) on every street!

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Fear Factor- Beware of the Ebola Virus Disease! (ok, I confess I don’t know exactly what that means but it certainly sounds fearsome)

I don’t believe in the awareness theory at all! If buro damras, chyangras, intellectuals and bhadroloks have to be made aware that we need to keep our city clean, we should all drown in the Gonga. Fine them I say! A rupee for a pee, maybe! (No wait, that’s how much a public toilet charges. Shame on you guys. If I was in power, I’d hire archers to shoot the offenders where it hurt the most. But then you’d brand me as a dictator.)

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Suggested Solution: I love what kids in some schools are doing! They are painting the walls and even the worst offender won’t think about peeing on a work of art. (I think) Well, religion is big everywhere. Let’s just adorn the neighborhood walls with Gods and Goddesses.


If you can’t draw (like me), you can always write whacko lines like “If you urinate here it will be held against you!” (Not sure if that can be translated into Bangla though)

  1. Healthcare problems

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We are probably the only city in the world with a sick healthcare system. (Pun intended). Like Black Eyed Peas sang, “Where is the love?” I want to sing aloud “Where is the care?” whenever I enter a hospital. It’s probably the only service industry where service is poor even though you pay before being served. Maybe we should just edit the term to Health!

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Government hospitals are overburdened like donkeys bearing the weight of numerous patients who cannot afford private hospitals. In comparison, the private hospitals seem to glitter and grin like monsters as you enter them. But beware! They have been specifically built to squeeze you like lemon and benefit from your illness. Got Mediclaim? Truly, health is wealth!

It’s so difficult to get an appointment with an established doctor. When you finally get that appointment, the doctor conveniently travels aboard. My dad’s doctor, Doctor Dhar, does the vanishing act better than Houdini. Onake dhora jayna! In his defence, he’s a damn good doctor except when he’s absent of course.

Kolkata mein doctor ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai!


Suggested Solution: Add the doctor if he’s on Facebook and pester him with messages. Mail him/her with your sob story persistently if he isn’t. You can also send him Alfonso mangoes, chanachur, pickle, sweets etc. to win him/her over to your side.

  1. Unemployment

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It’s a pity that jobs are scarce in the city. Isn’t it strange that people from the city have to go and work in the suburbs instead of the other way round? That’s Kolkata for you!

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The people that leave Kolkata to graze on greener pastures really give people like us a complex when they come vacationing. They use the purchasing power of their foreign currency to engage in ostentation that we would not even dream of. But seriously, it’s time to create some jobs in the city. Enough of jokes like -Getting a good job in Kolkata is like discovering water in the morubhumi! The city has been deserted by many as it is.

Suggested Solution: Create jobs! Be self employed. Do not look down upon any kind of work. That’s half the battle won.

  1. Angry Birds

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There’s too much rage against the machine floating around! People are resorting to abusing each other and fisticuffs at the slightest provocation. From women threatening the bus conductor to the bus conductor shouting at a passenger to the passenger abusing a cab driver, it’s all happening here! Sometimes, just traveling can be so stressful I forget why I stepped out in the first place. How about using humour and sarcasm instead of rage? If it works for me, it’ll work for you!


Try singing Rabindrasangeet as it will surely calm the aggressor. The music of the bard will surely calm the angry bird! Remember that tolerance is not restricted to allowing people to eat the meat of their choice and screaming that the common man is being discriminated against. Do not indulge in violence on any account. That is for the weak. Let’s bring back the warmth of the common man/woman on the streets of Kolkata! Let’s bring back love! No Bhoy, long live the City of Joy!


Suggested Solution: Do not walk away when you witness an argument or a fight on the street! Step right in and sort it out. You’ll feel good if you succeed.

Disclaimer: None of the suggested solutions should be attempted by amateurs. You see, that is precisely why they have been suggested. If you choose to do so, do it at your own risk. 

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October 25, 2015


These characters are not fictitious mostly. Any resemblance to actual nannies is not regretted.


Old English Definition of Ayah: A nursemaid or nanny native to India and employed by Europeans.

Definition of Nanny: A nanny, child minder, child care provider, or mother’s helper (the last designation not to be confused with the slang term “mother’s little helper,” denoting a tranquilizer pill) is an individual who provides care for one or more children in a family as a service.

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Raising a child in today’s turbulent world is no child’s play! Nanny to the rescue you say? What Nanny? All I get are ayahs. But finding a good nanny is just like Finding Neverland. Besides, there are no nannies in our country anyway. That’s just the polite term for Ayah. It would be however wrong to state that all the ayahs who took care of my child were inefficient. A few were extremely capable till they chose to graze on greener pastures. But with the good cometh the bad, and sometimes also rears its ugly head. Here are five Nanny Horror stories that I experienced as a parent. The truth can finally be revealed. Let the skeletons tumble from the closet. Enjoy!


'I think I'm a kleptomaniac.'

‘I think I’m a kleptomaniac.’

We never realized Klepto Nanny was pinching stuff on the sly as she was cleverer than us. She was hired when a family member was hospitalized and it was sheer wrong timing. But her timing was impeccable just like a good batsman and she never batted an eyelid when we questioned her about small things gone missing. Thankfully, even professionals make mistakes and she emptied my wife’s wallet one day (big mistake, silly woman) after she couldn’t find any money in mine (most of it went in paying her, you see) Bye Klepto Nanny! We never liked you anyway. Keep the change!



This one chose to pinch my baby’s bottom instead of pinching stuff when no one was looking. But she forgot about Hawk Eye (me) although I took some time to realize what she was doing. I shall never forgive this woman as she taught my son the art of pinching people; an art he practices till date with methodical regularity. To all those who have been pinched by him, believe me, it causes me more pain than you. I console myself with the thought that maybe someday pinching will be declared an extreme sport, providing gainful employment. But sometimes, even the thought hurts. I hope that the stray dogs of war chase Pyscho Nanny thinking she’s a vehicle when she walks home at night so that she falls in a pond of damnation or something. Make that a shallow pond!



This one was a pucca Ayah Memsaab who used to arrive late and leave before time. Maybe this was because she was married to an auto driver who was responsible for picking her up and dropping her. I think she dreamed of a better life which explains why she stared out of the window despondently while my son destroyed stuff in the kitchen and the milk boiled over. I saw Dreamy Nanny sitting in her husband’s auto after she had quit our employ one day. I forget if she quit or was sacked but that’s inconsequential. She didn’t see me of course; her eyes had a distant, dreamy, faraway look. May all her dreams come true someday!


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We literally paid this nanny to sleep. She was also hollow in the head and never followed instructions. Even a stone possesses a higher IQ than Sleepy Hollow Nanny. Actually, I suspect that she might have been stoned to be sleeping all the time. Her excuse was that she watched television till late night. When she wasn’t working or watching television at our place, she was always dozing off, which was most of the time. I suspect she was capable of the singular feat that only a few animals possess (no humans do); that of sleeping while in a standing position.


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Thank God we didn’t employ Spy Nanny. She was impressive at first speech as she spoke impeccable English. This one was more nanny than ayah. But why would someone with a decent education want to work as an ayah? I smelled a rat! She explained that her family had fallen on hard times and she desperately needed a job. On a whim, we asked the ayah center if she had submitted her pan card and voter id card. It turned out that she hadn’t and had been referred to the center by a person they vaguely knew. No one could spot the person or the ayah after she was asked for her documents.

A newspaper article had stated about extremist groups infiltrating unsuspecting families with their member women so that they had a safe place to lie low when times were bad. I had thought the article to be farfetched then. I don’t any longer. Beware of spy nannies!

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To all working parents looking for a nanny, all I can say is choose wisely. A good nanny is the key to happiness! She is also elusive most of the time just like the Goddess of Wealth!




October 6, 2015

STATUTORY WARNING: This article has been written with the intention to provide a few laughs and for promotional purposes. It will not help you get a job on any account.

DISCLAIMER: The author does not subscribe to the views of any political party.


“How pathetic it is to describe these things which can’t truly be described.” 

Interview with the Vampire


          It’s not the job I hate. It’s the bloody interview- Swayam Ganguly


“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
Zig Ziglar


I always enter interview rooms like Leander Paes enters the tennis court although I exit rather differently. I always take my leave with the singular thought in my mind- WTF?


Although I have been following the Gujarat model of making money by being self-employed for many years now (JOY MODI DA), I always make it a point to attend job interviews as and when they happen. They almost brighten up my dreary existence and help me escape domestic duties. A true gentleman always responds to nature’s calls and interview calls. I forgot who said that! Remember, success is nothing but the accumulated failure in interview rooms. I don’t remember who said that either, but each interview I have attended is etched in the memory just like the stain of permanent ink on paper.

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I must confess that my dread for interviews remains constant even after all these years of experience. Like an iron particle attracted towards a particularly powerful magnet, I float towards interview rooms as and when they beckon me. I have met some of the nicest people during these interviews and also many who have almost perfected the art of being assholes. Some are still learning, of course. I met a man once who advised me to stick to writing and direction as I was good at it and not enter the radio industry as it supposedly killed creativity. WTF? (That’s just a polite way of saying ‘you don’t fit the job profile’ is my guess)

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Another radio head (or was it business head) conducted an interview with me on Skype. He resembled Lucifer with a magnetic personality as he sat there and scowled at me and smiled at me sometimes. Girls walked by his chair saying something that sounded vaguely like “Phir se kisi ki le raha hai” or something on those lines. My hopes sank as there was a power cut and the bright light in my dark room dimmed a bit even with the inverter in operation. “Why is it so dark there?” he growled as if I worked for CESC and it was all my fault. “I can’t see your face properly.”

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“Everything is dark in West Bengal,” I couldn’t help but say. He easily qualified to become the worst interviewer I have ever faced as after I met him in person, I was convinced that it was the last interview I would ever attend after being utterly humiliated and insulted. I also pitied his wife. It was worse than an interview with a vampire and affected me so much that I, a rare lover of interviews, actually took a sabbatical from them for over a year. Personally, I don’t believe in revenge. So, I shall let nature take its own course and hope fervently that he burns in hell while heavy metal plays in the background slowly. Die mf Die! Huaah!    

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I must confess I am always honest during interviews. Perhaps it is because I derive a devilish kick in being honest more than the fact that I actually am. Do not be honest under any circumstance unless you are crazy like me. Chances are, you won’t land that job. But be honest about your feelings. Screw those people who advise you not to eat or drink anything that’s offered to you during yourselves. Show them you are starving and they’ll hire you! You work to fill your stomach don’t you? Also, the act of eating or drinking together bonds the interviewer and interviewee. Well, that’s how I defend the act although I strictly stick to coffee.  


There was this lady (I think that she’s still there) who once asked me if I would leave the organization if I was offered double the salary. “Of course! What would you do?”I asked her. Sadly, she did not have a sense of humor and nor did she appreciate honesty. The end result was that her company lost out on a brilliant recruit who could have taken the organization to dazzling new heights with his sheer brilliance- Me! (Ok. I just said that to console myself)  

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The lady in question also asked me Nehru Style (no pun intended- I’m referring to his 5 year plans, please) where I saw myself five years from then. The Mayans had predicted that the world would be destroyed that very year and I pointed out the same to her. If it was actually true, there was no point in a five year plan, I said. It turned out that she was right and the Mayans were wrong. Prophecies and trick questions, I tell you! I shall never buy a Mayan calendar! I still don’t believe in five year plans though. I’m taking it easy. I’m taking it as it comes!


I always pray my intelligence won’t be insulted and I won’t be subjected to questions like- Why do you want to join us? and What can you do for us? Questions like these remind me of an interview in a barber shop I was lucky enough to witness once. The man who was cutting my hair happened to be conducting the interview and I was in perpetual fear that he would pierce my skull Sweeny Todd style as he was in an agitated state while interviewing a prospective barber. I told Edward Scissorhands aka Babumoshai to get it over with and return to the job. I was astonished as the hair-raising questions put forth by the barber to his snip-snip candidate were far more logical than the ones they asked me at interviews.  


Come to think of it, it hasn’t been bad at all! During the course of these amazingly enlightening interviews over the years, I have managed to evolve as a human being, gain a fair understanding about human behavior, write three novels ( the third begins with an interview), set up a content shop for publishers, make a few corporate films and tried to take care of my son. The last has been particularly trying although I’m still trying.

The perfect job has been elusive but happiness hasn’t. But I must warn the recruiters that just like good wine, my market value is on the rise as I age. Last but not the least I’d like to thank all those people who hosted me during those extremely educational interviews. Thanks guys! You have all inspired me to write a novel that begins with an interview. (So what if it’s still unpublished)  I’m still hopeful and optimistic though, just like Rakhi Gulzar’s character in Karan Arjun. Whenever I get an interview call, I sing to my wife – Acche din aayenge!





July 31, 2015

                                                                            A SUITABLE BOY?                                

                                                             IN DEFENSE OF THE BENGALI MAN

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                                                                            By Swayam Ganguly


I had an argument with Miss Bumkin recently. Miss Bumkin is a friend on social media who has been fortunate enough (money wise) to experience two divorces in her lifetime. Recently, Miss Bumkin had met an agreeable Bengali man at a rock concert in her country and is contemplating marriage again. (Twice bitten and still not shy I say)

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But she had heard that Bong men are not good husband material.

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I somehow managed to convince her that assumption was the mother of all problems in life and in the event that she chose a Bong man for a husband, she was definitely going to be third time lucky. (Not money wise of course)

It is common knowledge that Vikram Seth could have never penned his iconic novel ‘A Suitable Boy’ if not for the Bengali man. Miss Bumkin tried reading the voluminous book after my cajoling but abandoned the effort after three fifty pages. There are numerous reasons why a Bengali man is good international husband material, I argued my case.


It is time somebody stood up in defense of the Bengali husband as he has been wrongly accused of being servile, spineless, docile, lazy and all of the above. 

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Please find 5 heavenly reasons attached below for your perusal, Miss Bumkin. As Jim da rightly sang, “The time to hesitate is through…no time to wallow in the mire.”



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 Chances are, the rare breed I’m talking about will tell you that the song mentioned above was written by Robbie Krieger and not by Jim Morrison. If you don’t get it, don’t bother reading any further. The doors of perception are hereby closed. But the Bong man is the perfect mate for a music lover as he knows his music like the back of his hand. If he can’t sing or play the guitar, you can be rest assured that he can at least play the tabla or conjure ten lines on paper praising your beauty. This includes original lyrics, amateur poetry as well as ‘o go bideshini’ of course. It’ll be more creative than ‘You’re my pumpkin Miss Bumpkin’ for sure that your ex-husband had written for you.

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So what if you ain’t that beautiful Miss Bumkin. It’s the thought that counts!

It is just too bad that the fiddle is not part of the Bong musical ensemble. It would be the perfect musical instrument for the Bengali man. You see, Miss Bumkin, we keep playing second fiddle to our women especially in the domestic scheme of things. That is precisely why goddesses feature primarily on our worship agenda than the gods.

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A Bong man turns to music as a relief from the tyrannical oppression of the women in his household. The music is the perfect aphrodisiac to calm them down, you see. No wonder that the tabla and the harmonium and off late the electric guitar is the constant companion of the musical Bong male.



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 Did you know that all Bong men are mamma’s boys, Miss Bumkin? You roll your eyes in horror? Let me point out the advantages. They are mamma’s boys only till the time they are married. But as soon as they tie the knot, the mamma’s apron is loosened and he is your slave for life. You won’t even have to push him to do the dishes every alternate day. Chances are he’ll do so himself. Bong men are conditioned to help around the house as they have grown up seeing their fathers and grandfathers do the same. It’s only that the key responsibility areas have become more demanding today. Savvy eh? You might have to deal with the lioness mamma once in a blue moon but chances are he’ll take your side in a dispute. You earn in dollars after all! Besides, that American accent will scare his mother off.



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You have a great appetite don’t you Miss Bumkin? I’m sure this appetite also involves food among other things. A Bengali is the best man to marry if you are a foodie. Bongs are obsessed with food and have a sweet tooth as well. You love fish and chips you say? Perfect! We love cheap fish too.

A Bong knows his fish and be rest assured that he will introduce you to some mouthwatering dishes. He’ll cook most of them as well as you are not qualified enough to cook stuff like Dab Chingri and Shorshe Ilish. Besides, most Bong guys who live away from home know how to cook as they cannot live without their maacher jhol, shadher lau and kosha mangsho among other things.



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You can show off your Bengali man to all your friends, Miss Bumkin. It’ll be just like the Roman times when the best slaves were displayed proudly to close acquaintances. Don’t be offended by the analogy, Miss Bumkin. Just like Roman slaves were the best so are Bong husbands is what I was trying to imply. He speaks the Queen’s English whereas most men you know speak haltingly in half sentences. You can be rest assured that he will impress one and all in your social gatherings with his charming vocabulary.  

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You have a slight tummy don’t you Miss Bumkin? Oh you call that a ‘muffin top’ in your part of the world don’t you? Well, I got good news for you. Most Bengali men have pot bellies (some look like they are smuggling footballs beneath their shirts) thanks to the high-calorie diet and most Bong men actually like ‘muffin tops’ in a woman secretly instead of that anorexic look and women with zero plus figures.

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Remember, Miss Bumkin, even the greatest Gods like Lord Shiva have to lie down to appease the Goddess Kali in our land. Your Bong husband will be more than willing to lie down for you whenever you want. Why, if you love him truly, madly and deeply, he might lay down his life for you as well. (What a waste that would be)


Remember Miss Bumkin, with a Bong as a husband you can never go wrong! You shall rock and you shall roll. Ullash!   






June 1, 2015

By Swayam Ganguly

For those who came in late, did you know that Christian priests in ancient times sold tickets to the public that would eventually book them a place in heaven? Politicians replaced the priests gradually and the unsuspecting people were led astray again.

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But it is high time that we question the legitimacy and the blind faith that we place on superstitions before they consume us totally. We must do so if we have any hope of progressing and stepping into the developed, scientific world.

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We Indians sure are a superstitious bunch. We stop our vehicles on the road if a cat crosses our path. Many of us would curse a cripple or a beggar if he or she cut short our journey but we would not dare to do anything to the sacred cow or bull if it squatted on the road or stood before our vehicles. Someone called Alexander the Great rightly said, “It’s a strange land, O Selucus!”

But the best has been reserved for the West! We Bongs are perhaps one of the most superstitious people in this strange country. Personally, I hate superstition although I don’t claim to be scientific either. But I absolutely detested the girl next door singing ‘One for sorrow, two for joy, three for letter and four for toy!’ I hope the old bird reads this! “O ma! Ak shalik!”

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Bongs are superstitious about cutting nails and hair as well. Days of the week are reserved for doing so as well as not doing so. You can’t do so after sunset as well and this fear of the dark syndrome is also applicable when one is sweeping and swabbing the floors. One of my favourites is the one that states that if you step over a sleeping person, his growth gets affected and he doesn’t grow taller. This is definitely hogwash as I’ve tried this on my elder brother when he was asleep. I cannot look him in the eye now. (He’s two inches taller than me you see)

Here are 5 famous and funny Bengali superstitions that have perplexed me ever since I was a kid. I choose to laugh at them now. Enjoy!


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Ancient Bong belief states that a person is destined to become king or queen if a lizard chooses to fall on your head. Well, it’s all balderdash as a lizard landed on my head when I was a kid. My grandmother excitedly informed me about my royal fate and I immediately stopped studying after that. What was the use of exerting my brains when I was going to be king anyway? Look where I landed up. Moral of the story: Superstitions, grandmothers and lizards can be great stumbling blocks career wise. So, next time you feel a lizard’s going to land on your head, just step aside smartly.

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Old Bengali saying prohibits you to sneeze when a person (friend or family) is leaving your house. If you let off a sneeze at that precise moment when the relative cheerfully waves goodbye, he or she is invited back into the house and made to sit on the furniture for a while before leaving again. The sneeze is considered to bring bad luck to the person who is embarking on the journey just as Pichu Daka (calling out to the person when his or her back is turned while leaving)

It is mentionable here that a sudden coughing fit indicates that someone is talking about you. Good or bad is up to your imagination!

As a lark, I went on a sneezing fit once when I was of impressionable age. This was to detain a loved relative who was leaving our home. Well, I succeeded as the relative missed his train. But the snuff box which I had stolen and which caused the sneezes was discovered and I received a sound thrashing. I have never sneezed at exit points after that and I refuse to believe in this theory either. You leaving already? Ahchooo!



For a Bong, three is positively unlucky. A Bong will never say, “Mujhe teen cheez pasand hai…” It’s more like ‘One two ka four!’

Neither will he or she give you three things intentionally. You will never be served food that adds up to three or served three drinks. Three in any form is considered to be a bad omen and unlucky for that relationship. Even when Bongs are smoking three cigarettes are never lit with a single matchstick. Three is definitely a crowd!


  1. WOMEN

Let’s digress from the issue and talk seriously about superstition on a national level now. Indian women are the most affected by superstition but ironically their engagement is the maximum. Menstruating women are perceived to be impure and unclean throughout India actually and are banned from kitchens, temples and other religious places. Some fools claim that this is a scientific superstition but I beg to disagree. Whoever heard of a scientific superstition anyway? This is just a classic example of patriarchy encouraged and followed by women themselves. Have the feminists protested about this? Well, I haven’t heard them loud and clear. Mirror superstitions are interesting as well but they require individual attention and nearly two pages of nonsense. So, we’ll break the mirror another time.

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The saddest superstition that still exists involves widows. Traditionally, widow remarriage is not permitted in many parts of the country and they are forced to wear white. Thankfully, the scenario in the cities has changed drastically over the years. This issue needs to be dealt with immediately as it is a social stigma that stops us from progressing. Why isn’t a widower unlucky and inauspicious? I’m as stumped as you are!


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This one is the silliest of them all! If I have an itch in one eye, I am not supposed to scratch it and expose the other eye. “You can’t show one eye dear!” (I’m not talking about winking) Then, one is supposed to blink both eyes simultaneously to nullify the effect. What nonsense! Don’t show one eye as it will result in a fight. Well, bring it on! A fight seems easier somehow! Then there’s the curious case of the twitching of the eye. The amount of superstition associated with a mere spasm in the eye is amazing.

  • Eye twitching denotes the arrival of a guest. So does the arrival of a crow. No wonder that we keep chasing crows away as it’s impolite to engage in such behavior with a guest. But with the steady increase of inflation, the day might not be far away.
  • If your feet itch, you will travel somewhere. Whatever!
  • Left eye twitching is supposedly good for women and the reverse holds good for men in some parts of the world. The opposite is applicable in other parts. It’s all confusing really! So, I’ll stop at that.

I like the part about the right hand itching though! It supposedly indicates that money is about to come in. Now, that’s always welcome. I can feel the itch now. Damn! What’s my Net banking password?




May 27, 2015

                                                                    THE BIG BONG THEORY  PART 2


                                                                       By Swayam Ganguly




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A non-Bengali friend pointed out to me recently that it was really funny how we Bongs tend to mix up our ‘v’ and ‘w’ as if she was making the discovery of the century! But I had to be polite as the person in question was a voman (woman) and any argument would be in wain (vain)

I must admit that we Bongs love to laugh at ourselves but the moment someone from outside Best Bengal criticizes us, it really hearts (hurts) us.

“Why do you guys pronounce Vicks as Bicks?” she commenced her interrogation.

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“My dear”, I protested mildly. “This is a new language we Bongs have discovered. It’s called Benglish! Besides, what can be done? We don’t have a bloody V in Bangla.”

“Then tell me why most of you pronounce Risk as Riks?” she demanded. I also pointed out that mispronouncing words was a common trend by people in English speaking countries as well. San Jose was often pronounced without the silent J, Antarctic became Antartic sometimes, Espresso became Expresso, Breakfast was pronounced as Breakfirst and even Pronunciation became Pronounciation. So this was hardly a local phenomenon.

“Oh come on!” she laughed. “Surely you jest! Benglish?”

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“If American English is good in America, then I’m afraid Benglish shall rule hair (here),” I replied. “If you have a poblem (problem) you might complain to our Big Sister, who rules Waste, sorry Best sorry West Bengal carrently (currently). I am shure (sure) that she will say- Bhee the peepul hab the right to talk in Benglish. Those who make fun of us are part of a CPM chokranto (conspiracy)

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My friend didn’t bring up the topic after that. We always drop our Big Sister’s name when we are unable to win an argument with outsiders. Somehow, it always works! But I must admit it’s not pleasant on the ears when a Bong asks for Andarfent (underpant) in a Jockey shop and a television director is overheard saying sheen (scene) and sot (shot)

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If he can say sheen why can’t he say shot and if he can say sot why can’t say scene if you know what I mean. Savvy eh? But English is a funny language for sure! It is not very consistent in the sense that different people speak it differently throughout the world and in England as well. So why should we be any exception? It’s not exactly our first language. In fact, in most cases it is our second or even third language. So why should we care two hoots about perfection or the way we speak it? After all, we do not want to impress an English speaking world by speaking English the way they do or by writing like Jhumpa Lahiri. We’ll speak as well as write it the way we want to as we wish to use English mostly as a vehicle of communication and not to sow off. (show off) At least in West Bengal and India, we can speak it well enough for people to understand us. A person visiting from abroad is not as lost as in say Thailand or Japan. Chinese English is enough to bring down the Great Wall of China.

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So please don’t laugh the next time you hear, “My hard dicks has crashed saar and I am anabelle to shave anything!” At least we don’t have a failure to communicate! Don’t take extra chhap! It’s Benglish and it’s the thought that counts! Remember, Big Sister is watching you!






May 24, 2015



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                                                 STATUTORY WARNING: BEWARE OF FORCED FEEDING



                                                                        An observation by Swayam Ganguly



En route home yesterday evening, I observed a massive queue outside the mutton shop. The mutton seller and his assistants were in frenzied activity and yet the queue showed no sign of abating. I recalled an ancient tale of Rakshashas emerging from every drop of blood that was spilled from the body of a certain demon. Well, this queue was somewhat like that. With each goat being slain five humans seemed to appear instantly and lengthen the queue further.

“They must be stupid or crazy or both to consume mutton in this extreme heat!” I remarked to an acquaintance.

“Well, it’s Jamai Shoshthi after all,” the acquaintance replied.


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That’s when it hit me that it was son-in-law day the day after. Every ‘shoshur-bari’ would treat its ‘jamai’ or son-in-law with the choicest of delicacies so that he would treat their daughter with love and care for the rest of the year. Not fair, if you ask me! You feed the son-in-law only once a year and you expect him to feed your daughter for the rest of the year! Not exactly Quid Pro Quo!


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But the food that is served more than makes up for it as special, mouth watering Bong dishes are served like prawn malaikari, shorshe ilish, mutton kosha and special jamaishoshthi sondesh to name just a few. The word Jamai is evocative of a special relationship that is very close to the heart after all! Today is Jamai Ador day!

Maa Shoshthi is a goddess who is not as celebrated as her more famous counterparts like Maa Durga and Kali but her importance cannot be denied. Although she is a minor goddess, she reigns supreme as a guardian angel. The role essayed by her is major as she holds the important portfolio of childbirth and the health of mothers and their new-born children. She is also the goddess of fertility and invoked when young couples are desirous of starting a family.

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But how is the jamai or son-in-law associated with Maa Shoshthi? You may ask!

Well, since a child is not possible without the divine intervention of the son-in law no matter how many Gods and Goddesses you might as well worship, it was decided by the wise guys that the jamai had to be fitted into the scheme of things and brought under the divine grace of Maa Shoshthi. The only solution that could be derived was to dedicate an entire day to him and the goddess and serve him delicacies till he begged for mercy, thus pleasing the Goddess as well. Most women like a man screaming for mercy after all! Thus, Jamai Shoshti came into existence!

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There are rituals as well but somehow they all seem inconsequential when compared to the food. But be ready for force feeding!

My earliest and most vivid memory of Jamai Shoshthi was when I rode pillion on my father’s ancient Lamberetta scooter to visit my grandmother (arguably the best cook in the world)

By the way, that’s not my dad! That’s just a pic I googled and found 😉

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The feast she prepared was fit for an Emperor and the menu was revealed gradually as we ate. This added to the suspense as the meal began with shukto and rice, moving on gastronomically towards cholar daal, ilish maach bhaja and vegetarian dishes. Oh, did I mention the five types of crispy vegetable fries? The heavier dishes followed the lighter dishes. As a rule, mutton was always served last and all types of fish were served before that. The meal usually ended with a sweet and sour chutney, mishti doi, sweets and paan. Ah! It’s good to be Bong sometimes!


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SAMPLE MENU CARD (my faves of course)


  • Ghee served with hot steaming rice
  • Deep fried Luchi and cholar daal (chick pea lentil)
  • Crispy fried potatoes (aloo bhaja) and fried brinjal (begun bhaaja)
  • Potato and cauliflower (fried or curried) Aloo Fulkopir torkaari
  • Chanar dalna (cheese balls in gravy) or matar paneer.





  • Fish chop (cutlet)
  • Potoler dorma ( pointed gourd stuffed with minced prawns and served in a thick, yummy gravy)
  • Chitol maacher muitha ( fish balls cooked in a thick gravy)
  • Prawn malai curry (lobsters cooked tender in a coconut milk based gravy)
  • Shorshe Ilish
  • Kosha Mangsho (spicy mutton curry)




  • Payesh, Rosogolla, Shondesh ( selective as there won’t be any room left)


End with mishti paan. After all, I am a man with simple needs! SHUBHO JAMAI SHOSHTHI! BURP!


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  • Jamai Shashthi is a Bangla film directed by Amar Choudhury and produced by Madan theatre Limited in 1931. It is milestone as it was the first Bengali talkie.
  • The son-in-law receives gifts on this day and is expected to reciprocate with return gifts for his in-laws.


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May 22, 2015

                                                                            THE BIG BONG THEORY

                                                                                           PART 1




                                                                              By Swayam Ganguly


We Bongs do it differently! Just like James Bond! But unlike Double O Seven, we like things both shaken and stirred. In the national language, that means both hilake aur milake! The best of both worlds? Oh yesh!

Why should Engreeji or English be treated any differently? Here’s a Bong take on the English alphabets. People, who pride themselves on their impeccable English, kindly adjusht!


DISCLAIMER: Don’t read too much into the title. It is not related to this article in any way. It just sounded cool.


A FOR ADDA (Hangout)

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Even the busiest of Bongs take time out to engage in a dash of adda, ranging from banter over tea at a tea-stall to hanging out with mod (no pun intended) friends drinking something just a little stronger than tea. An Adda session is a chat room in the real sense of the word. Well, not eggjactly! It’s not virtual entertainment!



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This soothing invention from G.D Pharmaceuticals comes in a legendary green pack and is a must in every Bengali’s house and travelling kit. It is supposed to cure burns, bruises, cuts and love bites too! The Bong’s magical cream! If green is the colour of Bengal now, Boroline is definitely the cream of Bengal. Make that khushbudaar antiseptic cream!


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Why do most Bongs suffer from hypermetropia or myopia? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind! But powered glasses or the choshma used to be perched on the nasal apparatus of one in three Bongs before contact lenses announced their arrival. But why most Bongs need a Choshma remains an unsolved mystery. See G for more.



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A Daak Naam or nickname is the source of perpetual embarrassment for every Bong. Imagine being greeted by “Ei Puplu, kamon achish?” in a board meeting and you’ll get the drift. Every Bong has a daak naam they are not exactly proud of like Baban, Papan, Pupun, Gublu, Pompom, Mishti…the list is endless. Every Bong is also in constant denial that he or she has a nickname. Phew, thank God I don’t have a daak naam! 



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Eeesh as an expression was first popularized nationally by legendary actor Utpal Dutta and then by Aishwarya Rai Bacchan in recent times. ‘Eeesh’ can be used to express disgust, dismay, sadness and many other emotions with great effectiveness.



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This will remain the Bangali’s ‘priyo khela’ and although cricket is very big, it can somehow never eclipse Phootball. The game gives every Bong a massive kick and almost everyone is an expert on the game.

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Just as Bongs are divided into Ghoti (Bongs hailing from West Bengal) and Bangaal ( Bongs with Bangladeshi origins), soccer fans can mostly be divided into the Lal Holud colours of East Bengal and the Sobuj Maroon of Mohun Bagan. The hardcore enthusiast follows the EPL, La Liga and Bundesliga as well. 



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The Bong has a love affair with the Goyenda or the detective that refuses to go away. From Feluda to Byomkesh to Kiriti, the addiction has passed on from books to celluloid. The Bangali Goyenda is stereotyped from Sherlock Holmes but has pure Bangaliyaana shtyle and method. He uses his grey cells and powers of detection to nab the criminals before the Poolish does so. 



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We are all extremely proud of the gargantuan Howrah Bridge that is synonymous with Kolkata. Howrah Bridge is Heaby! (Read Heavy) It has inspired films and television shows to be named after it. So what if someone famously said, “I was walking on Howrah breeze and there was a cool bridge blowing!” English is not our mother tongue after all!



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It is strange that the national fish of West Bengal has to be mostly exported from Bangladesh. But this is because the demand clearly exceeds the supply. There’s also a rumor that Bangladeshi Ilish is better quality wise. So, the king of Phish has seen a price surge in recent times. The Bangladeshis are demanding water from us so that they can breed Ilish in our waters and then export it to us. That’s what I call Jal bin Machli.




Jamai Shoshthi is the one meal celebration of the son-in-law in a Bong household. The son-in-law is indulged in a gastronomical orgy till he takes almost a week to recover. The menu on offer would interest even an expert like Anthony Bourdain. It is advisable to carry those small pink pills called Gelusil on this son-in-law day to avoid post meal after effects. The visual, albeit a little over the top, is self explanatory. 


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Kobiguru or Rabindranath is the Numero Uno Bong and possibly the greatest Indian polymath. Poet, lyricist, author, musician, painter, playwright, humanist and many other heavyweights rolled into one, he has set high standards which are impossible to achieve. Yet, we try and fail! 


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Life is incomplete without love! The lack of space in the crowded metropolis forces couples in love to hang out in the strangest of places. Love reigns supreme right from Bangla films to Bong songs. Saraswati Pujo is the official Valentine Day for the young Bangali. Like they say in tennis, Love All!


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The term ‘pescetarian’ was coined to denote people who consume fish. It’s a pity Bongs are not really pescetarian as we love our meat and potatoes too. But fish tops our menu all right! The mind-boggling variety consumed by Bongs is enough to make an outsider gape in disbelief. Phish rocks! Read ‘It smells kind of fishy’ for more!



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We just can’t get over the fact that we have two Nobel Prize winners in Tagore and Amartya Sen. So what if many of us don’t know why Amartya Sen won the Nobel! It’s the thought that counts! In all the euphoria, it has been conveniently forgotten that the Nobel has actually been stolen from Shantiniketan and is yet to be retrieved. So, S(below) is also for Shame!



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Onko or Maths seems to be an obsession for all Bong parents. For me, sadly it was always ‘Onko Baro Kotheen’ (Maths is too difficult)

No matter what a Bong Kid scores in other subjects, it is a matter of national security if he or she fares poorly in Math/Maths. I firmly believe that when things go wrong, you can always count on your fingers!



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This is a dessert a Bong mother specializes in and she in turn learnt the recipe from her own Mom. A must on birthdays, you simply can’t get enough of payesh irrespective if you are a dessert person or a normal person.


Q FOR QUIZ (pronounced QUIJJ)

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Bongs love Quijj and a good quiz show is always a hit on television. Of course, the koschens (read questions) should not be too difficult as the average Bong does not get too much time to read nowadays thanks to the busy world we reside in. That’s such a pity!



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There was a time when the Tabla and the Harmonium used to reside in harmony in every Bong home. The Tabla is a handsome instrument. It is Indian percussion at its very best and your life is incomplete till you have heard its mesmerizing sound.



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There was a time when every mother wished they had a son like Uttam Kumar and all the young women hoped their husbands would resemble Uttam Kumar in some way. His popularity can be gauged by the fact that the West Bengal Government has renamed a metro station after him. The Mahanayak of Bengali cinema has left behind an unparalleled legacy and shoes so big that no actor has been able to fill them yet. Joy Guru! Enjoy Guru!


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Although the Brits have long gone, Vande Mataram still lingers on in the Bong vocab. Used by the opposition party members when they shout slogans against the ruling party and vice versa, Vande Mataram just refuses to fade away. It sounds cool as well just like Jai Hind. Today, greet someone by saying Vande Mataram!



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World Cup or Bishyocup for the Bong refers to both the cricket and football world Cups. But the football World Cup is a bigger event. Once, every five years, Bongs celebrate this event passionately as giant screens are set up and mass screenings are organized in the neighborhoods.

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Brajil and Argenteena are the mass favorites although European teams like Germany, Holland and Spain have a loyal fan following too. But the Brazilian and Argentinean flags decorate the paaras religiously. It’s almost like a South American invasion.


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The Bong celebrates most festivals with great gusto although Durga Puja tops the list. Xmas deserves a mention in this list as Bongs are a shining example of adopting and embracing the secular aspects of Christmas. As the majority of us are non-Christian, this is especially commendable as we light up our city streets, buy and consume cakes, exchange gifts, party and celebrate Xmas with great cheer. So what if we have limited options like Park Street to celebrate?


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I think this term has been coined by a young Bong on a social networking chat platform by combining the American slangs ‘yeah’, ‘yep’ and ‘yup.’ Yap doesn’t sound very cool though and resembles the yelp of a dog rather than an affirmative exclamation. I’d neither use the term nor recommend it personally. Sadly, just like mosquitoes, yap continues to exist. The only reason it’s on this list is that I couldn’t find anything beginning with Y. Please mail me suggestions.



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Ever wondered why most shops are shut in the afternoon in any locality or paara in Kolkata? The reason is that the Bong loves his Bhaat Ghum or compulsive afternoon siesta, after the consumption of massive proportions of fish curry rice or meat and rice, whatever the case may be. Savvy eh?


To be continued…PART 2 will feature A for Abol Tabol, B for Bangla Band, C for Cha Cigarette and so on.

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May 7, 2015



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I love taking a walk whenever opportunity presents itself and soaking in the life of the crowded metropolis called Kolkata. A walk from Rashbehari Avenue to Gol Park is not for the faint hearted but the need to pick up second hand books necessitates this evening walk once in a while. There are plenty of pit stops for the shopaholic or if you want to grab a quick bite or a garom cha. But I discovered a quaint, delightful little takeaway quite by accident on my recent sojourn. I had stopped en route to pick up money from the ATM near Lake Mall when I felt the sudden pangs of hunger brought about by an early lunch. I spied ‘Lebanese Delight’ right next to Carmel School where I was picking up cigarettes and this was the beginning of yet another addiction.

The concept of fast food is not alien to food lovers in Kolkata. However, the fact that fast food can be healthy, fat-free and finger licking good as well is perhaps unknown to many engaging in those gastronomical orgies. The second hand books were conveniently forgotten as I ordered half a serving of grilled chicken which was decently priced at a hundred and fifty bucks.


The Chicken Arabi Biriyani was cheaper but I opted for the grilled chicken. I wonder how the proprietor makes a profit as the food served was sufficient snack-wise for two people. The grilled chicken is rather succulent and is served with pita bread (a distant cousin of the roti) and a special sauce (they wouldn’t give me the recipe but I’m hoping they’ll come around after this write up) But it was so good that I died and went to heaven!

Lebanon is also known as the Lebanese Republic and is located in Western Asia. It is flanked by Syria in the North and Israel in the South. Not heaven geographically I suppose but hey, at least the food is good.


Lebanese Delight is also known as Lebanese Delight and is located on Deshopriyo Park Road in Southern Kolkata. It is flanked by Lake Mall and Carmel School.

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On my next visit, I devoured a Shawarma Roll as a Bong must roll just as he must rock. The stuff that goes into this roll is divine; seasoned chicken breast that is marinated and cooked slowly in a vertical rotisserie (they let you watch this as well)

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Then the meat is thinly sliced and wrapped in fresh pita bread with chopped tomatoes, onions, capsicum and that heavenly special sauce. I’m gonna get that recipe or die trying. Somehow, hundred bucks were never spent better.

The kebabs and the salads they serve here deserve a special mention and there’s a lovely Chelo Kebab as well.

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For the ‘maach khabo’ types they have a nice Iranian Fish Tikka and Iranian Fish Sish Kebab. For the vegetarians (it’s somehow a four letter word for a meat and potatoes guy like me) the paneer shawarma roll, sandwich and the Falafel Roll is reason enough to make a trip. There are mushroom rolls and salads too!

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Lebanon is populated largely by people of Arab descent. Muslim Palestinian refugees and Christians are also found in large numbers. Many minority groups from Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia contribute to the expatriate population. The fusion of people in Lebanon has seen a fusion of cuisine as well. The Chicken Arbi Biryani and the Chelo Kebab Platter served here are classic examples of Lebanese fusion food.

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Lebanese cuisine consists of starches, whole grain, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood. However, poultry is consumed more than red meat. So don’t make the faux pas of saying ‘Mutton neyi?’ when you visit.

Garlic and olive oil are key ingredients and seasoning is usually done by lemon juice. The typical flavors in the Lebanese diet include herbs, olive oil, garlic and lemon. The food is mostly baked, grilled or sautéed in olive oil. Butter or cream is used only in a few desserts.

Lebanese food is a great example of variety combined with fresh, healthy and delicious food. The variety on offer in Lebanese Delight makes it a perfect place to order from for house parties and private events.

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You can call the proprietor Dave (or is it Dev?) on 9339782258/9830771575 to place your orders. If you do so, ask for the free home delivery number as I seem to have misplaced it. Please tell him you read this as he’s promised me Iranian Chicken Seekh Kabab on the house if you call after reading this! But I’d suggest a trip to Lebanese Delight before you actually order. A walk might actually boost that appetite!

My friend Dasgupta is a compulsive international traveler (he’s a bachelor you see)

He asked me yesterday if I’ve ever been to Lebanon. No, I replied. But I’ve been to Lebanese Delight. Have you?

Bon appétit!

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The author, Swayam Ganguly’s debut novel is called “Love Films and Rock n Roll” and his second novel, “Good Bad and Ugly” is scheduled for release soon. You can mail him at swayamg@gmail.com.