Monday, December 31, 2007

Ten Years I am Living Next Door - Part 4


In Bengali, all 'F' words that matter start with 'B'.

The transitive factor between comedy and tragedy, when one could masturbate and yet below 21, is solely the awareness of whether he is talking to a friend of same sex or someone he is trying to chase. Most Engineering male students have an indescribable urge to prove themselves cool perverts who could drink to the end of the world. I have been in hostel and the bit about guys always compare their you-know-what's size with roommates and in shower room is the biggest urban legend! Only two things could earn your real admiration for another fellow dude -
  • more foulmouth than the thinnest guy in the classroom. Somehow thin people, at least the ones I met in my life, are amazingly resourceful with cuss words. Hell, thin people can do cross words of cuss words at New York Times for 10 years without repeating themselves!

  • the amount of shit crazy stuff one did after drinking without throwing up. Not making this up - I've seen a guy taking out a nip of Rum somewhere from his jeans and gulping a sizable volume. If you need a cue, he was playing carom inside the Union room and was hitting for a red.

Bengali equivalent of 'f#$k' is a certain 5 lettered word that starts with B. Most of us used it in all sentences - sometimes both to start and end it. There were folks whose whole range of expression -- from extreme shock to exhilarating joy (usually at exam getting postponed) -- would be just a single, distinct utterance of the word with - may be - some facial muscle movement.

"B&*^a, birthday naki" (with a thud in the back. In case you were wearing a shirt that you had not worn the day before.)

It was used to convey best wishes.


It was used to appreciate at a good banter. Or a good shot at Cricket. Or to a friend who suddenly offered to pay for the 'Pepsi'.

"B&^%a, na korlei hoto"

It was also used to express fear and very distant, almost unbelievable remorse, after the exam hall invigilator caught the carefully prepared 'Harmonium' - a thin paper with useful things written the night before exam and having more than 18 folds that resembles a part of the isotopic musical instrument. Harmonium was JU's (one) inconvenient truth. With less papers used, it surely played a big part to reduce global warming.

Our classmate Venkatraman apparently had to prove his Bengali skills. Dipta, his neighbor, vows to have seen him mugging "Learn Tamil in 21 days" more than once. Aside, his adjectives seemed to have been inherited directly from Bankimchandra, but other parts of speech from Gariahat. Thus after getting a rare 39 out of 45, in mid 90s, he would say to me -

"Ki protaap er sathe pass korli re".

In another occassion, when Venkat's mother was saying something to him in Tamil, our friend Dipta was looking at Venkat's mom's feet. Hoping there would be a sub-title flowing. But after "Roja" and more P.K.Mishra 'translated' Hindi lyrics from Tamil, I knew it too well to replace any unintelligible Dravidian word with gems like "chinimini", "machindar" etc.

Every college has its brand words. B.E. College had a couple. "Cas" (for casual) and "daabi". So when I met them, usually to devour the cheapest beef on the other side of Hoogly river, I would liberally intersperse the conversation with those two words. Misguided that those two words have seeped into the JU territory they would even pay for my beef, special smoke and McDowells. "Daabi" has very interesting usage. If someone's girlfriend wants more time - it is - of course - onek daabi ache; sudden load shedding - 'daabi ta ki?' etc etc. Cas is pretty much same as cool, only tilting to the other side of legality. Like "Metro te ticket na kete cas dhuke porlam".

"Byatha" was another word that transcended the college boundaries. You might have been in Presi(dency), JU or R Ahmed Dental college -- but "byatha" (pain) meant a (often serious) crush, that perhaps was tangentially broached upon but met with a super-negative reaction from the girl. While watching Satya, I chanced upon a similar word - equally powerful in Marathi -- "Chaavi".

Once this habit of trying to adapt the latest college lingo almost put me into serious trouble. Dipta and I were coming down from the Nandan - upper level after watching Buddhadeb Dasgupta's "Uttara". Honestly, I found the imagery of a very Bengali-urbane-plump Tapas Pal playing a hindustani wrestler extremely funny. Still, I referred to the film as "biBhotsho" while talking to Dipta. Literally meaning more negative, the word could be colloquially used in both extreme senses - good or bad. At least so I thought. A very serious looking, spectacled, bearded, punjabi wearing folk -- who never ever farted outside Nandan-Academy quad -- charged at me. How dare I brand something from Dasgupta as "bibhotsHo". The irony is, I too was not sure whether he liked the movie or not! So I vaguely tried to defend myself. In front of scores of people about to line up at the Sulabh urinals, he lambasted me for wearing "jeans and sneakers" and yet try to fathom the depths of the mind of a bi-sexual, middle-aged railway signalman who perhaps wanted a threesome with his wife and his wrestling buddy.

I wanted to scream I too was a founder member of a "Film Club" and before some member impulsively rented "Nude Mujras in London" (a whole other story) for one screening we had been religiously watching flicks like "Citizen Kane", "King and I" (Yul Bryner) and likes of it.

Next - Vices

Monday, December 24, 2007

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Best wishes for the New Year.