Maybe it is fashionable to introduce me to things that are essentially Bengali. Maybe because I was born in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) and was brought up in New Delhi. That made me a Bengali with a difference. I thought my Bengali education would be all that my parents gave me and what I would pick up from my holidays in Kolkata or the trips to Chittaranjan Park during Durga Pujas. But the Bengali Gods had a different syllabus for me. They sent me a Bengali girlfriend who became my wife and who got me a handful of fantastic, honestly fabulous friends, albeit Bengali. So the educational journey has been on-going.
But this was too much for me. I was dragged to a ‘Bhoomi‘ (a Bengali band based in Kolkata) concert in Abu Dhabi recently and that shook my new foundations in ‘being Bengali’.
It started with one of the organisers admonishing all of us as we lined up backstage to meet one of the band members who my friends and wife knew.. and he behaved as if electric wires were like water hose pipes. You stand on them and the electricity connection gets cut off. I might add that the organiser was a chaste Bengali dressed in ‘kurta‘ and a traditional ‘dhooti‘, yet he repremanded us all in some ‘bhery‘ eclectic ‘Eenglis‘ – please do not stand on the wires. We have SPENDED three hours settingit up and any ‘poblem’ will put us all in ‘deep seet’!!!
Speechless, we went back to our seets.. sorry… seats, stifling our giggles; but what followed, silenced me for at least an hour and a half. Here’s the run down of the status updates I posted while Bhoomi was doing their thing.
Concert update 1: introductory mujeek as members took the stage: Phinal Countdown.
Concert Update 2: every Bengali pronounces ‘guitar’ as ‘gitter’ so please don’t blame Bappi Lahiri for it.
Concert Update 3: Lady announcing the band members and the instruments they play: ‘baas gitter‘ – hands down winner!
Concert Update 4: There are two guys doing backing vocals.. Problem is they look as if they are lip-syncing!
Concert Update 5: It’s amazing to see how far the Bengali faith can extend to – All Bongs present in the concert are rocking their bodies and nodding heads to the music. Maybe they are supplying the lyrics themselves, coz I can’t understand a word of what Bhoomi is singing – the acoustics are so bad!
Concert Update 6: Things to do during this concert: 1 Facebook 2 Text an unimportant friend 3 Play with somebody else’s kid 4 Remember to pay your electricity bill 5 Promise yourself to never turn up for one of these…
Concert Update 7: OK this is it – the quintessential ‘Dada’ and ‘Boudi‘ have taken to the dance floor! God save the planet!
Concert Update 8: Eight songs into the concert,the band is going ‘Hello.. Check Check.. 1.. 2.. 6…’
Concert Update 9: One hour into the concert and the band hasn’t done a single original composition – they really must be popular in Kolkata!
Concert Update 10: The band calls upon a ‘Boudi‘ from the audience to dance on stage.. And the lady sure is operating on helium!
Concert Update 11: Never present food to a Bengali in the middle of anything. Half the Bongs at the concert are vocally synchronising over ‘saamosaa‘ ‘chop’ and ‘aloo bhaajaa’ the other half are busy chatting and socialising, a handful dancing and me stuck in the middle of all this.
Concert Update 12: Band tells the crowd to eat ‘phood‘ outside while they will give autographs. Assumption is the mother of all ‘phaa**k-ups’!
Concert Update 13: this is the ‘Phinaal‘ one. My wife took pity on her husband, who incidentally was the only man in the hall peering into his mobile screen, and offered to walk out of the concert. Bless her! I love the nippy air outside and the irregular whooshes of rushing cars.. Right now all this sounds better ‘muj…eek’ to my ears. Bye bye Bengal. I will continue to ‘laabh‘ you but from far!