Born and brought up in a small town in West Bengal, I have been living the big city dreams for the last seven years. I have moved places four times, but no matter where I go, the stereotypes about my Bengali roots never leave my side.
So here’s the thing. More often than not, Bengalis are sweet, sensitive (yes, self praise is important!), we are a community with a profound love for food, travel, and literature. Even if many of us are not very religious, Durga Pujo is likely to be our favourite time of the year. So, we get it that we are stereotyped to an extent because we ‘eat’ (aka jol khaabo) everything and add mustard oil to everything we cook, but we are definitely not one and the same. Here are 7 myths about Bengalis that are just not true!
1. We ALL love fish!
Take it from someone who abhors fish, not all Bengalis swear by maccher jhol. And yes, I do scowl from time to time at people (non Bengalis - yes that’s a word) who think I am an insult to my community because I can’t make my way through a piece of hilsa with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker.
2. We pronounce everything with an ‘O’
Yes, in Bengali, my name becomes ‘Omrita’ but there are a lot of other words or names which are pronounced the same way as they are in Hindi. So, ask us the next time before you you sound like Jackie Shroff in Devdas!
3. The Bong Bombshell
Apparently, we all must have big eyes, and big boobs. Really! This one is right up there with “All Southern women are dark.” Did you see Jayalalitha? Or Jaya Prada? Or Hema Malini?
4. All Bengalis are ‘artistic’
No. Not all of us can hold a tune or dance like a dream or recite Tagore’s poetry at every social gathering. Not every Bengali is an aspiring writer or filmmaker and actor. And there ain’t anything wrong with that!
But if you do want to read some great Bengali short stories, here’s a book (Rs 499) you should definitely pick up.
5. Rice is the only constant in our diet
Bengalis swear by their mangsho-bhaat but contrary to popular perception, we don’t have rice three times a day!
6. And so are them mishtis
I know, you are probably wondering why half the points are about food - that’s because we take great pride in our cuisine. But we definitely don’t keep binging on sweets all the damn time! Even though, I admit it, they are probably the best thing in the world!
7. When we meet another Bengali, we only talk in our mother tongue
Again, not true. Especially in a professional setup, where others may not understand us, we won’t suddenly break into Bengali just because we were introduced to someone who also hails from the same state as us.
And what about gifting this funny Bengali shirt (Rs 399) to your best Bong bud. Trust us they’ll love it!
So in conclusion, all Bengalis are not the same, much like all humans!