somewhat conversational in my mother tongue, Punjabi, but Bangla is the
language that transports me back to my childhood. I grew up in Kolkata, in a
neighbourhood that was quite multi cultural, but a smattering of Bangla was
always at play. We spoke a strange kind of ‘Banglish’, which was mostly English
interspersed curiously with some Bangla words.
meant my long plait but when my friend couldn’t find his ‘choti’ in the
playground, it meant he couldn’t find his blue and white Bata rubber chappals.
Samosas were called ‘shinghara’. Any male who looked like a quasi adult was
called ‘Dada’. But at home, Dadaji was my grandfather. ‘Chops’ was a big
favourite among us kids. No, there was no violence involved here. Chops were
small minced cutlets made with a range of things ranging from beetroot to potato
or fish and chicken.
vendors from Bihar who sell jhaal muri at the street corner speak it; the Marwari
shopkeepers speak it, as do other North Indians. My father, a turban wearing
Sikh, conducted a lot of conversations at his workplace in Bangla.
sure I have a logical answer. Is it its inherent sweetness? Is it its gentle cadence?
To me, Bangla feels like home. Even today when I visit Kolkata, I love to immerse
myself in the language and the culture. I try and read the signs on the road. I find
the script of the language artistic. It’s a language that takes me back to a warm
fuzzy place in my childhood.