One of the greatest advantages of living far away from home sweet home is the enhanced ability to appreciate and yet have a laugh at our own culture. The Kolkata culture thats ingrained among us from birth manifests itself in all aspects of our life, whether we live in the cosmos of Bangalore/Gurgaon/Noida or in the far far away ("shaat shomudro paare") USA or more recently in UK or Germany!! Laugh as much as we may, this is far from being a source of ambarrasment, we actually pride ourselves on it!!
A recent effort led to the compilation of this dictionary about the ABC of Bengalis -
A: Aapish (more commonly called office). This is where the average Kolkattan spends a day hard(ly) at work. Of course, a Government "aapish" is more work given that everything goes by the clock, e.g. report in at 10, chill out till 11, tea break at 12, sign some files at 12:30, lunch break at 1 followed by a couple of "bidis" at 2, tea break at 3, snooze time at 4 and finally go home at 5!!
B: Bhision (more commonly called vision). For some reason the average Bong has very poor bhision. Proof ... the abundance of spectacle shops and their fat owners!!
C: Chappel. For Kolkatans, synonym for the devil, one might say the worst form of evil!!
D: Debashish. Whoever laid the rule that every fourth bengali child should be named so, kind of underestimated the Bong's reproductive abilities!! But trust us to be creative enough ... you have Deb, Debu, Deba with the odd Debjeet, Deboprotim and Debnath thrown in as well!!
E: Eeeessshhhh. The age old Bengali exclamation (other varieties are iiiissshhh) made more glamorous by Aishwarya Rai in Devdas. A survey showed the average Kolkatan uses this expression 10089 times a year!!
F: Feeshh (what else!!) Take a Bong to a fish market; with the abundance of stink around him, he will still be able to identify the good from the bad with just a whiff!! Of course the poor vendor may sometime have to bear the brunt of "Eeeesshh, what feeshh is theeshh!!"
G: Good name (the bong version is "bhalo naam"). Much has been documented about the poor Kolkata kid whose perfectly nice "good name" is marred by the nick of Chontu, Shona, Mona, Tuki, Dinku, Babai. Suffice to say, its unthinkable for a Kolkata household not to have 2 sets of names for their kids!!
H: Harmonium. The Kolkata equivalent of the lead guitar. Gather 4 Bongs and give them a couple of Harmoniums, presto, you have the Beatles!!
I: Again what else but "Ileeeshh". A fish with 1000 bones capable of killing any mortal trying to eat it but that, for a Bong is child's play!!
J: Jhola. A shapeless cloth bag which can accommodate an amazing no. of articles in it. Though becoming more synonymous of "aantelpona" (intellectualism), this still remains a dear possession of any middle aged self respecting Kolkatan.
K: Kee Kaando. Another of the Bong's famous exclamations. It used to run neck to neck with Eeesshh but the glamour factor of Ash seems to have stopped the K factor short in its track
L: Lungi. How Kolkatans manage to play cricket, football or any form of game with this is beyond comprehension. But we're still waiting for the day when a group of Kolkatans climb Mt. Everest in the same.
M: Minibus. As the name suggests a halph-bus. But again as always appearances can be deceptive. So what we dont have a F1 track, Kolkata roads are good enough for them to show their skills for the same.
N: Nangto. Nothing much can be written about it coz of censorship issues but it definitely qualifies as the most interesting word in the world meaning naked!!
O: Oil. Come winter and all rooftops in Kolkata will witness the whole family enjoying a nice self massage of "shorsher tel". In general though, oil can even cure common cold (oil in the nose), ear-aches (oil in the ear) and even piles (oil you know where!!).
P: Phootball. Needless to explain more about the phabourite passion of the Kolkatan. Its interesting to note every Bengali worth his salt is an expert at the game.
Q: Queen Bhictoria. The pride of Victoria Memorial among the city inhabitants seems to grow with every passing day. Who cares if some young couples scandalize this monument with their hormonal calls!!
R: Rabindranath Tagore. The guy won the Nobel Prize in 1913. Of course you can now understand why we look down upon the "uncultured" Mumbai-ites & Delhi-ites!!
S: Sardarjee. The best taxi drivers in the city, as goes the belief!! But one does get the feeling, the Kolkatan envies the Sardarjee ... why did he have the privilige to wear a half monkey cap all his life??
T: Tram. The inheritance from the British. Of course, in most cases its faster to walk to your destination than take a tram.
U: Ullu. Most people might not have heard of this term but its unthinkable to have a marriage ceremony in Bong-land without someone among the fairer sex, waggling her toungue and making this weird noise.
V: Violence (rather non-violence). A crime/accident scene is always swarming with people. They will abuse, scream and curse their hearts out but never will they indulge in violence. Police records state the last violent act was in 1979.
W: Water. The city remains under water for 3 months out of 12. It has been so for the last 200 years and yet the authorities seem to be caught by surprise every year!!
X: X-mas. One of Kolkata's biggest celebrations right after Durga pujo. If a Kolkatan were to visit Europe on Christmas, they would probably suffer a stroke comparing the lit up Park Street to the deserted European streets!!
Y: Yellow. No Bong dish is complete without a dash of turmeric (which imparts the yellow coloration to food). As if that wasn't proof enough, house walls should be painted yellow as well!!
Z: Couldn't find something quite to the heart but guess the Alipore Zoo should come close!!
Disclaimer - There were a number of close ones such as Durga Pujo with Debashish, Maddox with Minibus, but guess the author's discretion takes priority here!! :)
Cheers Kolkata ... indeed the City of Joy!!