A taste of Bengal

Why you should avoid Delhi's Chittaranjan Park during Pujo

The residents of Delhi's biggest Bengali locality might think they're doing things the Calcutta way. But everything from the pandals to the objects of lust is different.

Chittaranjan Park is the tandoori version of Calcutta. The bird looks similar, but the flavour is different. The people are all wrong. They dress much better. Many own cars. They do not share the near total contempt for making money that so distinguishes Calcutta. In fact, most of them love money in a deep and personal way. Calcutta Bengalis are totally different. It's not that they’re against money. Your Bengali gentleman of repute doesn’t mind spending money. It’s earning it that he objects to. But he does have kalchar. Many Calcutta people are genuinely kalchared, whereas CR Park people spend a lot of time looking like they might be. As a result, many of them get jobs in media and advertising. By the time their employers find out the truth, it's usually too late.

There was a time when being born Bengali was a victory in the lottery of life. It put you in pole position with the British, who had all the money. Not to mention Rabindranath. Today, the situation has deteriorated. Saurav is no longer captain of India. Netaji is yet to return. Other communities have not accepted Robindro Shongeet to the extent that they should have. There was a brief moment of joy when Vidya Balan played a Bengali woman in Kahaani, but this did not last. Moon Moon Sen is doing her best, but once your leading sex symbol is in her sixties, it's time to worry. Not that Bengalis have much sex. Cooking and eating take too much time. The only reason we’re still reproducing is because sometimes the gas runs out towards the end of the month. Over in Bangladesh, things are even worse. Heroines are doing item numbers dressed up as Superman. The Jaamat is up in arms, and who can blame them?

What are the signs that CR Park is an ersatz, counterfeit or duplicate version of Calcutta? Initial impressions can be misleading. Much Bengali is spoken, and devilled eggs are in plentiful supply. The samosas are bland, the rolls are greasy, and hygiene standards in the fish market are reassuringly dreadful. But an expert eye can spot the discrepancies. For one thing, they don’t have enough pharmacies. The proper Bengali gentleman will have one shingara, two kochuri, a ledigeni, some mishti doi, and if he is feeling adventurous, the disco sandesh, after which he pops into the chemists next door and buys some Gelusil. In CR Park, this is not the case. Chemists are few and far between. Clearly, they have lost touch with their roots.

Pujo is the time when this fakery reaches its height. Pujo is very important for Bengalis. When three Bengalis get together, they form a pujo committee. When four get together, they form two pujo committees. The main purpose of these committees is to feed people. The public spends hours standing in line sampling bhog across pandals. The rest of the day is spent comparing these bhogs in detail. In the evening, they support talent. Committees who can afford him get Kumar Shanu. The others get Bappa from Pocket 40. Sometimes Rinku’s cousin performs dance drama, accompanied by Potla. They also have competitions. A popular favourite is “Who Is The Best Jamai?”, which is like Kaun Banega Crorepati without the money. The judges are all local mothers-in-law. Local jamais get on stage and try to convince them that they are worthy.

Boudi motion

Which brings us to Boudis. In Bengal, we don't have MILFS, we have BILFs. Mothers are sacred, except during football matches. The forbidden fruit is Boudi. A luscious Boudi is a fantasy figure. Often she is neglected by Dada. She features prominently in Wild Stone deodorant commercials, which is why Wild Stone is the best selling deo in Calcutta. But she remains demure. CR Park Boudis are very different. Instead of receding necklines, which are a sign of looj character, they have receding back lines. Every year, they recede a little bit more. This is why so many men spend so much time in lines behind them.

Meanwhile, the men in CR Park are doing it with kurtas. Even though our Prime Minister is trying to set the tone, kurta-wise, making bold choices like fuchsia and periwinkle, a visit to CR Park will blow his mind. During pujo, all kurta-related restraint is thrown to the winds. The pandals are full of men in French-cut beards, wearing psychedelic kurtas. Some of them have lines of Bengali poetry on them. Bonolota Sen is a particular favourite.

It’s not all bad. The mood is cheerful, and the cooking never stops. But if you seek a genuine cultural experience, avoid CR Park at all costs. And remember, Gelusil is equally effective on all communities.

Shovon Chowdhury is the author of The Competent Authority.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Bringing your parents into the digital fold can be a rewarding experience

Contrary to popular sentiment, being the tech support for your parents might be a great use of your time and theirs.

If you look up ‘Parents vs technology’, you’ll be showered with a barrage of hilariously adorable and relatable memes. Half the hilarity of these memes sprouts from their familiarity as most of us have found ourselves in similar troubleshooting situations. Helping a parent understand and operate technology can be trying. However, as you sit, exasperated, deleting the gazillion empty folders that your mum has accidentally made, you might be losing out on an opportunity to enrich her life.

After the advent of technology in our everyday personal and work lives, parents have tried to embrace the brand-new ways to work and communicate with a bit of help from us, the digital natives. And while they successfully send Whatsapp messages and make video calls, a tremendous amount of unfulfilled potential has fallen through the presumptuous gap that lies between their ambition and our understanding of their technological needs.

When Priyanka Gothi’s mother retired after 35 years of being a teacher, Priyanka decided to create a first of its kind marketplace that would leverage the experience and potential of retirees by providing them with flexible job opportunities. Her Hong Kong based novel venture, Retired, Not Out is reimagining retirement by creating a channel through which the senior generation can continue to contribute to the society.

Our belief is that tech is highly learnable. And learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from school. That is why we have designed specific programmes for seniors to embrace technology to aid their personal and professional goals.

— Priyanka Gothi, Founder & CEO, Retired Not Out

Ideas like Retired Not Out promote inclusiveness and help instil confidence in a generation that has not grown up with technology. A positive change in our parent’s lives can be created if we flip the perspective on the time spent helping them operate a laptop and view it as an exercise in empowerment. For instance, by becoming proficient in Microsoft Excel, a senior with 25 years of experience in finance, could continue to work part time as a Finance Manager. Similarly, parents can run consultation blogs or augment their hobbies and continue to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Advocating the same message, Lenovo’s new web-film captures the void that retirement creates in a person’s life, one that can be filled by, as Lenovo puts it, gifting them a future.


Depending on the role technology plays, it can either leave the senior generation behind or it can enable them to lead an ambitious and productive life. This festive season, give this a thought as you spend time with family.

To make one of Lenovo’s laptops a part of the family, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Lenovo by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.