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.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

A special shade of blue inspired these musicians to create a musical piece

Thanks to an interesting neurological condition called synesthesia.

On certain forums on the Internet, heated discussions revolve around the colour of number 9 or the sound of strawberry cupcake. And most forum members mount a passionate defence of their points of view on these topics. These posts provide insight into a lesser known, but well-documented, sensory condition called synesthesia - simply described as the cross wiring of the senses.

Synesthetes can ‘see’ music, ‘taste’ paintings, ‘hear’ emotions...and experience other sensory combinations based on their type. If this seems confusing, just pay some attention to our everyday language. It’s riddled with synesthesia-like metaphors - ‘to go green with envy’, ‘to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth’, ‘loud colours’, ‘sweet smells’ and so on.

Synesthesia is a deeply individual experience for those who have it and differs from person to person. About 80 different types of synesthesia have been discovered so far. Some synesthetes even have multiple types, making their inner experience far richer than most can imagine.

Most synesthetes vehemently maintain that they don’t consider their synesthesia to be problem that needs to be fixed. Indeed, synesthesia isn’t classified as a disorder, but only a neurological condition - one that scientists say may even confer cognitive benefits, chief among them being a heightened sense of creativity.

Pop culture has celebrated synesthetic minds for centuries. Synesthetic musicians, writers, artists and even scientists have produced a body of work that still inspires. Indeed, synesthetes often gravitate towards the arts. Eduardo is a Canadian violinist who has synesthesia. He’s, in fact, so obsessed with it that he even went on to do a doctoral thesis on the subject. Eduardo has also authored a children’s book meant to encourage latent creativity, and synesthesia, in children.

Litsa, a British violinist, sees splashes of paint when she hears music. For her, the note G is green; she can’t separate the two. She considers synesthesia to be a fundamental part of her vocation. Samara echoes the sentiment. A talented cellist from London, Samara can’t quite quantify the effect of synesthesia on her music, for she has never known a life without it. Like most synesthetes, the discovery of synesthesia for Samara was really the realisation that other people didn’t experience the world the way she did.

Eduardo, Litsa and Samara got together to make music guided by their synesthesia. They were invited by Maruti NEXA to interpret their new automotive colour - NEXA Blue. The signature shade represents the brand’s spirit of innovation and draws on the legacy of blue as the colour that has inspired innovation and creativity in art, science and culture for centuries.

Each musician, like a true synesthete, came up with a different note to represent the colour. NEXA roped in Indraneel, a composer, to tie these notes together into a harmonious composition. The video below shows how Sound of NEXA Blue was conceived.


You can watch Eduardo, Litsa and Samara play the entire Sound of NEXA Blue composition in the video below.


To know more about NEXA Blue and how the brand constantly strives to bring something exclusive and innovative to its customers, click here.

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