New Delhi: I spent the greater part of my life in Delhi, making Punjabi friends, eating thick butter chicken gravy and adjusting to foul-mouthed but good-natured ribbing that is the way of life in this city. So I was highly amused when I saw 'Vicky Donor' Ayushmann Khurana make sense of Yami Gautam's Bengali idiosyncrasies in the film.
Here's my take on the whole Bengali-Punjabi culture clash.
"Ghosh? Accha, Bengali?"
"Rasgulla aur macchi khabe?"
This is generally how I am greeted by friends and acquaintances when they come to know I am Bengali. A friend of mine started calling me 'Rosho' and the name just stuck. Soon half the people in my class started calling me that.
Stereotypes exist however much we emphasize our liberal attitudes. They are usually passed down from generation to generation. Take for example how Bengalis view Punjabis and vice versa. For Bengalis, the Punjabi way of life is drinking, aggression and enough butter in their food to kill a horse. For Punjabis, Bengalis are soft spoken, fish-eating people partial to the delectable rosogolla.
While these conventions tend to cloud our judgement every once in a while, it doesn't stop us from having great relationships with each other or even sharing customs. One of my best friends is Punjabi and she loves to celebrate Durga Puja (although her idea of celebration was wolfing down all types of Bengali food from the stalls set up) and I’ve been celebrating Lohri since I was a kid.
We do take refuge in clichés when we meet strangers, but once we get to know them, they don't matter.
I remember being absolutely scandalised by the free flowing use of abuses mouthed by my Punjabi friends. Then I realised it was their way of showing affection. From the other side, I’m pretty sure they’ve realised by now that Bengalis aren’t that gentle and complacent as they are made out to be.
And other than that, Gen Y is smart enough to know better than to parrot their parents' sayings. I know several people who can attest to that.
My mom has a tendency to berate Punjabi songs and rant about how my song preference is laughable since I’d rather listen to Punjabi songs than Bangla Rabindrasangeet. But then when I make her sit down and really listen to the songs, she concedes that they are pretty good. Sometimes. I can't imagine someone opposing their parent’s view in such a way a few decades ago.
So yeah, the Bong-Punjabi divide does exist but it isn’t overwhelming enough to lead to the formation of separate camps or even dictate our behaviour. So in the competition between fish and butter chicken, I’d say both dishes taste great, all you have to do is ensure they co-exist.
(Tanya Ghosh has recently completed her 12th standard board exams)