Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When In Bengal, Speak Bengali With Me Plsssss

Okay, let me clarify at the beginning that this is not something I am talking about people who do not speak the language, or even if they do, don't want to. I am talking about my own experience in Kolkata each time I've been visiting. And honestly, I do give myself a little more credit on being a Bangali than the Kolkata Bengalis do.....

 (* found the above sign quite cute, so had to click and share) :-)

Even though I've been born and brought up way away from Bengal all my life and continue to live outside, my parents always spoke to me in our native tongue. Which is why I do know the language (can speak, write and read Bangla, though I must admit it takes me agesssss to read a single page in a bangla book!) Okay, there may be a slight accent to the way I speak Bangla, but that doesn't affect me from trying and speaking it as well as I can.

And I like to flaunt my skills especially when Im in Kolkata. Which is where the locals do the exact opposite the moment I come in contact with them.

Each time I visit a store and try to talk to the people in Bengali, suddenly everyone begins speaking hindi with me! Initially, I thought they were probably mistaken that I couldn't speak the language, and would try and speak in Bangla again...but no...that didn't help much, did it? On and on the cute hindi would go, and I would smile and try and keep up my side of the Bengali chatter.

So there was this store I went to at South City Mall this time I was in Kolkata and this guy just didn't know hindi, but still, that did not deter his enthusiasm in talking to me in Hindi....(am not making fun here, just trying to express the fact that I CAN speak in bangla and will keep trying ;-) )
madam...shundor kaapdaa sale, you want madam?
sale madam.....all product sale madam...achchhaa shundor maal hai madam.
Hmm...aami jaani. Thank you.
madam, membership card madam? take madam..bhaalo aachhey madam
Thank you bhaiya, aami bangla jaani. to tumi please bangla te bolte paaro.
okay madam
madam, aapka baangla achhchha madam
At this stage I just ended up smiling and laughing!
bangla achhchha to bangla te bolo na...
hehe madam....okay madam...

I made the purchase and as I was heading out, the guy waved out to me:
phir aashben madam....
sure....phir aashbo :-)

- Debolina Raja Gupta


  1. Is the subject connected with your professional field or maybe is it mostly about your leisure and kinds of spending your free time?

    1. What do you mean by 'subject'?? I don't live in Calcutta, but everytime I visit, I fall in love with the city in a new way...Just sharing my experiences and thoughts here thats all

  2. Haha..I can understand your frustration, but I must say I quite commend a Calcuttan's readiness to start conversing in their Hindi (however broken) with a person they perceive as non-native speaker. The same is not true for quite a few other places in India. On the other hand I know numerous people (even friends) with a different mother-tongue than Bengali, who have lived in the city for years together and yet never bothered to pick up the language. I find that kind of behavior quite rude.

  3. Avs: Lol...won't call it frustration, but the irony is that living away it's kind of a novelty to speak my own mother tongue, and when I'm in Cal, I think everyone would do that. And the exact opposite happens! Blame it on my north-Indian accent, my non-Bong looks or whatever, but the moment I speak Bangla in Cal, I inevitable get replied to in Hindi! Yes, it's commendable that even though their Hindi may be broken, they try and speak it confidently :-)
    As for not picking up the local language, I'm not sure whether it's rude. I've been living in Mumbai for almost 7 years now, and I can barely speak a few sentences! Though I love languages, I've yet to learn this one....

  4. I just found your channel today, I want to start learning complete bengali so I can bridge the gap betwen myself and my developer in india :) thanks very much this is definitely helping!

    1. Thanks Anne..I'm glad if you found this blog useful in any way. I don't live in Calcutta (Bengal), as you may have guessed, but I do visit sometimes and share my experiences here. In case you have any questions or would like to get in touch, do feel free to reach me at deborummy@gmail.com..All the best! :-)


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