Sunday, February 04, 2007

Exeunt, Bengali

I awoke to find a note slipped under my door. My Bengali neighbour is gone, having departed for fishier and more richly fruited climes. One day he was there, freeloading off my wi-fi connection, and then the next day, like the muslim-majority areas of Desh at partition, he was gone. He was, I think, a gentleman, though years of living in Delhi had slighty corrupted his bhadralok ways.

He never recited any Rabindra-sangeet, instead he copied my collection of Ghalib's ghazals. We never discussed politics, or poetry, or french arthouse cinema. Instead he taught me colourful punjabi swear-words, and warned me about the dangerous ways of Delhi women (they have a tendency of slapping men!)! Sometimes the Kolkatta boy would come out, and there would be a theatrical exposition of the verbal battles seen daily between angry Kolkattans on the metro, each threatening to destroy the other in the most physical language, but without ever actually raising a hand.

He did have some Bengali ways though. He delighted in making fish curry whose pungent aroma filled up the entire apartment building. Once, he invited me to lunch, and I was given a hazardous and boney initiation to the Koi fish at his place. No doubt if our friendship had developed, he would have had another attempt to choke me, this time with the brahma-astra of the Bengali fish lover, the Hilsa.

February seems the traditional month of departure for Bengali fish lovers (opsophagos, even). I am glad to report our Bengali brother Anthony detests fish, so he should not be departing anytime soon. Indeed, I am hoping he will in the near future move to England, and open a Tandoori Balti Curry Indian Pakistani Bangladesh Restaurant CurryHouse near my home. I imagine fish will not be on the menu.