Friday, October 17, 2008

A-A on Italy's Deshis


I think I have been witnessing, in little visual sightings over 4 years, the rise of the Bangladeshi community in italy. In the early years, they were selling umbrellas and knick knacks on street corners, carrying everything they sold. Then I started seeing them behind the counter in semi-permanent and corner shops, and in restaurants, as waiters and chefs.

Then I saw that some of them had their own small shops, and I even found a place with Bangladeshi candidates for rival parties competing in local elections.

This year, for the first time, I saw that women had followed the men, and I saw families together - man, woman, and little children. These families were not sellling products, they were checking out things like normal family on weekend, and then to cap it all, I even saw overly ghettoised Bangladeshi teens, in expensive sneakers wandering on their own.

I feel like I have seen community evolution in high speed.


My father just picked on any Bengali vendor whenever i was busy looking for a street on the map - one of his ways to keep himself entertained.

He would start off with - Bandhu! kaimun acchen? After the usual Bhalo and Ami-o Bhalo, there would be the usual bari kothaye and questions about Italy and waghiara waghaira, and directions - which bus to take etc.

Some would be arrogant and say their bari is Rome and dont know any other bari (bari = home), and dad would nod his head disappointingly and mutter - arrogant bastard, forgetting his roots.

Near the colloseum, dad combined an old Pakistani film dialogue into his own - Yeh woh jaga hai jahan Rome kay zaleel kuttay kharey hokar tamasha dekhtay tey. I responded - Ab Bengali kharey hotay hain!!

We bought coconut slices and fruit salad from a Bengali vendor. In the heat the taste was heavenly.