So the bigger part of my identity is, I’m a Bong; yes, despite a “controversy” I had trapped myself in at the IIT freshers (people misunderstood me, so I don’t wanna bring it up; those who know it, know it. But yet again, being an Indian is more important to me than being a Bengali). What does being a Bong mean? For the record, many people outside West Bengal have barely heard the name of any place other than Kolkata, and that’s pathetic. Born in Chandannagar and brought up in Bardhaman, I have always had a hard time explaining to my friends in Delhi where do I hail from. And the reason why I say it’s pathetic is people are not aware of the different cultures embodied in different districts of Bengal. I find immense pleasure in telling people whatever little facts I know… about the French colonisation of Chandannagar, the historical importance of Bardhaman, Tagore’s very own Shantiniketan, the handicrafts of Bishnupur, the hills of Purulia, beaches of Digha; about the films of masterminds like Satyajit Ray, music of Rabindranath Tagore, Nazrul and even contemporary musicians, literature of Tagore, Saratchandra and hundreds of others.. I want people to take more interest in my culture, the culture of Bengal as a whole, not only the metropolitan called Kolkata, which gives off names like Park Street, College Street, Salt Lake and other catchy ones.
Not that I am antagonistic towards Kolkata, but Bengal is really much more – more than the love of fish and Rasogolla, more than Durga Puja, more than Rabindrasangeet. It is needless to say we will forever live with these, and we must. But a culture is like a multi-layered onion – you just keep peeling off and each layer is different, and it’s beautiful. I want you to visit places other than Kolkata when you come to Bengal, and I guarantee you the experience of a lifetime.
Lastly, it is one thing to feel proud of one’s culture and another thing to look down upon others’. Your culture will be respected only if you respect others’, and that is a huge part of India’s diversity, which is our biggest asset and sets us apart from all other countries in the world.