Some of My Favorite Kolkata Bongisms

78 Comments

Thanda lege jaabe. Translation: You will catch a cold. Bengalis love Nature. After all, about 36.4% of their rhymeless poems, scribbled on the back of cigarette cartons and paper napkins, are about its assorted glories. (The rest are about Prem or love). But Nature, the heartless seductress, remains cold to them. Literally. Wise men have not been able to find out what exactly it is about the Bengali genetic structure that makes them as susceptible to the common cold as Raina is to the short ball. Whatever be the reason, Bengalis are mortally afraid of catching the chill. And for good reason. Which is why when the mercury dips oh-so-slightly, you will find them wandering about in gear that would look excessive at the North Pole—brown monkey-caps, grey sweaters (typically called “pullovers”) yards of mufflers and woolen socks. The Bengali might keep the windows of his mind open (like the legendary Sidhu-jyatha of Feluda lore) but, come spring, will definitely keep the windows of his room closed. Because the first breeze of spring, as his grandmother used to tell them, is deadly (praanghati).

Season change hocche. Translation: It is because of season change. Ask a Bengali why his nose is running or why he is substance-abusing on Crocins. The answer will most likely be “Season change.” No one questions the logic by which seasons change every day of the year, or how one perceives the changing of season in a place like Kolkata, or for that matter, how exactly does any change of season bring about different maladies. No one asks. Because they themselves are too busy being sick. From season change.

Moshaari tangano hoyeche? Translation: Have you deployed the mosquito net? Bengalis may not believe in God. But they sure do believe in the magical powers of the mosquito net, the closest they can come to possessing Harry’s Invisibility Cloak. If a nuclear device is ever dropped on Kolkata or a meteor decides to hurtle towards us (unlikely an event that is, since cosmic bodies, following the example of industries, avoid this part of the world), Bengalis will, without breaking a sweat, go into their mosquito nets, convinced that the bomb or meteor will bounce off like a stubborn mosquito. Now if it could only have protected us against season change…

Bokachoda..Translation: Moronic Fornicator.If there is one Bengali word a non-Bengali knows, it is this. The iconic swear-word is the Bong F-word. Depending on the context and the way in which you say it, it can convey anger, wonderment, sadness, disappointment, arousal, excitement or joy. As an added advantage, you can take out the “Boka” and attach different pre-fixes (“pagla” [mad], “chagol” [goat], “chomchom” [a sweet]) behind the “Choda” and each combination becomes a lethal swear-word, a perfect example of code reuse. So great has been the influence of this word that one of the first websites in India to be banned (the owner was also arrested) was bokachoda.com (around 1999) for its anti-CPM and sometimes anti-Bengali vitriol.

Horlicks kheyecho? Translation: Did you drink your Horlicks? That Horlicks is the secret behind the sturdy Bengali constitution is well known. What gets less attention is its contribution to the copyrighted Bengali male seduction technique. While many think that the awesomeness of the Bengali man’s kiss comes from practice acquired through a lifetime of slurping hot tea from a saucer, the truth is slightly different. It is Horlicks. As Prasenjit, the doyen of Bengali movies, has said.

Two actors, who don’t know each other and have to do a liplock that can stretch to 11-12 minutes. So between the takes I would go to her and say, “Have one biscuit or some Horlicks”

Yes. Horlicks and a thin arrowroot biscuit. Their mixture of carefully balanced nutrients provides stamina for lip-lock-outs . Furthermore, sharing a cup of Horlicks and biscuits, like oysters and wine, sets the mood for intimacy. And accept it, there is nothing a woman likes more than the intoxicating mixture of undissolved Horlicks clumps and Marie biscuit fragments off the lips of one’s paramour. (For further proof of the impact of Horlicks on the Bengali pysche, please see this [clip in Bengali])

Oh ma/ Baba re Translation: Oh mother/Daddyy. Nyakamo. The eyelid fluttering, back-arching, “I am a woman but yet a girl” faux-femininity that Kolkata Bengali females are famous for. And nothing says “nyaka” more than the “Oh ma/Baba re” at the beginning of every third sentence, almost as if every moment of existence is too much of a burden for these lovely ladies. Broken nail. Bad hair-day. Domestic help late for work. Terrorists massacre thirty. For everything the response is canned. “Oh ma/Baba re”.

Sob USA-te export howe jacche. Translation: Everything is getting exported to USA. In the Bengali dictionary of causology, the imperialists/USA were usually held responsible for everything bad, from rising prices to Mohun Bagan losing to Salgaoncar. (Now of course the imperialists have been replaced by Maoist/CPM, as per dictat of our great and glorious leader.) The black hand of unbridled capitalism was seen everywhere, particularly in the rising prices of essential commodities like hilsa fish, shrimp and mangoes. According to Bengalis, prices would have remained at the 50s level (1850s) had it not been for greedy “bourgeois” merchants exporting all these essentials to the US. Pretty logical I felt. Till I came over to the US where I find fish from Costa Rica and mangoes from Mexico, leading me to wonder, “Where do all those exports vanish?”

Dada ki party koren? Translation: Do you party sir? In other parts of the world, the word “partying” brings up images of beer boots, wet Tshirt contests, sandwich dances and overall debauchery. In Bengal, partying means sitting on dusty wooden chairs below large pictures of Marx and Lenin and discussing the fate of the Sandanistas and setting the question papers for the Board exams. In the 80s and the 90s, the “Party” meant the Communist Party of India Marxist and whether you were “in” or “out” of it determined whether you were “in” or “out” of the pyramid scheme of privilege that the “Party” was. Now of course the value of the “Party” variable has changed. Nothing much else.


Advertisements

78 thoughts on “Some of My Favorite Kolkata Bongisms

  1. Pretty much spot on. From personal observations I would add the phrase ‘Bathroom Kore Niyecho ?’ which a Bong parent has to tell its son before any journey.

  2. Dada,

    Some additional suggestions

    – “Isshhh”- I know it has been much abused by Hindi movies, but it remains immensely Bengali

    – “Mukh shamle kotha bolben”- The beginning of any fight, along with the ubiquitous “Ami ke janen?” and usually ending with “Dekhe nebo”

    – “Fine”- Bengalis have a unique way of using this English word

  3. Odd, I have never read, in print or blog, a person from any other region of the Indian subcontinent thus chronicling idioms and expressions in their vernacular. Thanks GB, this makes it so much easier for an outsider to mingle discretely among Bongs, at least NRI Bongs in USA.

  4. Hai,
    Mohan very well written.Write on their selection of food nin Jolkhabar to dinner,like omlete,makanroti, Ghuguni roti,alurdam,chicken roll,egg toll Dal baat mach during the lunch Moori,teler bhaja in tiffin and chai anytime

  5. “Aamra ki manush noye?” – any shopkeeper, rickshawala, government official when asked why they wouldn’t work today/now/tomorrow.

  6. Regarding the 1st one and Monkey Caps … there is a rather awesome sequence in Vicky Donor where Ayushmann’s mother mocks him for a bengali girlfriend and the monkey cap syndrome we seem to have …

    Regarding Horlicks , just a personal memory … though all my cousins in mamabadi were horlicks kids … my mom ‘s preferred brand of child nutrition for me was nutramul !!!

  7. GB, very well written article, brings back many a memory.
    My tuppence:

    Ja Bolchi tor Bhalor Joneay Bolchi (Whatever I’m saying is for your own good): Usually post fixed by the Bengali mother (sometimes by assorted elders ‘gurujon’) to the most obvious suggestions passed off as deep insights. Ektu porashoner dike lokhho de, ato beshi phashion korar / Tee Bhee Dakher / Adda Marar etc. dorkar nay, Ja Bolchi tor Bhalor joneay …

    Korbi to Korga nahole morga (if want then do it or go to hell): Another gem usually post fixed to another set of equally incisive insights, as in,
    Weather ta change hoyegache, mafflar ta porene. Ar porbi na to porishne, Tor bhalor joneay bolchi, korbi to korga nahole morga!

    As language is a window to the soul, the view from outside to inside through these ones bring out the respect for others’ intelligence, especially if the other is a choto (younger one, that means maybe a 50 year old executive discussing with his 55 year old elder brother) and tolerance for dissenting thought.

    • Well written Argumentative Indian on “Ja Bolchi tor Bhalor Joneay Bolchi ” I too enjoyed and still enjoying … all such stuff…and GB too good scripting… I am a probasi bangali .. and I enjoy… to be Bengali…

  8. Damn! GB sir, this is too too awesome. Have been told all these priceless anecdotes/words a billion times each time I go to Kolkata (once in 5 yrs).

    The best one comes from my nani – “Tui maach khaabi na, ogorwal ho gechish!” (You won’t eat fish, are you an agarwal/marwari!)

    And yes, my whole family loves the hills and we could never understand why Bengalis like to wear maaaflaar and tooopi on a Beach!

  9. My 2 cents….
    To describe roadside Kathi-icecreams to innocent juvenile icecream lovers”Ogulo Drain er jol e banano”..
    Before starting any quarrel “Tui janis ami ke?”…although none knows..
    After having Fuchka-s “Fau debe na?”…

  10. Another variant is ” Thanda mere debe” ( U will catch your death of cold ) – i think used to bring in the elemnt of alarm against the act of omitting out the monkey cap and the mufflers

  11. @Aparna –
    the font is horrible… grey on dark background!! please correct it and people will read your blogs more I am sure 😉

  12. aajkaal jokhon kolkata jaai, koyekta notun kotha shunte paai.

    “Kotha hobe na” – Usually to express something impressive. “Ganguly ebar faatiye diyechey. Kono kotha hobe na.”

    “Mama” – Choto boro shobai aajkal dekhi mama kotha ta use korchey. “Tui to USA te BMW chalachish mama, amra city center e prem kore morchi.” I think Mama replaced shala.

    Some other bongisms..

    Khoche laal : someone is angry. “Maal ta ekdom khochey laal hoye achey”..
    Baaler chat : Baal kotha ta slang hishebe use kori…I don’t know why someone would want to make chat from baal..but khub use hoy..”baaler chat shala…ebaro holo na”.

  13. another one:

    Baar khaoa: someone who can be made proud of something, usually something…”Maal taa ke ektu baar khaoale aaj ke oly pub e bikel ta bhalo kaatbe,”

  14. Dear Arnab da,

    Tumi thiki bolecho oi Looser kanakhora Ganguly jemon Opodartho temni or Supporter gulo, J jemon temni tar choice o jemon haaro temni or Supporter gulo jegulo ekon extinct species hoye jache.

    Bengali Papers write abt Gngly’s avrg he is amng 20, bt u didnt mntion he is nt in d top 40 in trms of strik-rate, which is more imprtnt in t20

    Oi constipatin or Rugi Ganguly ta O sudhu boroboro kotha kotha bola. And that Ganguly has a bad hibit of pointing out others also O Bollo “Crickt a naki Film er moto Retake hoina, onnora to Re-take na korai ato run korchay,

    R O Hajar Koti Retake diya-o SRK hota parbena, oi bodon r chehara niya side role a o chnce pabe na

    SRK ws a grt sportsmn n athlede in school, so evry chnce he wd b grt player if he played, kintu Gangly ekta orkomnyo

    Gangly bola Dhoni naki worldcup a sofol hoini to WC final a six ta ke merechilo, aga Gngly WC, T20 WC, IPL 2 br jituk trpr esob boluk

    Dhoni won Chmpions trpy also, Kajer naame thonthon khali boroboro kotha, Bngla Paper gulo sob or kena sobai jane

    Gangly kichu na parlao onno k point out korar baje sobhab o ache, sign of a loser, khali Ojuhater Fuljhuri

    O naki Khelta cheyechilo, Onno ke dubia Khelta chai ekono, Ki mamar barir abdar–nita hoba, nita hoba o konokichu na korlao o nita hoba naki

    O bole Eden bola naki Oi din ota SIX hoini TO KI OR BAT KORAR SOMOI ki Ground ta kete Choto kora dita hobe Naki

    Jottosob Ojuhat NAACHTA Na JAANLEY UTHON Beka, Jitlai or jonno r Harla Team Mngmnt er dosh

    airokom Vaater PLayr k Ghar dhakka diya tarano drkr amadr bangaleer Kolonko, cnt c him as ICON such a shme

    Such a Shame How Bengali Paprs projecting him shamlessly, onno Banglar plyr somprka to lekhena oraa

    Onno Banglar Player ra ki baaner Jol a vese eseche naki, Spade a Spade bola ki dosher naki.

    Dekhta o Hassokor Orr Chulgulo deklay mona hoi Jeno Mora Kaker Basa, jeno Drain theke utha eshechay, r ekta match a wicket peyei ki laaf jeno Duniya joy kore felechi, r Abnormal er moto douraai. Ai Pagol Chagol ta ki kora CPM paper gulo Bnglai ICON koreche, Ridiculous.

    Gangly naki all positin a run koreche “Orr ball nosto kora team k dubia thuk thuk kora 4, 6, 10, 12 egulo ke o run hisabay dhora hochche!! ha Kothai giya pouchechey or standrd ekon o gulo ekon run, ja hok

    R Oka j chnce debe Ori Mansomman jabe bodnaam korba unar, Jitla or jonno Harlay Team Mngmnt or jonno, bah bah emon vaater player k ghar dhakka diya bar kora drkr, sobar bodnam kora, o cpm r dalmiya k dhora crickt khello atobochor, illgly loker jomi kere nilo saltlake a, r rstrurnt ta o naki illegly naua

  15. Arnab da

    O Bangaleer Bodnam korechay, Bangalee somprke loker mona baje dharona dichche, Dur koro sobai mila oi apod ta ke. Or sathe naki sobai ee jhamela, O jekhane jai okhanai naki Problem, BCOZ he himself is a PROBLEM.

    Ravi Shashri theke Suru tarpor Majerkher, Greg Chpple, Steve Waugh, Warne, Bukanun, Sachin, Dravid, KKR, ekon Pune Mangemnt emon kono lok nai jar sathe or bonibona hoini, Karon or ATTITUDE problem aache, R oj vaater player ta r ekon bolar opekkha rakhena.

    CPM er Ekta Paper Hassokor bhabe Porshu din likhchay (After PUNE came last this time) Ganguly namok Surjo Naki Pune chere baria gelo. DISGUSTING bollao oo kichui bola hoinaa ataake, Je Likhchay Or babar Matha !! (Pardon me for using such language but cn’t resist) Oraa O SURJO Noi O holo “GROHON”.

    Jekhanai Jabe GROHON lagabay emon ekta AAPOD, OPEYA player.

    O ekta Dhandabaj lok oo botay, Ekbr Orissa gechilo okhankar CM er sathe dekha kora Dona Gnguly-er jonno Dance acadmy khulba bola, Orissa CM or Jomi Hatranor Fondi buje fele oka lathi mere taraloo.

    Election Cmpgn thekeoo oka tarano (CPM er chamchagiri korta gechiloo) noi jekhnai jai tara kheye aasay emon ekta opeya r jhamelabaj lok

    90’s er or jonno Koto Banglar player nosto holo se to apnarai janen. CPM er Modot peye o (ministr Ashok chakrobrty k diya) Restrurant er Jomi nilo onnai Bhabe, R Saltlake illegle jomir kotha to sobai jane

    O ekta Mukhosh dhari Soitaan, emonki J Dalmiya r help peye Brbr chance pelo unakai betray krlo seshe emon paji ai Ganguly.

    Aj CPM er channel gulo khubi Ghrinno bhabe Niropekkho Paper against a hamlaa charache ja khubii nindonioo er against aroo Kothor houaa drkr. 24 Ghanta channel “365 din” Paper k akromon khubi kutsit ruchir porichoy daai. Konobhabe grohon kora jachchena. KOTHOR PODOKHEP naua drkr.

    E oi Ganguly holo most overrated player, r bangaleer kolonko, jeta CPM toiri koreche, ekta Third grade player, Joker type dekhta “Kanakhora” ke jor kore Bangaleer icon banatay chai hassokor.

    Ganguly na thakla aro onek valo Bangla player amra petam jader o abond or family uthay daini CPM er provabh khatiay. O CPM sobkota Paper k Poisa dito.

    Toba Or Popularity khob Kolkata tai nai ta last EDEN a Pune KKR match e dekha geche, 90% lok KKR k support koreche er Ekta matro Gallary chilo jeta Sahara sponser korechilo, Seta baad dila kau oi CPM er chamcha ta ke support koreni.

    Kintu CPM er Paper Gulo khubi chalaki kora 90% lok ke project na kora Ganguly k j 10% lok support kora oder project kora. That is ridiculous.

  16. Oi AAPOD Ganguly ta holo ekta olukkhune, Indian team thakta or captaincy te 12 final harloo, jai oka taralo temni Indian Team Test Oneday te number 1 holo, KKR a Dhukloo team er barota bajia dilo, jai oka taraloo temni KKR last bar Semi-final r ai bar FINAL prjonto Uthlooo.

    R Pune team a Jai oi AAPOD cpm er Dhut Ganguly ta gelo Pune Gotobar oo Last holo r ebar oo sobar Seshe aa.koto boro Kal o bhaba jaai, ekta olukkhunay, aapod. Sarajibon koto loker koto player sorbonash koreche ai ojoggo loktaa er phal kothai jabe.

    Oi CPM er Dhut tar khub sokh chiloo Banglar icon houar, Sokh koto, Oi Joker, Kanakhora, Kusonshkar acchono weak lok ta bola Banglar icon. More than Disgusting..R CPM er Paper gulo lok ke sotti na jania Ojuhat diya oi loser ta ke mathai tulche barbar.

    Ganguly koto boro opodartho ta ekon joratali diya oo dhaka jachchena r Bangaleer Icon houar ichche oo mathay mara jachche oi CPM er chamchatar.

    R Didi koto valovalo kaj koreche, lot of development took place since one year, NObody can deny it. Didi aamader sopno dekhata sikhachcey.

    It’s Didi’s Credit She make King Khan West Bengal’s Brand Ambassotor, its great achievment for us.

    R ta na kore CPM er kutta gulo ta te o kutsa rotanor chesta korche, oi Aapod Ganguly ta naki ambassator jetake ekon 90% khod kolkata loki dekhta parena. Oi aapod Indian Team, KKR , r ekon PUNE er j obosstha korechiloo ta o Jodi amader West Bengal er Brand Ambassator hoi ta hola ki hoba Bhagoban bachaai

  17. Aapod “Grohon” Ganguly ta West Bengal er Ambassator hole West Bengal a DURVIKKHO lege jabe ato Opeya oi CPM er dhut ta, tai asoo Sobaai mila CPM abong oi CPM er chamcha Ganguly ta ke chirotora Bidaay kori

    R O jeno akai Bangalar Player onno Bangla er player ra ki Bonnar jole vese esechey naki, or bou Dona Ganguly bolechiloo Pune Support korta!!!! emon vabh o jeno Kolkata theke boro r onno Player ra KKR a khele ora jeno Banglar player noi.

  18. brilliant…but you forget the quintessential… “haiinnnnnnnn”… the most versatile word in the baangaali dictionary,,, can be used to communicate, shun, ask, agree upon or disagree upon, order.. everything… trust me, with a bengali wife, i get exposed to this weapon of super communication every now and then

  19. YAY!!!! You missed YAY!!! (Yay is short for Fuck whats it called)

    Eyi, yay ta de to….
    Eyi re, yay ta aante bhule gechi.

    Also “BOLCHHILAAM JE” (I was saying that)

    Bolchhilam je chhata ta niye niyo, brishti hobo-hobo korche

  20. Arnab
    Was putting “prefixes” behind the “choda”
    On purpose?
    Because by definition pre-fixes can go only in front a.k.a missionary position.
    🙂
    Awesome post.
    -Rishi

  21. Arnab da , slight technical mistake :
    As an added advantage, you can take out the “Boka” and attach different pre-fixes (“pagla” [mad], “chagol” [goat], “chomchom” [a sweet]) behind the “Choda”

    Should be BEFORE the “Choda” 😛

  22. The Bong F-word brought back loads of memories from B.Tech years. Heard almost every prefix of it from fruits to party leaders. Thanks for this write-up, loads of memories rushing down.

  23. Some more :
    Aschojjo , Kono Mane Hoi — Anything slightly unacceptable is Achojjo
    Mayer Bhoge — Any thing lost due to cheating or otherwise has gone here
    Maa Bachaov — Heard frequently in Kali Bari — till date i use this when there is a pain somewhere

  24. Well, we are unique; aren’t we?

    Anyway, here’s my two cents with possible repurcussions when spoken to the wrong person.

    1.”Dant Keliye haschho keno?” /”Why on earth are you showing you teeth like a dentist’s Ad?”- the go-to word when a friend is not sufficiently concerned to even utter a “O baba, tarpor ki holo?” when your uncle’s classmate has a cold sore or when you forget your facebook password.

    Speaking to wrong person: You just don’t do it period. But if you do use it to your dad laughing heartily in front of a comedy show (okay, he watches only news channels but hey, what’s the difference?) while you’ve just received you (no-doubt awful) report card and need to endure a few “Tor dara aar kichhu hobe na”-s to get it signed;then you’re well and truly screwed(especially if you have a sibling pre-trained in the womb by Naradmuni)

    2.”Dhuttor”/”WTF”: try guessing the similarity between reactions to following scenarios: missing a train,hearing that the shaving stick which used to be Rs 15 is now Rs 25,a failed north korean missile launch,plain old feeling boring,your professor speaking bullshit,your dida speaking your ear off etc. It’s the ubiquitous “Dhuttor”.

    Speaking to wrong person: well, dhuttor is to bengalis what Allahu Akbar is to all Muslims,its a sacrilege not to utter this word and yet call yourself Bengali.

    3.”Pumpta Niviye Dao”/”Put off the Pump”:This was my morning alarm for 10 years; my neighbor would shout it at the top of his lungs. An interesting feature is that though I’m generally an early-riser I never heard “Pumpta Chaliye Dao”.

    Speaking to wrong person: who cares except Subhash Dutta? He might sue you for creating Sobdo-Dushon.

    4.”Ye..(for west bengalis) or Ishe…(for east bengalis and north bengalis)” this is the great Bengali filler; in case you’re hesitating to propose to your girlfriend-just start with “Ye bolchhilam..” and you’re set.Parents caught you red handed downloading porn? try saying sheepishly “ye mane…”.Not finding any suitable answer in an informal debate? the eternal response is “Ye,dara, ami ektu Bathroom theke aschhi”(Bathroom obviously means finding your laptop and simply google what you want and then coming back and stamping your intellectual authority over lesser beings”)

    Speaking to wrong person: See Dhuttor.

  25. B1:”Dada dekhi ektu……O dada apnake bolchi, ektu side din………ashchojjo mairi….”
    B2:”Dekhchen na line ta? ato tara kiser masai? hoi line e daran nahole akta biri kheye asun ge…..”
    B3(who is even younger than B1):”Aaj kal kar chele chokra ra vadrotata sekheni, amader samay loke baroder ke shamman dito……..”

  26. ‘khilli korish na’ – another frequently used phrase by us bengalis which fundamentally means, ‘dont joke around’..
    i can also think of ‘marattok’, ‘oshadharon’ and ‘oshombhob’..
    enjoyed reading.

  27. Super awesome …to add a few more:

    – Chaap e achi / Chaap nish na
    – Makhon/Gola/Byapok (can be used interchangeably)
    – Halfsole kheye geche
    – Gandu (not to be confused with the movie)
    – Jiyo Mama/Kaka (again not to be confused with the movie)
    – Mero/Khotta
    – Mamar barir abdaar?
    – Dada ektu daandike bedhe !
    – Chobi hoye geche
    – Case kheye gelaam
    – Counter ta de ?

Have An Opinion? Type Away

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s