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Thing about being away from home amidst people who come from homes far away from yours is how you get to discover more about your place, regardless of where you are. A bit of you was perhaps always a dreamy escapist, but another bit of you, you know, did love home regardless of it all.

Yesterday night in the midst of a conversation with a Gujrati and an Eskimo*, I discovered that we have no ‘culture’. That bengalis me ‘kuch bhi chalta hai’. All that just because they heard how my dad gave me a careful lecture on sex-ed years ago.

I didn’t say anything. Thing that I learnt over time while navigating through different types of people is that people who do not wish to listen cannot be made to understand. It is a lost cause.

We don’t have culture. The words stuck by me as my eyes grew more and more tired of having a long day behind. In the darkness of a plain white ceiling above, I was home, once again.

Dad was drinking tea, smoking a cigarette, reading the morning newspaper and he would turn an empty stare at the window and burst into a badly sung two lines of an old robindro songit.

Mom was cooking in the kitchen and an entire school of fish swum in all it’s glorious fragrance all across the neighborhood. Everyone would know that my mom was cooking her special masterpiece today so she could feed me by her own hands because today is the day I would leave for some place else and I wouldn’t be home in a long long time.

Mama would sit beside the tea stall and surge into carefully crafted monologues on the ideological struggles of the current political scene.

My cousin would come out in blue jeans, white panjabi… looking forward to meet all the teenage girls in sada lal par sari for soroswati pujo in his school today. We would discuss a physics problem and a French movie that he saw last night.

Dida was lighting fresh dhupkathi, chotomami was chasing little Om across the long corridor in the house, while he was running in his tiny 4 year old legs with a mangshor leg piece that he stole from the kitchen. Everyone was there. So many conversations, so many references, so many ideas… the house was alive. My home was alive. And I knew regardless of who it is on the door and what they had to say about us, my home would always open its doors to invite them in for mamimonir hather cold coffee, chanachur and perhaps, an intelligent conversation about the new critique that has come up recently.

For that’s what Bengal is. It’s a living breathing culture of conversations, a celebration of imagination and expression…. And the best part of it all is it’s evolving.
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* Ethnicities changed for obvious reasons. No offense to Gujjus or Inuits though. Lovely people. : )

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