How does one identify a Bengali?
1. Maach (fish), mishti (sweets) and Gelusil (in that order)!
2. Rabindra sangeet, football and adda!
3. Ek cup Cha (tea), travelling, with or without Monkey cap!!
Yes, the last is the most virulent of diseases that attacks the Bengali mindset, a genetic disease. Always ready to hit the highway, travels Kundu special or for the new Bengali explore the skies, there is this one stereo typical obsession a bong suffers from …Bhraman (travel)!!
A Bengali is an inveterate traveller—be it Digha or Mandarmani, Shantiniketan or Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kanyakumari or Bangkok, Singapore, or Egypt—60% of travellers within and without India are Bengalis.
There is something about travelling that gives the Bengali “high” beyond ecstasy or any other drugs. Travelling gives them a surge of adrenaline boost. Routine and everyday boredom is put on a back burner; instead, they like to take off with their backpacks! They are certainly happy wanderers. No wonder travel and tourist fairs in Bengal are booming with excited adventurers ready to march furiously into a brave new world.
What makes the Bengalis such ‘in Love” travellers?
The social psyche of a Bengali is such that routine and the daily grind over a long period makes him/her feel trapped. Just like a fish swimming to the surface to take a few breaths so also the Bengali must breathe …hence travelling is essential. This provides a fresh lease of life, an enthusiasm to attack the new challenges and say thank you for another day.
The alternative for a Bengali would be best described as living death. As a Bengali swims the seas albeit in a dhoti or a saree, climbs the hills huffing and puffing or traverses the deserts on a camel back, he is infused with a new energy.
Wanderlust, both sublime and experiential! Irrespective of their financial condition, a Bengali must travel at least once a year, Durga Puja being the ideal time. In fact, they do believe this is the best way to spend money.
The experience one is able to accumulate is much beyond the money they would collect. As J. L. Beatty says, “Jobs fill your pockets but adventures fill your soul.”
These days foreign countries are proving to be hugely popular and tourist operators are riding the wave. So Siliguri can be perhaps replaced by Singapore and Rajasthan by Russia.
Of course, the discovery of India is always a top priority.
Love for food
Pet puja is a puja that all Bengalis perform with a lot of devotion and adoration. They love to taste the cuisines of different places and each mouthful taken, encompasses a whole lot of feelings; anticipation, savouring, relishing and finally satisfaction expressed with a loud and unholy burp!!! No such thing as dieting is part of a Bengali traveller’s vocabulary. Of course they all go well stocked with digestive medications to spur them on to greater efforts to activate their taste buds.
Education and cultural growth
Education and cultural growth are two plaques all Bengalis hold dear. With inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore, Vivekananda and other stalwarts, Bengalis who are prolific readers and cultural enthusiasts enlarge their minds via travelling. The next generation of Bengalis accompanying the parents are imbibed with the same sense of wonder (wander). Conversely, it also helps to reinforce the pride in one’s own cultural heritage and traditions, the quintessential Bengali pride always at a peak…the song, “emon desh ti kothao khoonje pabena go tumi,” the anthem of the Bengali traveller!
To conclude, Bengali travellers are highly adventurers, socially alive, thirsty for knowledge and gathering new learning, which makes them great travellers always yearning for greener and newer pastures.
After all, Hans Christan Anderson said, “To travel is to live”!
“Travelling …it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a story teller”…. Ivan Batutta.
And Bengalis love stories!!
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