Its economy may be going down the tube and its mercurial leader may be prone to bizarre mood swings. But West Bengal does not seem to have lost its lustre much to the chagrin of the rest of us non-Bengalis.
A Bangladeshi child wears a face mask during celebrations of the Bengali New Year or 'Poila Baishakh' in Dhaka. AFP/Munir uz Zaman
United States’ secretary of state Hillary Clinton, no less, wished, on behalf of
President Barack Obama and the people of the US, a very happy new year to the people of Bengal. In fact, she said, “shubho noboborsho”. How do you like them rosogollas! She then went on about Bengal’s food, films, dance, poetry and great literature.
But what about the rest of us, Hill? What next? Will she send greetings during puja to the Midnapore panchayat? How micro are we talking here? Why did she leave out the rest of India? Ms Clinton could just as well have wished the balle balle lads and ladies of Punjab on Baisakhi, has she forgotten that the great Malayali diaspora was celebrating vishu? Where have all of us gone wrong? Maybe, she and Bill like the taste of shorshe-bata illish mach more than butter chicken and meen moilee.
But to exclude us like this is so cruel. How would the people of Idaho feel if the Indian foreign minister were to send greetings on July 4 only to the people of Texas? But there may be an explanation for all this. Now that she has said that she does not want any office in the US after President Obama completes this term, maybe she is looking to soft soap Mamatadi and get herself a job as consultant to the West Bengal government.
This explains why she is using Bengali words, since Didi is incoherent in most other languages. Well, we wish Ms Clinton well. What she needs a sobering taste of the real Bengal where she will be stuck in traffic moving at two inches an hour. It will be a comedown for a woman used to supersonic jet speeds. And let her just try and get anyone to work in Bengal, none of that American ‘let’s go, let’s go’ for the laidback Bengali.
But, she has chosen her sandesh, now let her eat it.