We Are Bengalis

We are Bengalis. We love our rice cooked and our fish fried. We adore Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray with the same breath. We watch cricket and football (the Indian version) with a passion so intense that the television screen shakes at our collective ooohs and aahhs. We read, we write, we argue till the sun sets in the sky.

And we are bold!!! Take the legendary Indian cricket captain, Sourav Ganguly, for instance. We call him dada (older brother) with an adoration that is mixed with a desire to be like him in our lives. We live in Houston and Honolulu, in Tokyo and Texas, and if you go to the deep ends of the earth, I am sure you will find one of us making the case for student unions and parliamentary democracy. We are a unique breed, and we know and love it!

To know us, you have to know our history. We come from a part of the world that has seen multiple foreign invasions, and yet we have survived and thrived. We represent all the major world religions, and yet we have one common language. Our first written script dates back a thousand years, and our spoken language has been compared to French in its mesmeric beauty. You cannot help but fall in love with us.

We number in the millions and we own millions more combined. You won't find a more educated, sophisticated, antiquated bunch of do-gooders. We love with the same ferocity that we hate. We write with the same passion that we discuss politics at dinner parties. We are known to be charismatic and carefree. We sing along to various tunes, from country to qawalis, and from rap to ragas. We are humble, and yet when a line is drawn in the sand, you won't find us taking a step back in fear.

We have many celebrities amongst our ranks. Take the Noble Prize winners, Amartya Sen and Muhammad Yunus, for example. And who can forget the Pulitzer Prize winners, Jhumpa Lahiri and Siddharth Mukherjee.

We excel in all fields, from poetry to projection, from neurosurgery to nanotechnology. Our great film luminaries have found themselves carved in stone and worshipped, even in places far away from the motherland, such as Sicily. We aim to please, and our pleasures are many.

We have conquered the world through the spirituality of a Swami Vivekananda and the technology of an Amar Bose. We are not to be taken lightly, and we don't expect handouts in life. Our swimmers have swum against the world's fiercest tides, and our mountaineers have climbed the world's tallest peaks. We know who we are, and hence difficult to beat in life's various battles. C'mon, I know you want to be like us. But my friend, even if you wore our masks, you can never be us. We will always remain the original Bengalis.