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Sunday, January 30, 2005

My first girl friend (apparently) - thanks for reminding Anonymous :)
This post is courtesy an Anonymous reader of my blog with whom I had a very interesting via-blog discourse this morning. Sadly, even though the incident concerned was quite funny when it happened, part of the humor lies in the use of Bengali and will probably get lost in translation. Moi shall however try (try try try till you succeed - King Bruce and the spider). For starters, some cultural info:

Unlike English, many Indian languages have different forms of the word "you". I speak Bengali and Hindi and both these languages have "tu" (tui), "tum" (tumi) and "aap" (apni) - all meaning "you" but signifying increasing degrees of respect. Now my parents did two things involving these nuances as a kid - (a) taught me to call everyone at least "tumi" to denote a certain amount of respect and (b) kept me away from half the World's population aka women. So I had no idea abt the apparent norm that if a guy calls a girl of the same age "tumi" in Bengali, he is supposed to foster "special feelings" (excessive use of "" being made) for her. Otherwise, the guy should have addressed the girl with a harmless "tui". Now the main story (which is actually smaller than the prelude):

Finally, I could not be kept away from women any more. I joined a Chemistry tuition in Std XI that had a healthy dose of skirt clad, tight topped, bag carrying ladies. One of them turned out to be my dad's colleague's daughter. Obviously we started talking and ignorant of social norms I started addressing her as "tumi". Now the girl instantly concluded that it wasn't just me who was talking, but my raging hormones were conversing too. Why else will I call her "tumi"? However, she did not stop me (or educate me). Soon, it seems, we started having an almost-affair without me realizing or being a part of it. Then finally she confided in her dad. who apparently was quite impressed by her taste in men and broke the news to my dad.

A little word abt my dad at this point - he is not exactly Mr. Open-minded. He came home and blasted me for being more interested in Physi(que)s in Chemistry class. "Why do you call her tumi and why do you just talk to her in the class?" he asked. "I call everyone tumi and she is the only person I know in the class," I retorted.

To cut a long story short - the confusion soon ended. My dad, who didn't have to teach me abt the birds and the bees had to teach me the nuances of Bengali chirping. The girl stopped talking to me and apparently eloped with some guy in the days to come. As far as I am concerned, I figured out that it wasn't just me who adopted the "tumi" standard. So till date I address most people as "tumi" and if possible avoid all confusion by sticking to English.

Long story. No message. Yabadabadoo!

Comments:
hehe...tahole ki kora jai boloto...tomake chini na...tai tui bolbo na...eta amar baba ma amake shikhiyeche...aar aapni parlam na bolte...tahole baki roilo tumi...tateo shomoshsha...tahole upai ki...either comment kora jaabe na aar ta nahole banglai kichu lekha jaabe na...hmm...
 
na na, please do comment and please say "tumi" as much as you want - i would have done the same. the fact that ppl other than me use tumi too for starters made me remember the incident - i have no problems with tumi, tui, apni or anything else. cheers :)
 
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