A for Advice
Bangalis love giving advice. The ultimate truth is that every Bangali has a PhD on every topic under the Sun and is perfectly capable of handling any situation at all, as long as it doesn’t affect them. The advice comes exactly and precisely when you least want it.
B for Bhai-Bhai Enterprise
Every neighbourhood in this country has one of these Bhai-Bhai General Stores. They sell everything you need on a very short notice. They have such a vast network that our sources have a hunch Bhai-Bhai is a largely profit-making and discrete multinational company. Their sister concerns include Mama-Mami, Nana-Nati, Jamai-Bou and so on.
C for Chaap
Chaap is the Bangali version of steak. Bangalis love meat ad so, chaap can be considered the king of street food. The undoubted pioneer of the chaap industry is Kader Mama, who set up his illustrious establishment outside Abahani near 12/A Dhanmondi.
D for Dholaikhana
Welcome to the Bangladeshi counterpart of an urban junkyard. Every car part and accessories that get stolen in and around the city ends up at Dholaikhana, where the legal owners can always buy what’s rightfully theirs for an exorbitant price. The only problem is that these parts get stolen again. Some people call this the cycle of life.
E for Exaggeration
Bangalis love nothing better than blowing things out of proportion. The smallest matter becomes an Earth-shaking, international issue. News spreads like wildfire, and every person, regardless of how far away from the actual event becomes a knowledgeable eye-witness.
F for Fuchka
This is the staple of the Bangali diet. It means more to the Bangladeshis than anime is to the Japanese. Everyone, rich or poor, fair or brown, Abahani or Mohamedan runs to the fuchka mama at the first pang of hunger. From expensive eateries to roadside vans, fuchka is available everywhere.
G for Gaudy
Bangalis women love gaudy clothing and excessive jewellery. They will be wrapped from head to toe in gold (real, fake and a combination of both) at any available occasion. Every wedding is pageant where bhabis compete with each other to see who is more heavily laid in precious metals and stones, and brightly coloured clothes. Needless to say, it isn’t a pleasant sight. One cannot, but feel sorry for the typical Bangali bride. She must indeed have superhuman patience (not to mention, godlike strength) to be displayed as a gold store mannequin for hours on end.
H for Hero
Hero is one of our favourite terms. From cycles to general stores, the word ‘hero’ gets thrown back and forth like a ping-pong ball. The typical Dhaliwood ‘hero’ with his grizzly chest hair, thick moustache and the first 8 buttons of his shirt undone stands ready to sweep our fair and lovely baalikaas off their feet. So ladies, keep watching!
I for Igloo Ice-cream
Igloo ice-cream can be considered the god of Bangladeshi dessert. A box of Igloo is the perfect end to any family reunion. It’s inexpensive, food and available almost everywhere. It’s considered to be common courtesy to bring 2 litres of Igloo on any dawaat. The ridiculously expensive Swedish and Danish ice-creams simply cannot compete with this home-grown goodness. (These writers would much rather have Movenpick on the two days of the months they can afford it.)
J for Jealousy
We are one jealous nation! Every Bangali is jealous of every other Bangali. “Oh, she’s got a better figure than I do! Oh, he’s got a better car! Oh, her son is more intelligent than mine!” It doesn’t end and quite frankly, we don’t want it to end. It’s comic relief, and we go home to tell ourselves, “Hey, they’re more miserable than we are! Tsk, I’m so jealous!”
K for Kewl
The ultimate aspiration of a Bangali student is to be kewl, and they will go to any lengths to achieve this. The numerous Mohawks, low-slung jeans, cheap metal jewellery, plastic sunglasses, the ‘fast and the furious’ stickers on their cars and painfully faked accent all sums up to the unfailing ingredients in the recipe of ‘kewl’. It’s so desperate that it’s actually funny.
L for Lungi
Lungi can be considered to be the official Bangali dress code. Every man from all walks of life wears lungi at one point or the other in their lives. From the rickshawalas and mamus who wear it all day to the better-off uncles who don it at night. New Market and other places have exclusive outlets that sell lungis at a range of prices and designs. It’s high time we have designer label for lungis and export our local fashion to other countries. We might actually drive ‘Dolce and Gabanna’ out of business.
M for Mamu
In Bangladesh, every man over 18 is a mamu to somebody or the other. Mamu is the common term for affectionate respect for anyone slightly older or the same age as you. The funny this is those mamus have mamus of their own. Some people call this the cycle of life. No one knows where the chain actually starts or ends. Since mama means one’s maternal uncle, this once again proves our theory that every Bangali is related to every other Bangali. Hence, our national unity. We can honestly say we are one big family. Some use it to get goodies at a ‘discount’ price.
N for Nilkhet
Nilkhet is the ultimate market for everything second-hand and pirated. From exam answers which you can buy before the exam, to result certificates which you can fake; Nilkhet is the beating heart of the Bangladeshi educational system. The thousands of straight A’s and perfect GPAs would collapse at the blink of an eye if Nilkhet were not there. Incidentally, you can also find foreign magazines ranging from gaming to cars, pirated local discs and all manner of second-hand gems in print.
O for Oshanti
Bangalis are a restless lot. We like rebelling against everything. Considering we’ve been around for thousands of years, there aren’t many things left to rebel against. The irony of a Bangladeshi winning the Nobel Prize for Peace was not lost on us. We fight amongst ourselves, bicker over history, backbite about each other and clash in the streets. Every once in a while, we actually have a reason for it.
P for Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene isn’t exactly the average Bangali’s strong point. Have you ever been to a wedding where you’ve seen people washing their greasy hands with the water in the glasses and wipe them on the tablecloth, simply because they’re too lazy to go to the washroom? The side of any road is considered a public urinal. Garbage disposal generally means throwing the trash out of the window onto the road below. People vomit and spit out of bus windows onto the street, showering anyone unfortunate enough in any nearby car with their windows rolled down or a passer-by. If you actually cross roads using over-bridges instead of running between cars, be careful to avoid the piles of human excrements on it.
Q for Queer
The average Bangali man on the street is inherently queer. Look at the number of guys holding hands in the footpath. It’s uncomfortable and embarrassing when friends come from abroad and see this blatant display of buddy love. They go back thinking Bangali men are slightly, as the French would put it, fé-se.
R for Racism
Some people consider Bangladeshis terrorists. We beg to differ. Terrorists hate the ‘evil blinded America’. Bangladeshis, quite simply, hate each other. It’s not even discrimination between race and religion (since we’re all mostly brown-skinned). For the lack of any better reason, we discriminate between English/Bangla medium, Mohamadan VS Abahani, PS2 VS Xbox, metal-heads VS hip-hop fans, modified Toyotas VS people who hate them, and so on. We’re also obsessed about being fair. Being ‘dark’ is considered to be a punishment for the sins of a past life. If the TV ads were to be believed, the only criterion necessary for getting jobs, being married and leading a happy life is to be fair.
S for Staring
We all love to stare, but not rather do anything about the situation. Within minutes of an accident, the scene is going to be full of a crowd of chattering onlookers, all speculating their own versions of the accident and no one actually giving a helping hand. Often they stop paramedics from even getting to the victims. Nothing attracts more staring than the sight of a white person walking on the streets. It’s not the polite giggling glances that one would expect, but rather an open-mouth, slack-jawed, wide-eyed shock that says, “Oh my God! A white guy!”
T for modified Toyotas
A modified Toyota is the ultimate dream of any male Bangali student with a slightly ‘Westernized’ taste. This trend of khatness probably came from the Fast and the Furious movies and Need for Speed games. Let’s just on the record to say there is nothing cool about a bulky Toyota modified to look like a sports car by adding body kits. Removing your silencer to make your car sound like it has a howler just serves to annoy people. Stickers like ‘Most Wanted’ or ‘Cool Car’ only reaffirms that the fast and furious kid who’s behind the wheels has the IQ of the average potted plant.
U for Unplanned Constructions
Dhaka is a growing metropolis, as our politicians would love to say. Now imagine a child growing up with different sized limbs and odd bulges sticking out of places. That’s how Dhaka is growing up. There is no planning or regulation in the buildings that are mushrooming at any available space in the city. There is no air ventilation, thanks to the sky-high apartments clustered around each other. You can stand on your veranda and watch your neighbour’s TV and ‘visually’ taste the food being cooked in another neighbour’s kitchen.
V for Vendetta
Bangalis love holding a grudge. We never forget an insult and never forgive an injury. The first thing any self-respecting Bangali political party does when it comes to power is to round up and beat up the activists of its rival parties. This is in revenge for similar actions by those parties when they were in power. When those rival parties get back in power, they do the same thing again. Rinse and repeat. Bangalis also love to express their frustration by breaking shop windows and burning buses.
W for WASA
WASA is known for never supplying water when you need it the most. This involves holidays, festivals and when you’re in the shower before a job interview. There are long lines of people, waiting for a bucket of water from the local tubewell; in short, we all suffer from water shortage at some given time of the year. Being Bangalis, we love to blame it on the government, and hence, it’s all WASA’s fault. The government is considering replacing the WASA officials with hydrophobic monkeys.
X for Xing-Xang-Xong
One of these words will always be found in the name of a Chinese restaurant, be it Xindian or Xinxian or Xing Ling and so on. At least, they call themselves Chinese restaurants, although we are yet to actually taste Chinese food in any of them. The flavours, spices and everything Bangladeshi is very much evident in their menu. We can assure you that if you have tasted real Chinese food, you will throw up. These restaurants cater far superior Bangali meals, slightly altered and given Chinese names.
Y for Yaba
Bangalis have very short attention spans. For a fleeting, however, we were all drawn to the recent spur of catching Yaba dealers and sudden awakening of the given fact that drugs are everywhere. Unfortunately, the yaba trade hasn’t really stopped and only moved out of Dhaka. The only difference is that addicts want to now travel a few extra miles to get their stuff. Yaba benders have more reason to increase the price of their ‘products’.
Z for Zoo
Bangladeshi zoos are a stark contrast to any other zoo in the world. Animals get more entertained by watching the visitors than the visitors do by watching the animals, which are mostly lying around and wallowing in their own waste products. Most of the cages are empty and there are far more employees than actual creatures. It takes four people to look after a tiger; one to feed it during the day, one to feed it in the evening, one to clean its excrements and the last one to sing lullaby to the tiger at night, and perhaps fan it during warm weather. The final position is currently vacant due to the tiger not liking the last lullaby sung to it.
By: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya and Aaqib F. Hossain