Public statement of a Bengali lungi

Lungi babu demands full rights, like the Tamil veshti, to do a lungi dance at CAB club house


Shantanu Datta | July 17, 2014

There’s a lot of rage going on out there, far away from here, in Tamil Nadu over veshti. Veshti is, of course, to Tamils what I, Lungi, am to Bengalis. You wear it around your waist – pot-bellied or six-seven-or-eight-packed abs.

Of course, there would be dishonourable people out to wreck my moment of glory, saying I am to sartorial elegance of a bhadralok what chicken biryani is to a hardcore non-vegetarian Bengali’s palate – i.e. a somewhat fake, vegetarian-sounding and even more vegetarian-tasting bland fare going around in the garb of a non-vegetarian dish, with or without cardiac issues and taste for meat. Dhoti, they say, is the real thing.

But, of course, I object.

Dhoti is a simple, manmade illustration of that phrase ‘turning yourself in knots’. And anyone protesting and putting forth that the phrase “actually” is tying yourself up in knots, would promptly be given a ticket to Chennai to meet J Jayalalithaa. Aye, Ms J of the traditional culture – and anti-stiff upper lipped suited-booted-and-tied wardrobe for gentlemen visiting uber-posh clubs – fame.

Dhoti, for the record, should have been put to rest with the demise of that epitome of Bengali bhadralok Jyoti Basu (may god rest his soul), or the political demise of his successor, another bhadralok, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (may god wrest his career), or on the premise of the promise of that imported bhadralok Yo Yo Honey Singh’s ‘Lungi dance’ (may god arrest him, if you ask super-despotic me, but he’s a rage in Bengal, as elsewhere in this universe).

Simply put, lungi is to Bengalis what Tagore is to Bengalis. And if thought bubbles with a few question marks and WTFs went off your head at reading that sentence, my sympathies.

But, where was I? (Oh, around the Bong gentleman’s waist.)

What I want to do here is clear the air. Or hot air, as most crunching and munching over things culture tends to be. What I want now is to get a ticket to CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal), like my Tamil friend veshti has just won to traipse into Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s (TNCA) elitist club. I want my chief minister, who, like veshti’s CM, is a lady known to speak her mind, to make me enter – along with the good (or bad) souls wrapping them around their waist (or pot-belly, if you consider the average girth of the average Bengali gent) – the premises of elite clubs or institutions.

I also want the Bengal CPM, sorry CM, to make my entry free in any/all institutions with the alphabets A B and C – in Bengal, they usually stand for association, Bengali and club and are found in more abundance than corner tea stalls, and only slightly less aplenty than people drinking one-by-two chai in small glasses and discussing kaalchaar or politics (both going astray, if you listen in) near them. So my list, besides CAB of Jagmohan Dalmiya fame (or infamy, to believe the current hostile camp in BCCI; that camp with affection/revulsion for Dalmiya-babu, too, changes with seasons, I am told), would include ABC, BAC, CBA, BCA.

But first, I want Mamata Banerjee to give me a chance to do a lungi dance in CAB, where the informally formal dress code seems to be the bush-shirt, thanks to Dalmiya-babu.

And, lastly, I congratulate my good friend veshti for getting the chance to do my dance inside MA Chidambaram stadium in all its sartorial elegance.

Lungi babu



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