I woke up at exactly 5.45 a.m today. I don't use a watch, but my cellphone is of immense help ( I like this one better, especially after the rickety old phone that I inherited would make wheezing sounds every other day till it could take no more and refused to work one day. But that's another story.) So I got dressed and went for a walk. I needed to buy the Statesman and so I walked towards Kwality and stood there. Enter verypatronising uncle. (VPU)
VPU-Ekhono newspaper ashe ni. Tumi jao na, ghure esho. Hnata shasther pokkhe bhalo. Park-e hnato, jao.
ME- ( resolutely)- Na. aami dariye thakte chai
VPU- (after five minutes) : Tumi ki koro?
ME- aami engreji pori.
VPU- Oh accha (very dismissively). Amar bondhur meye bideshe engreji porecche. Oboshyo amar meye Sociology porecche. Tarpor Ashutosh Mukherjee'r barita acche na? okhane Business Management-er Diploma korecche. M.B.A na kintu, Management- er Diploma. ( Yes, I think my powers of comprehension are fairly developed)
ME ( flashing a polite smile that I only reserve for strangers)-: Accha Accha.
VPU- Kothay poro tumi? City College?
ME- na, Jadavpur Biswabidyalay.
VPU- Okhane Comparative Literature porano hoy tai na?
VPU- Okhane Moonmoon Sen porecchen. Moonmoon Sen ke janoto? Abhinetri.
ME- hna jaani ( And my impression of you is progressively worsening. Moonmoon Sen-er moton nyaka mohila aami jibone khoob kom dekhecchi)
In the meantime, two other narratives are gradually developing.
The magazine seller (MS) is engaged in a dialogue with a man(M) who has a very thick Bihari accent. It seems like he is pretty familiar with the area and speaks good bangla.
MS: Janen toh, shob manusher-i chahida acche. chahidar kono shesh nei. Kintu aamake dekhoon. Amar bari chai na, gari chai na, kicchui chai na. Aami khoob shadharon manush. Amar konoi lobh nei.
M: (picks up a magazine and hands him a tenner): Ei nin.
MS: (sternly): Eta ponero taka daam, Dosh taka dile hobe?
Suddenly a man wearing a lungi (LM) walks towards VPU. They're quite obviously old friends.
VPU: Tomar meye kemon acche?
ML: Aar bolo na bhai, or ja chakri! aathta train dhorte hoy oke. Oh aamake aar or ma-ke bolcchilo ( I've noticed how some men always put themselves first. *cringe*) je oh aar chakri korte parcche na. Aami oke eto ador`e boro korecchi....(breaks off)
VPU- (looking at me): Tumi bosho.
ME- nana theekache, aapni boshun.
ML- Accha pore kotha hobe.
In the meanwhile, the flowerseller (F) is negotiating with the local pujari. (P)
F: ei je, char ana holeo aamake taka debe. Noyeto bouni hobe na.
P: Roj keno korish tui, egulo toh shob bhogoban-er jonno (*yawn*- I just wish people would stop saying that. Anyway, Freedom of Expression, I suppose)
F: (Handing him a bunch of roses and hibiscuses): Ei nao.
The pujari smiles and goes back to the temple.
In the meanwhile, the newspaper seller arrives ( Thank heavens!)
MS: (taking a Statesman from him): Ei nao
ME- Thank you.
VPU- Headlines poro. Headlines pora bhalo.
ME- haan porbo. Amar lekhata dekhar por.
And then I walked off, happy to be free at last :)