we are garrulous; argumentative – and liberal, conservative and moderate, often in the course of the same argument –opinionated: often contemptuous of those not- Bengali eager to be appreciated by those not –Bengalis; blithely unmindful of such hypocrisy; intersely curious –not merely curiousities; feminities; chauvinities; misogynists; ultra –leftist; 'rightist'; ultra –rightist; haters of coloanlies; lovers of colonialism –bashers; lover of colonialists (in a range from Britain to Pakistan); lovers of basher of colonialism –bashers; revelution –minded in practice; among the most vicious people on earth; creators and pretuators of the most vicious gangs and political gansterism; lovers of love; lovers of hatred; lovers of life; lovers of death; lovers of our land; lovers of the lands of those not Bengali; lovers of rivers and rain; vastly literature; vastly illiterate; lovers of words, literature, poetry, theatre, cinema, art, any art from worth a form; lovers of witty comebacks and innuendo; populous –not to be confused with popular, although we sometimes be that, too; pompous; quick to anger; quick to laughter; loud; noisy; eager transporters of such noise to some of the quietest places on earth; inverterate travelers; perhaps the greatest users of that odd phrase: sinikbewty… suffers of some of the greatest faminies fanatical about food… financial about football… unarguably, the greatest users of balacalves in the world other than terrorists and special operations personnel.
The Bengalis are the third largest ethnolinguitic group in the world after the Han Chinese and the Arabs. A quarter of a billion strong and growing the community has produced three Nobel laureates and revolutionaries, iconic movie stars and directors, and an unendirect stream of writers, philosphere, painters, poets and musicians of the first rank. But, bald facts aside, just who are the Bengalis? What is the community all about, stereotypically and beyond stereotype? In order to find the answers to these and related questions, the author (a Bengali born and steeped in his own culture but objective enough to give us a balanced reckoning of his fellows) delves deep into culture, literature, history and social mores of the Bengalis. He writes with acuity about the many strengths of the community but does not flinch from showing us its weakness and tormented history. He points out that Bengalis are among the most civilized and intellectually refined people on earth but have also been responsible for genocide and racism of the worst kind. Their cuisine is justly celebrated but few remember the cause and effect of millions of Bengalis dying of famine.
Renowned for their liberal attitudes, they are also capable of virulent religious fundamentalism. Argumentative and meditative, pompous and grounded, hypocritical and wise, flippant and deep… Bengalis are all this and much, much more. With erudition, wit and empathy, this book manages to capture their very essence. Unargualy, it is the definitive portrait of one of the world's most vibrant and distinctive communities.
Sudeep Chakravarti is the author of several groundbreaking and bestselling works of narrative non-function (Red Sun, finalist for the Crossword Award in 2009; Highway 39; and Clear. Hold . Build, winner of the Award for Execellence at the Asian Publishing Awards, 2014), novels (Tin Fish, The Avenue of Kings and Short stoires. His essays and short fiction have appeared in collections in India and overseas, and like his books, have been translated into several languages, He is among India's leading independent commentators on matters of conflict and conflict resolution democracy and development, political economy and the convergence of bussines and human rights. An extensively published columnist at Mint and elsewhere, he has over three decades of experience in media, and has worked with major global and Indian media organizations including the Asian Wall Street Journal, where he began his career, and held leadership positions at Sunday, the India Today Group and HT Media.
An avid scuba diver, Sudeep's key interest away from writing and travelling remains marine conservation. He lives in the Velliangiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, and Goa.
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