Published on March 13, 2014
1 | P a g e Udi Baba Aami Bangali!
2 | P a g e There are many traits of the Bengali Bhadralok. Many of these have stood the test of time. This is an attempt to explain the inter connectedness of some of these traits and their relevance in contemporary Bengali society. Interested not only in the world around me but also in matters around the world: A naturally curious individual the Bhadralok is equally passionate and eloquent about a Mohan Bagan East Bengal match as he is of the Russian Presidential Election. This thirst for knowledge as an end in itself is unique to Bengalis in a world where knowledge is increasingly used as a vocational currency. It is this infinite interest in seemingly random things that contribute to create the „hujuge‟ Bengali paradigm. The word hujuge is difficult to translate. A close approximation would be “willing to go on a wild goose chase voluntarily and finding a sense of adventure in the same” . Bengali family discussions are often peppered with incidents about an uncle who travelled the entire length and breadth of the city on foot or of cousins who ate 30 rasagullas as proof of their hujuge inclinations. Charcha is a lifelong habit: Be it music, dance, drama, debate, carom, Trigonometry the idea of continuous practice or charcha is very important to the Bengali. Most parts of Bengali life is characterized by a habit nurtured with care over time. Learning is seen as a lifelong process and integrity of process has greater relevance than actual output in this culture. As a result Bengalis often embody apprenticeship as a way of life far more than they embody expertise even when they actually may know a lot more than other people around them.
3 | P a g e This leads to some dichotomies in the culture. On one hand It tells us about the importance of rigour in the Bengali culture but in the absence of clear output maps the efficacy of the rigour often does not get fully leveraged in this cultural milieu. That is why Bengalis are often seen as people who do not fully leverage all their talents or are not as successful in monetizing their talents.
4 | P a g e An apprentice for life: The apprenticeship mindset over time becomes a natural empathy generator for the underdog. From being on Sourav‟s side on his chances of making it back to the IPL cricket teams to Mamata Banerjee‟s chances of defeating the Left there is a natural affinity that binds the Bengali to the underdog in any situation. The underdog empathy wave often also envelops the need to champion causes of the marginal. And thus even an issue like the Maoists becomes a more complex issue of social affiliation in the Bengali context. However once the underdog vacates the position the realignment of the relationship becomes tricky. So now that Mamata Banerjee is in power the Bengalis are grappling to find the right response to her government. She cannot be praised as she is no longer the underdog! Given that there is almost no other precedent in this case the Bengalis risk falling prey to „paro charcha paro ninda‟ trap and pulling down Mamata Banerjee from the very pedestal that they have created for her in the first place.
5 | P a g e Mamata Banerjee herself is struggling to behave like a Head of Government given her grass root orientation and underdog mindset. A classic example of this was seen in the way she organized the ceremony to celebrate the Kolkata Knight Riders IPL victory. She ensured that the public had free entry to Eden Garden for the day and the entire State machinery was put into service to ensure a glitch free State funded celebration meant for all. While the intent of this was noble enough she went one step ahead and also became the hands on organizer on the field which was contrary to the public demeanor required of the Chair she holds.
6 | P a g e Protest is my birthright and I shall do it: The Left too seized the situation and played their underdog card about wastage of public money for a commercial sports function. Not only will the Bhadralok‟s sympathies lie with the underdog but he will also hold on to his belief that the „System‟ is always trying to fleece the underdog and hence there must be a continuous voice of protest. The continuous need to protest and reason with another viewpoint is what makes Bengalis naturally good at „debating an issue‟.
7 | P a g e However unlike other debates a Bengalis idea of debating maybe just about exploring the pros and cons and not reaching a conclusion. This can at times prove frustrating to bewildered Non Bengalis who debate to reach consensus and conclusion as opposed to expand worldviews. The need to debate any issue at length is also indicative of a democratic and progressive mindset that may on one hand fiercely guard its own stances on issues but also allow others to do so. An adda session thus becomes an everyday window to do charcha on all the things I am interested in. Given that per se the Bhadralok is a rasil manush (one with a zest for life) the fodder for the charcha never dries up.
8 | P a g e Old is gold: Be is music , literature, movies yesterday is always better than today - Nostalgia in the Bengali context is not just about reminiscence of the past but also about a deep sense of gratitude and rootedness to the idea of „mati‟, land in its literal sense and the original form in its metaphorical sense. The reverence for old must also be seen in light of the veneration of processes as opposed to output. The general belief is that for anything to come into shape it takes a lot of thought, time and practice and hence to discard it would be an expression of frivolity. Thus often we find cues of continuous change in the Bengali culture. So a college fest begins with a Saraswati Vandana and ends with a rock night or in case of a typical Bengali marriage ceremony we find new additions such as the mehendi night but not at the cost of the old rituals which also continue to exist side by side with the new. It is said that the more things change the more they remain the same. In case of Bengalis this is more than true!
9 | P a g e RESEARCH PRODUCT A product for deeper understanding of regional variations and what it means for your brand. 1. Based on immersive technique to understand the city and its people 2. Fusing multiple narratives across regional tourism, broadcast journalism, inter culture discourse 3. We experience the city almost like a native and combine the first person narratives with fly on the wall techniques and some dialoguing post observation 4. Leveraging travel based ethnography as our key meaning construction context to gather an unique POV on the city DOT NEWS
10 | P a g e METHODOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS It is a first person narrative of the city through the eyes of its inhabitants. It is an attempt at an ongoing documentation & dialogue between the raconteurs (local natives) and what he/ she sees around himself/ herself as part of daily life. It is complemented with a monthly dialogue and meet ups (virtual and or face to face) with the research team and the raconteurs. The raconteurs can at times choose to take the research team to meet other people from the city and to visit certain places (malls. market places, colleges, school, homes etc.) that may give a better understanding of the city and its people. OUTPUT City diaries – written and spoken City Montage – visuals with detailed written narratives 1. City Light
11 | P a g e METHODOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS It is an immersive technique to understand the city and its people We experience the city almost like a native and combine the first person narratives with fly on the wall techniques and some dialoguing post observation Leveraging travel based ethnography as our key meaning construction context to gather an unique POV on the city o Delhi Metro Project/Delhi Auto Project o Mumbai Taxi Project/Mumbai Local Project OUTPUT City Post Cards 2. City Immersions
12 | P a g e METHODOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS It is a third person account of the city from the eyes of the city khabris (research team associates) Our city khabris go out every week to discover new and unique about the city. The side light filters unique and curious is applied to all information under this section. OUTPUT City Curio – a curated gallery of information snippets with supporting visuals 3. City Sidelights
13 | P a g e METHODOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS It is a dialogue and interaction forum with people who are not natives of the city It is a platform to understand how does an outsider see the city – become it‟s part and / or remain an alien Multiple outsider views explored People who have come to city for work – been natives for less than 5 years People who came from outside but are now settled permanently - been natives for a minimum of 10 years People on a work related visit to the city Tourists OUTPUT Dialogue Forum Scripts 4. City Outsider
14 | P a g e POSSIBLE CLIENT PROJECTS Projects that can be mounted around the city – indicative City Immersion Sessions with Clients A curated tour of the city - specific focus on SEC understanding, nuances of differences across different parts of the city , exposure to different POVs in the city SEC understanding within a city – polar SEC meet ups and dialoguing Communication exploration by city / SEC specs To know more about the DOT NEWS and / or the KOLKATA ADDA PROJECT drop us a line - email@example.com
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