The Bong Connection


Here's an advice to fellow travellers. Never help out a 'bong'.

For the uninitiated, a 'bong' is a slang for a typical person of Bengali origin from Calcutta. To clarify, even I am a Bengali. But as I've pointed out numerous times, there are two types of 'bongs'. There's the Bengali, who are normal people, your everyday person. Then there's the Bangali. This is your typical Calcutta bred bong, who's major attraction in life include eating fish rice, doing 'adda' with friends in the local 'para', and sleeping. I'm not really gonna elaborate further, cuz I could write an entire book on the distinctions between the two. Now back to what I was saying, never help out a 'bong' (read: Bangali). A bit of background first. With the boom of numerous low cost carriers in India, a new fleet of flying customers have emerged, most of them from the bottom half of India's surplus middle class. And majority of them are first time fliers.

So this time when I went back to India, I was flying from Chennai to Kolkata. As I was checking in, a 'bong' couple next to me were having difficulty conversing with the check in staff. It was apparent that they spoke nearly no English or Hindi, and were desperately trying to figure out what the boarding passes handed out to them meant, why did the nice lady bending the counter take their luggage from them, and why wasn't the so-called airplane they heard of anywhere in sight. As the airline staff didn't speak any Bengali either, I offered to help out, explaining about the security check, the boarding process etc. Typical of bong behavior, they started called me 'lokhi-chele' (blessed child). And after that was sheer misery. The couple followed me everywhere I went. As I was sitting in the waiting area, they came and sat beside me, one on either side. I was constantly bombarded with questions - 'What is your name?', 'Where are you coming from', 'Why are you travelling alone', 'How much did your tickets cost', 'What did you eat for breakfast'.....the questions were endless. I tried to be as polite as possible, keeping my answers to a minimum one word or one sentence. I tried to make an excuse that I had to call someone, so I pretended to head off toward the public telephone. But they followed me wherever I went!! I came back and sat down, still bombarded by their questions and observations. They were mostly interested as to why I was studying in Australia, and why didn't my parents accompany me on my trip. And then came the dreaded question a bong in such a situation I was hoping wouldn't ask...but there it came..."You know I have a daughter your age. She's just like you. Maybe you should meet.." AAAAHHH....I quickly pretended to have a headache cuz of all the travelling and shut my eyes as if to sleep.
They didn't quite shut them up, but it did quieten them down.

Time came for the security check, and they had to create a scene there as well. As I passed through the metal detector and waited for the security personnel to frisk me. And these two 'bongs' came rushing in and stood behind me. The guard kindly explained to them that they had to await their turn, as it was to be only one person at a time. But they refused to see the logic in that, bringing up another series of arguments on why it should be so. Ah! It was a surprise they weren't kicked out of the airport there itself. Once on the flight, I headed towards the seats next to the exit as they had more legroom (the airline offered free seating on a first-come-first-serve basis). And as expected, they also came and sat down right next to me. Their handbaggage consisted of jute bags filled with various kick-knacks , which they placed between their legs. The air hostess came and asked them to keep it in the overhead compartments, as keeping anything on the floor next to the emergency exits were prohibited. And there started the next series of arguments - 'Why should we hand our baggage to you?', 'Why can everyone else keep their baggage on the floor', 'When we travel by train nothing like this ever happens'....I was having quite a hard time to control my laughter. During the flight i feigned the usual 'I'm sleepy' routine, which surprisingly worked this time.
After that there were more arguments between them and the air hostesses, which I listened to heartily behind my fake sleep! Once the plane landed they started a ruckus on why it was taking them so long to open the doors and so was total madness!!!

I'm never travelling with bongs again....

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