By Neetole Mitra:
It’s not every day that one encounters a book about Bengal, written and compiled by Bengalis from different walks of life, talking about everything Bengali under the sun.
That’s just way too much Bengal reference in one line and if that excites you, then you must read ‘Bengal Write Ahead’.
The book is a compilation of the 50 best stories, essays and narrations on Bengal that were submitted as part of a writing competition on Facebook that lay open a platform for Bangalis and Bengal lovers to submit write-ups about their city in both English and Bengali.
It is, to put it out right at the beginning, a book that all Bengal enthusiasts will love. Irrespective of if you have lived in the city all your life or not; irrespective of which side of the border you belong – East or West and irrespective of how much maach you consume on a daily basis.
‘Bengal Write Ahead’ successfully captures the essence of the region it talks about. With a forward by Derek O’Brien, this book is a diverse compilation and has something in stock for all demeanors of readers.
If you are a bhabe bhola (nostalgia struck) Bengali then I recommend The Idiosyncratic Collectivity, When You Think About Me, Parts of a Whole (to name just a few). If you are a football fanatic, then read – ‘Bengoal’ Right Ahead, Citius Altius Fortius and Story of Football. If you are a film lover – Rituda… Tomar Jyonno… If you are an art love… I could go on. If you are a food fanatic, bibliophile – no, indeed, this book is for everyone who remotely has or has had any link with Bengal.
Also, for those of you who have long complained about a world which shamelessly wags its tail for a ‘foreign’ language then you will indeed get goosebumps when you see the Bangla script in proud print alongside its western cousin. Besides, reading about one’s land in one own tongue is an experience that can’t be quite explained. Certain phrases and casual references make all the difference, sets up all the intricacies one needs that translations often miss out on.
This 134 pages long book is a delight for metro readers and those who would like to read more but fail to do so for the millions of reasons that life presents. Most of the articles are written in a fairly simple language and are quite articulate. The average length of each article is 700 to 900 words (which is a couple of pages each). ‘Bengal Write Ahead’ will delight you even if you have just 10 minutes at hand to spare.
However, what I didn’t like about this compilation is the decision to pick out 50 stories. Honestly, after a while, it gets a little repetitive as the themes and the points of successive articles clash with each other. If you have read a little something about boi para a few pages back, you again find yourself reading about a similar experience in different words but not necessarily as gripping as the previous story.
But of course, if you are a bibliophile with a special something for serene book covers then you might want to pick out this Rupa Publication print with it’s beautiful water colour illustration cover of tram, Howra bridge and of course Durga maa.