Poison Pen

don't worry, she doesn't bite anymore.

Friday, May 05, 2006

language and breakups

this is kind of a continuation of the previous post. since i wsa talking about not having a word for "having sex" in regular hindi, and that carried on into a discussion on culture and language and someone said that since casual sex didn't happen in india until recently, there was no need for such a word in hindi.

so, i was reminded of a time many years ago when i was in college and i was dating X then. now there were some guys i knew who spoke almost totally in bangla. once it so happened that X was talking to some of these guys and as i was walking towards them, one of them said to X, "ei. tor bou aashchhe". now this got me really really annoyed. because i was not married, and not even close, so i felt it only right that they use an appropriate word. of course, they found it really funny, and for a long time after that, everytime they saw me someone would ask "tor bor kothaye", and then they would laugh at their own little joke.

X would try and pacify me on these occasions. he told me that they didn't mean anything. its just that they used the words "bor" and "bou" to refer to any couple in college, mainly because there really wern't any better words in bangla for "boyfriend" and "girlfriend". and while i insisted that that wasn't an excuse, they could just use the english words instead since it wasn't like they didn't know english, at some point i also asked why bangla didn't have functional expressions for these concepts, especially because its not like its entirely new. my parents and most of their friends had love marriages, so for some period they were all girlfriends and boyfriends. how come nobody ever came up with a good word or two?

but then X said "well, they all got married eventually, right? so it wouldn't have been wrong to call them 'bor' and 'bou'". of course this seemed like very silly logic to me, and i said so. its like once you enter a relationship, your fate is sealed. of course, this caused another fight, where X asked whether i was saying that it was stupid of people to expect to get married, and so on. but thats not the point.

now when i think about it, a large number of those relationships did end in marriage. so many people i know just married the first person they went out with. i'm not trying to suggest that the marriages were ill-advised, but i can't help wondering whether they might not have had the courage to break up, just because once they got into the relationship, they got swept away by the tide. that because everyone started assuming that they had to get married, they did and not because they particularly wanted to. whether they might not have been happier with someone else.

but then, we'll never know.

19 Comments:

  • At 3:34 PM, Blogger the wannabe indian punkster said…

    Im not bengali, but I do get the point you made about assumption. Why do people(Indians especially) assume that youll end up marrying the first person you're in a relationship with?
    what if you want to take things slowly?
    Or do they marry the first person they go out with only because they dont see breaking up as an option? Or do they get comfortable and they dont want to break away from it?

    too many questions.........

     
  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger jhantu said…

    I agree with u whole heartedly about this bor bou thingie. It really does border on being ridiculously absurd, i still remember frnds saying abt my non-bong ex "tor bou ph koreche"!!! And you are bang on as well when you say people get swept with the tide and culminate their one relationship ever into marriage. Exploring ur optons helps as long as u arent commitment phobic.

     
  • At 5:10 PM, Blogger www.gypsynan.blogspot.com said…

    well there is something sweet and naiive about the bou thing... it sort of assumes that there will be a happy (?) ending and immense respectability (yes I know it is respectable to JUST have Girl friend) I am nostalgic for that sort of silliness...

     
  • At 1:57 AM, Blogger Generally_Speaking said…

    Very very true post. This happened to me as well even though my then GF and I were just good friends and hadn't even advanced to the kissing stage!

     
  • At 2:15 AM, Blogger Sue said…

    Ah yes. My husband and I spent some time looking blankly at respective friends who asked where our bor/bou was. They soon got the point, the joke stopped being funny and they cut it out.

    And then we got married so they're back to doing it with a vengeance.

     
  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Vishnupriya said…

    @the Wannabe Indian Punkster - like i said in the mail, i think that there are too many people involved in a relationship, family, friends, etc. so you dont break up with a person, you break up with a whole social circle.

    @me-jhantu-nahi-hoo - yeah, exploring is good.

    @www.gypsynan.blogspot.com - well, theres some naivete involved. i mean, who hasnt dreamed of marrying their first boyfriend and having kids and living happily ever after. its only later that we begin to accept relationships for what they are.

    @GenerallySpeaking - maybe you're not expected to kiss your wife. ;)

    @sue - oh hey, congratulations. at least this one time, they were right. :)

     
  • At 10:43 AM, Blogger hutumthumo said…

    achha ei terminology gulor gobhir-e dhukley ekta "private property" gochher gandho pawa jaye na?

     
  • At 7:35 AM, Anonymous r said…

    yeh blog khaasi dilchasp hai. i quite enjoy checking it out every now and then. you are quite an interesting individual if i may say so.

    shall be back sometime soon.

     
  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Akash said…

    I think you people are fussing over something rather more seriously than it merits. This bor, bou terms are mostly cracked about a couple without meaning much. I once (why once, lots of times, *sob*) fell in love with a girl very hopelessly, when I knew very well she did not think that way. Most interestingly, she was also aware that I was quite lattoo about her but she herself was damn too sporting. During that time, I wrote numerous emails to one of my friends, referring to her as his boudi just in pure and simple jest. For example,

    aaj tor boudi ekta email korlo. just one line. But it looks thousand times as long as I read them as many times. blah.. blah...

    Any objection to such light hearted humor, I think is quite cruel. I think days are gone when a couple would continue consider themselves husband and wife, just because they once exchanged garlands in their childhood while at play.

     
  • At 9:54 AM, Blogger M (tread softly upon) said…

    may be it's just a simplistic way of referring to the other half of the couple. Or may be just to show that one is aware that these people are a couple. Gives every relationship a chance at fairy tale endings.

     
  • At 5:14 PM, Blogger Rapid I Movement said…

    Gives every relationship a chance at fairy tale endings.

    Seconded completely! I think its a misnomer to say that couples in relationships which don't end in love fell out of love...rather they failed in love...in all the trust and faith it connotes.

     
  • At 5:34 AM, Blogger neha vish said…

    Truth is that words like girlfriend and boyfriend if you think about it are rather silly. At 24, I don't like to be referred to as a girl - it's patronizing to say the least.

    Or even French - where you refer to a boyfriend as petitami. (Literally - Small Friend!)

    Sex again is the act - not slang for casualness or otherwise. Words enter the lexicon with certain ease depending on its need. So you can can have yaun sambandh - and it could end up meaning something depending on how much a community uses it for referring to something.

    But yes - I do get your point. It's IRRITATING and annoying to have your boyfriend referred to as your husband when you are not married.

     
  • At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I dont know..bongs are sure quite strange. In Mumbai there are numerous words for a girlfriend, chavi, chamiya and if you want to be rude...tera maal, tera item..etc
    and anyway whats wrong with using girlfriend..I suppose these is one of the by-products of ignoring english education by the commie government....

     
  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger Achtlandia said…

    it's rather sad that when a relationship isnt working, the easiest way out is the breakup. saddest thing being it is so much more common and acceptable now. whatever hpnd to sticking it out and working on things? why is it that every breakup is abt 'what if thrs something better out there?' apart frm few instances like long distance relationships and cases whr there's a total personality mismatch becos it hpnd too young, every relationship deserves a second chance. sometimes even a third, or a fourth. breaking up is less abt courage and more abt admitting failure. not that i'm saying one shd stick on to abusive/destructive relationships, bt i'm proud of admitting i'll be spending the rest of life with d man i ve been with for 7 yrs now, and braved growing up together, seeing each other thru personality and life changes, admitting to countless faults, compromising on little but annoying issues, and long distances. and thankful to fate for letting love find a way. marriages may be made in heaven, bt they have to be worked upon right here, on earth.

     
  • At 3:42 AM, Blogger whatsinaname said…

    u really do possess appreciable powers of narration without boring the reader out of his/her mind. enjoyed ur blog..nice style u've got...............
    But, frankly I feel u shud have taken -"bou" , a little less seriously. It's little jokes like these that remind u of ur old buddies & mr.X...don't they?????

     
  • At 8:51 AM, Blogger Teleute said…

    tomar aar ektu frequently post kora uchit.

     
  • At 10:59 PM, Blogger Vishnupriya said…

    @hutumthumo - khub bhalo point raise koreccho. proshno holo je ke kake property hishabhe dekhcche?

    @r - thanks. :D

    @akash - see, the difference between what you are describing and what i'm talking about is that you and this girl both knew the score and you were just being light-hearted (and very endearing, i may add :)). but what if there was a girl you weren't so serious about and your friend started calling her "boudi"? i don't think you would have found it funny after the first few times.

    @M (tread softly upon) - hmm, maybe i'm unromantic, but i firmly believe fairy tales are forkids.

    @Rapid I Movement - now you, my friend, are very clearly a die-hard romantic. :)

     
  • At 11:07 PM, Blogger Vishnupriya said…

    @neha vish - wholeheartedly agree. we need some more "mature" words to enter our lexicon.

    @Anonymous - uh, actually i think that was a bit judgemental. i would be the first tocriticize the cpi(m) but i don't think that this can be blamed on them. and my hindi isn't really great, but chamiya!!! eeek! i'd much rather be someone's "bou" than "maal", thank you very much!

    @Achtlandia - i accept that you hava point, but i have to respectfully disagree with you on one issue. given the social mileu in india, breaking up requires much more courage than staying on.

    @whatsinaname - thanks. and yeah, maybe i need to lighten up. lots of people tell me that. :)

    @teleute - definitely uchit. :p

     
  • At 2:23 PM, Blogger the wannabe indian punkster said…

    this has nothing to do with the post....but I love your 'competition'(in the sidebar).
    :D

     

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