Bengali Vice: The Big Bong Theory


Bengali Vice: The Big Bong Theory

Illustration: Akshita Monga


y friend, Bapi Da, works in the comptroller’s office and likes to get drunk often. This is when he likes to reveal state secrets and talk wistfully about the radical revolution that will come to West Bengal on horseback in 2020. “I took a sneak peek at Didi’s blueprint for state reforms over the next four years,” he tells me, exuding a puff of thick Capstan smoke.

There aren’t any horses, but the revolution does look like it’s here. In a curious twist, the characteristically meek, effeminate, Gelusil-ingesting, cold-fearing Bongs are taking a stand and celebrating with pomp the vices frowned upon in the rest of the country. As Yogi Adityanath tussles with the Allahabad high court about his crackdown on meat shops in Uttar Pradesh, the West Bengal government launched “Meat on Wheelz”, a delivery service that brings exotic meats including quail, duck, and emu to people’s doorsteps. The Supreme Court says no booze near highways, so the Bengal government reclassifies highway stretches as arterial roads. Bars in three-plus star hotels can now serve alcohol every day of the year. And Didi has even instructed everyone to smoke copious cigarettes, because the 10 per cent tax on them helps her exchequer.