Visiting Brick Lane in London

Brick Lane London

To visit Brick Lane once a year or so is to watch the tide recede on the East London area’s Bengali culture.

It’s not a particularly new observation to point out its hipster feel, but it feels so much pronounced in the area these days, or it did today. Continue reading

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A sweet way with language

Bengali (bangla) letters chocolate

Once on a school trip a friend of mine, whose mother was from Holland, refused to share his sweets unless I learned the Dutch for ‘can I have a sweet?’.

It may have pushed the boundaries of friendship but, decades later, I still remember most of ‘kan ik een snoepje hebben?’. Continue reading

Where to find Mrinal Sen films online

Antareen, a Bengali film by Mrinal Sen staring Dimple Kapadia and Anjan Dutta

I tend to over-estimate the number of Bengali films I’ve watched. I guess I’m just too easily seduced by Tollywood’s bigger, brasher sibling in Mumbai.

According to my IMDB Bengali film list, just two of those that I have seen have been directed by Mrinal Sen, with his 1993 movie Antareen (pictured above) being the more useful to students of Bengali, thanks to the telephone conversation format between the writer and a mysterious woman that’s at its core. Continue reading

Bengali / Bangla vocabulary: words for quantities

Kolkata scales weigh quantities Bengali bangla vocabulary

Picture: Ben Dalton

Although this blog is been rather quiet of late, I’ve been keeping up with learning Bengali via the vocabulary lists on Quizlet that I and others have created.

The Quizlet app makes the lists ideal for dipping into on my hour-long commute and continuing with at least a baseline of efforts to learn the language – even if we don’t currently have any plans to visit India.

So, to continue this – and breathe a little life back into this blog, here’s another Bengali vocabulary list based around quantities and measurements. Continue reading

Illuminating India, its photography and science

Illuminating India Science Museum London

London’s Science Museum isn’t the most obvious place to visit for an Indian photography exhibition, but that’s where, until 31 March, you’ll find one.

Spanning the period 1857-2017, Illuminating India is split into three sections, beginning with 1857’s Mutiny/First War of Independence/Uprising, running through the era of independence and then zooming on a whistle-stop tour up to the present day. Continue reading

India on Film – BFI programme concludes with a Satyajit Ray season

Apu Sansar World Soutmitra Chatterjee Sharmila Tagore

The BFI’s India on Film season will conclude this month with a back-to-back showing of Satyajit Ray’s renowned Apu Trilogy on Sunday 10 December.

And if the thought of seven hours or so of Bengali cinema might be a bit much for one sitting, the London Institute is also showing the films – Pather Panchali, Aparajito and (pictured above) Apu Sansar – in single showings in the following weeks. Continue reading

India on Film: Calcutta, West Bengal and other treasures from the BFI’s National Archives

Calcutta Kolkata trams BFI India on Film

I’m often amazed by the cultural riches that casually appear online for our use and enjoyment – Open Culture being an excellent contributor and curator to this trend.

Another is the British Film Institute (BFI), whose National Archives recently released a collection of newly-digitised films from India from the turn of the 20th century to partition. Continue reading