Bangladeshi or Bengali?

I just wanted to explain the difference between Bangladeshi and Bengali. In the correct sense:

  • Bangladeshi is the term used to describe someone who is from Bangladesh.
  • Bengali is the language spoken in Bangladesh.

However, in the real world, both labels are actually used to describe the origin of a person.

The reason why I am clarifying this is because you’ll probably see people referring to someone as ‘Bengali’ and then you’ll be thinking ‘why are they calling them the language?’. It’s all a bit confusing to people who aren’t Bangladeshi/Bengali to be honest.

I’m grateful that my non-Bengali friends understand what I mean regardless of which term I use. I might as well continue telling you a bit more about the Bengali ‘culture’. These statements are stereotypes of the typical people of course – I’m not claiming that everyone is the same and I don’t have the statistics to back it up… yet!

But another fact is that the majority of Indian restaurants and take-away’s in the UK are owned and run by Bangladeshi people and NOT Indians! This coincidentally also means that the majority of Bangladeshi men in the UK work in these establishments as well.

Bangladeshi women in the UK typically are housewives and so have the luxury of not having to work even in this tight economy. Yet they always seem to have many more things to moan about than those women who actually have to work full-time and run a household.

It is generally expected of girls to get married between the ages of 18 – 25. The average age these days tends to be around 21 years old. They are then expected to follow the footsteps of their mothers and also become housewives and pop out some babies after a year of marriage. This is regardless of their financial position or household status because it is supposedly the right thing to do, even if they have to struggle to make ends meet.

The boys are expected to study and get good grades whilst working for their dad in their families restaurant or take-away. The boys are then expected to take over managing and running the business whilst their father either expands the business, or just expands his belly.

The boy is then expected to take on even more responsibility by getting married, so he is then whisked off to Bangladesh to have an arranged marriage, and whilst they’re there, why not get his sister married off too? You know, kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

OK I will stop. This was the typical life of a Bangladeshi family… up until now.

Times have changed, the economy is in a bad state, the education system is tougher and people can’t afford to carry on living like Kings and Queens as described above. British Bangladeshi’s are starting to understand that things have to change in order to live a better life in this country. Boys and girls are (nearly) equally encouraged to study hard and get degrees in sensible fields , resulting in good, well paid jobs (if lucky). And then when they do get married, both partners are expected to work and run their household together. 

Yet it pains me to hear stories of those stereotypical families who still exist, enforcing their backwards, old fashioned way of thinking and ‘culture’ on their children even in this day and age. The pressure they put on their child to conform to the norms of society, regardless of what is good for the child’s future, is a joke. I feel so sorry for those kids growing up not knowing any better and then struggling throughout their life – from getting bullied at school, to getting married and being treated like they are insignificant.

I am only one person, but I am always fighting for others. I know that sometimes it is pointless arguing with these types of people, but I can’t help myself. I don’t like to see injustice of this sort, it makes me so sad.

Sometimes I wonder, what if I hadn’t developed this willpower? Would I have ended up like them?

You know, I haven’t always been this ‘confident’. I struggled a lot before developing a backbone. I just hope that I can reach out to others suffering from Culture Clash.

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2 thoughts on “Bangladeshi or Bengali?

  1. Jumaina says:

    Aloha!
    I just felt inclined to send you some sort of message…
    Everything you talk about on your blog, the frustration you seem to have against all the cultural constraint and conflict with our modern perception of what life should be like just makes so much sense to me.
    Me being a sixteen year old Bengali girl.
    My immediate family being open minded but my extended family not so much…
    Ah there’s so much i want to say and so much frustration I want to vent about the senseless cultural constraint some people inflict upon their children…
    I feel like the more I grow up, the more I’m learning about the Bengali culture and the more I’m feeling like a stranger to things in my culture that are spoken about like it’s a norm.
    Sometimes I can’t help but feel that questioning it all will just make the truth hurt more.
    I mean I take myself as lucky but there are still so many things I quite frankly hate .

    Anywho I guess I just wanted to say that I think this blog is brilliant and that maybe if you wanted to discuss certain issues with someone then I’m ever-controversial . Haha of course you’re quite a lot older than me but hey-ho.

  2. […] whole life, and some quite frankly don’t care. A lot of these expectations I outlined in my Bangladesh or Bengali? […]

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