In Conversation with Ms Basabi Pal, French Proffesor at Chandernagore College
Heritage & People of Chandernagore Team
As a part of this project we came across a variety of people out of which Basabi Pal , a professor at Chandernagore college was one of those, who gave first hand experiences to us. Her journey with French as an important language in her career started from the French Institute of Chandernagore where she learnt a lot about French Chandernagore, its people culture and life style.
Out of them very close to her heart was Betteille family. Her love for the language began in an early age and the Betteille family played an important role in it. She revealed how the whole family was a confluence of French and Bengali culture. She recalls how Madame Betteille being the principal of the ‘School for Little girls’ in the year 1903 ,sat on a well carved Mahoghony chair on the strand road enjoying the view . She further recalled monsieur Morris Betteille who was French by attire and by birth but spoke fluent Bengali. She recalls how Betteille not only shared a close relation with her family but also spoke fluently in Bengali with her mother. Their command over French, English and Bengali filled her with awe and it is this that later influenced her to take up French as her career. Her description of Leena Betei who after marriage became Mrs. Leena Dey gave us a picturesque idea of a cultural milieu. Leena Betteille was the daughter of Morris Betteille, who became the principal of the school in future.
Mrs. Pal told us how Mrs. Dey followed Bengali customs and rituals intently and her love for Bengali culture showed in every spec of her life as her French facial features peeked from the very Bengali white sari and vermillion. Monsieur Betteille died in chandernagore and was buried in Sacred Heart cemetery, following which Betteille family remained here. Basabi Pal recollects her meeting with Leena Dey’s son Pradyut Dey at Paris and then goes on to reveal her visit to the marriage of famous sociologist Andre Betei, a member of the same Betteille family. While looking back at the past Basabi Pal missed the silence, serenity and purity of the Chandernagore but the happiness of nostalgia shone on her face.