Once upon a time, when the death of a thespian caused an albeit short, but widespread rise of ManninaMakkalu-ism in Bengalooru, I was one of those who felt we really needed to stagger entry for residence into the City if anything good was to come of it. At the same time, I found this community on Orkut called “Bangalore’s Full! Go Home!”. As was expected, there were lashings at people from Bimaru states, and generally the North and Northeast and Northwest, but as I looked through the topics, I began getting offended. And it wasn’t just the language used.
I’m a Tamilian, but a true-blue Bangalorean all the same – I’ve lived here all my life, save holidays at Madras [I somehow never want to call it Chennai] and other places and my time at NITK, I’m darned PROUD of this city, I feel Bangies are truly the most cosmopolitan in India, I read and write Kannada, can’t say the same about my Tamil, I’m one of those few who listen to Kannada music [not many Kannadigas themselves boast of that] and heck, I’ve never liked any other city as much, and it’s not just ‘coz I live here.
Well, so it obviously put me off when there were lashings at what the Mannina Makkalu [Sons of the Soil] on the community called Kongas. [I thought that’s just an offensive term for Tamizhan until I came across this.] All the while, I’d assumed it was Bangies [long-term residents] against the rest, but heck, these souls just went about lashing at anyone who spoke a language other than Kannada. [Aside: I thought the war was Long-Term Residents V/S Migrants, but, well, it turned out that it was just an awareness program that Kannada is spoken in Bangalore.]
Anyways, I attended a family celebration after a long, long while today, and it struck me we’re a large, large lot of Tam-Bangies who pass off as Kannadigas, and, face it, in essence, can be considered Kannadigas who speak fluent Tamil – we’d be at home anywhere from Gulbarga to Mysore, but will shriek after a day in Chennai or Madurai. Conversation at the gathering was largely in English, thanks to the large amount of Software Developers and wannabe developers present, and thanks to many intermarriages, people who didn’t quite know who the others were found it safer to start conversations in English than in Malayalam or Telugu or Kannada or Tamil.
I found it irresistably funny that a young cousin of mine who was at one time passionate about learning to read and write Tamil, for some reason talked only in Kannada. And no, it isn’t a heavily-accented Kannada, not even a hint of Tam in it. That’s not quite surprising; we all grew up with “Tamil at home, Kannada outside”, and learnt to read Kannada before a-z. But I can’t say much the same about my Kannada, my vocab isn’t anything great, and the accent has purists seething. Awesome, innit, when your cousins in TamizhNaad think you’re talking a foreign tongue when you say “Eppadi Irrukai, ‘Ka?”. The max I can claim is that I can read the board at the back of a bus AND get on to it as it is leaving. Anyway, this demeanor of my cousin surprised me, and we got talking about it. She said something about Being A Roman In Rome, and how the natives themselves were forgetting their language, and how it is upto us to rescue the language.
Gawd, the Mannina Makkalu don’t know what they’re alienating!