“Bangalore’s Full!”. Yeah, I know, with my clan.


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!

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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19 Responses to “Bangalore’s Full!”. Yeah, I know, with my clan.

  1. theG says:

    well, I do have an experience of mine to narrate, one which did sour my image of bangalore. I was in one of the volvo buses, and all announcements are made in Kannada. There was a tourist sitting next to me who did not understand the announcement which basically said, that this bus will not accept return tickets, and started to move. Later on the conductor came lashed this poor guy. When I protested saying that at the very least an announcement could have been made in english as well, I was martyred on the spot. I have not seen so much hate coming out.

    Now, why did this sour my experience. I think it is mighty selfish of people to go on like that. Yes, people in Bangalore should attempt to learn kannada, but this is a free country. Its my choice whether I want to learn it or not, and with such actions, you are restricting my freedom. The other point being, you have people coming from all over the world to work in Bangalore. Is this the behavior you are going to show them? Do you expect any person in Bangalore for 2 days to learn Kannada. Mighty stupid is what I say!

    Do you want Bangalore to become another Madras? Bangalore is not hated, but such behavior will cause it to be.

  2. wanderlust says:

    well, that’s very, very surprising. Normally BMTC people are very helpful towards outsiders, and try to speak in hindi/english though they may not be well-versed with it.
    in a city like mumbai or delhi, can you survive without hindi? and ha, delhi isnt the friendliest city to tourists from the south.
    however, you really CAN survive without any knowledge of kannada in bangalore. wouldnt you agree? even arbit autodrivers know english and hindi and are quite polite if they guess you’re an outsider. And the number of conmen are much less than those in other cities.
    the point isn’t to force tourists to learn kannada when they are a-visiting the city. It’s just that the people who take up residence here dont know kannada, and dont plan to learn, either. The only way to prevent the language from dying out seems to be to put the residents [ yes, RESIDENTS ] in such a situation as to learn it. And heck, it isnt like they’re putting you in a situation where all the signboards are in kannada, where everyone speaks kannada… like it is in most other cities that are not tourist hotspots, and even in some that are.
    And bangalore will never become a chennai; bangies are way too soft, and there are too many people who’d prevent that from happening.
    that said, i agree the dude on the volvo should have been politer.

  3. dushy says:

    Madras is a better name .I agree.
    Priya ,I am also a true Bangalorean.But I guess Bangalore isnt that Cosmopolitan in nature as what it is supposed to be.I wouldnt wonder if there were riots in Mandya on the day of verdict,but there are riots to a remarkable degree in Bangalore ,especially in 4rth block.I dont think there are farmers there.I saw right through my eye in 1999 when a car bearing a TN tag got into pieces.
    Ofcourse Bangalore is matchless [:)]

  4. theG says:

    @priya
    well, point 1, i agree learning Kannada if you are going to stay in Bangalore is a good thing. But having said that, I have a couple of points to make. First, Mumbai/Bombay, I hardly hear people speaking marathi there (being a part marathi myself!), you have the shiv sena crying itself hoarse about non marathi speakers coming in. Does anyone there complain that marathi is dying? The other point, if any city needs space, then it is Bombay, but it does not complain. The other, I read this article the other day (don’t remember where), where the author talked about Kolkata being the best metro in the country. Why? Well, the first greeting is in bengali, and the moment the speaker realises that you do not know bengali, he apologises and starts speaking in english/hindi.
    Kolkata, Mumbai (I do not talk about Delhi because it is predominantly hindi speaking and Madras, because imho its one of the worst cities in the country) people are still not really complaining the marathi/bengali is dying. Because instead of forcing people, instead of making a hostile environment, they ensured that they practised what they preached. They still speak marathi/bengali whenever they are with each other. Quite unlike the “wannabes” as you call them. That is the solution, not to force others to learn it and in turn resent it.

  5. theG says:

    btw, the madras comment, no offence to the tams.. just the attitude of the city to outsiders is really bad!

  6. wanderlust says:

    @dushy:
    arent you aware that the LeT’s sleeper cell in blore causes all these riots et al? even otherwise, this just proves blore is THE outsourcing hub – there was not much rioting in Iraq on Saddam’s execution simply coz it had been bangalored.
    oh, and 4th block… i used to live there… people dont need an excuse da.. the bus terminus provokes it all – you have handy buses to burn, even at non-peak hours.
    ps: you dont need to enclose smilies within square brackets.
    @theG:
    firstly, congrats on the comment, it was our 1000th 😀 .
    Mumbai already got migrant’d right from the ’70s. We in bangalore don’t want it going that way. we don’t want hindi foisted on us, national language or no national language. By the looks of things, it will, if unchecked. And in mumbai, the immigration rate was slower, whereas it is burgeoning day by day in blore. just in a matter of four-five years, you have three million immigrants.
    and, it isnt just the matter of language – You can’t complain about language at bangalore – we are the only city in the entire world apart from New York, where movies are screened in six languages. And, everyone speaks English and to a large extent, hindi. It’s not like you need kannada to get on.
    But three years ago, you could hear retro rock and heavy metal blasting away at pubs, now you have himesh. That is precisely what we aim to avoid. Bangalore has a diverse culture where everyone can fit in, whether you’re from Mozambique or Mauritius or Madras or Mumbai. We don’t want that unique quality obliterated.
    I see no wrong in new residents having to learn the local language. and for heavens sake, it isn’t being forced on anyone like it is up north.
    as for the madras comment, i don’t really think the city is all that great [mainly due to the weather 🙂 ], but, hey, mind it.

  7. Tuhina says:

    Coming from a city very near to bangalore, mysore ofcourse 😀 i must say that there is a huge differecne in the language speaking in the two cities. Mysore is hugely dominated by kannada speaking people. (The language is not dying).
    As TheG puts is, with more and more people coming from all places you cant avoid kannada becoming a minor language. The city is carving out a niche for itself as in not being the way the rest of the cities in Karnataka are. You are asking for the whole setup of bangalore to change.

  8. wanderlust says:

    sure, the city is subject to change thanks to the influx, but we sure can learn from the experiences of other cities in this regard and make sure the changes occur only for the better.
    i don’t really get what you mean by “The city is carving out a niche for itself as in not being the way the rest of the cities in Karnataka are.” If you meant the city is more cosmopolitan, that’s something that would happen to any city in its position. That way, imho, most of Karnataka is quite welcoming to outsiders, that’s not unique to bangalore alone.
    what do you mean by “You are asking for the whole setup of bangalore to change”?

  9. theG says:

    @wanderlust
    Do I get a prize? or a treat?
    The unique quality you are talking about is getting obliterated. By consistently treating non-kannadigas as second class citizens, you are not welcoming them to your culture. Randomwalker seems not to have visited here, but recently we had a similar discussion and he puts it nicely, look, you are coming into a different society, don’t expect it to change for you. You have to fit in. Give it your unique touch, but don’t force change onto it. The bangalorean social fabric is changing daily, you have to fit in. What is happening is that those resisting the change are trying to force it on us. The correct way would be to control the change positively and embrace it instead of staying stuck up.

  10. wanderlust says:

    @theG:
    treat, anytime,if you’re paying.
    i repeat, non-kannadigas are NOT treated as second class citizens. I think I should know, i’m not a kannadiga, and I’ve lived in bangalore all my life. but when i go to some other place as a tourist, say, delhi, people think my accent is funny, don’t follow the english i speak, and try to speak my language in their own weird accent making me wonder if it is a genuine attempt [in which case it does nothing but infuriate me] or a mere mockery.
    and the locals are not “staying stuck up”, as you put it.
    you can’t expect to be treated like guest all the time when you’re actually living in the place for a while. you will have to blend in. we are not obliterating what culture you have, infact we blend it along with ours, and even showcase it, like oktoberfest and dandiya raas, and food festivals of everything from maharashtrian and kairali cuisine to rajasthani and kashmiri [check page 6 and 7 of bangalore times on weekends]. would i have the pleasure of watching a tamil movie in metropolitan kolkata though a bong in bangalore would have the more popular ones screened in the big theatres and in various festivals by Suchitra Film Society?
    my point is, the locals are tolerant. but are the migrants?

  11. ಬರವಣಿಗೆ ಸೊಗಸಾಗಿದೆ..

    ನಿಮ್ಮ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ಪ್ರೇಮದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಓದಿ ಸಂತೋಷವಾಯಿತು. ಕನ್ನಡವಾಗಲೀ, ತಮಿಳಾಗಲೀ ಮುಖ್ಯವಲ್ಲ, ಎಲ್ಲಿ ಇರುತ್ತೇವೋ ಆ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿಗೆ ಗೌರವಿಸುವುದು ಮುಖ್ಯವೆನ್ನುವುದು ನನ್ನ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ..

  12. Tuna Fish says:

    For the non-kannada readers:
    Parisarapremi (environment lover):
    writing is good
    i felt happy to read about love for bangalore
    it doesnt matter whether it is kannada or tamil
    whereever we are i think it is important to respect the culture of the place we live in

  13. Tuna Fish says:

    I meant that whatever youve said is inevitable. Influx of people speaking different languages is a direct consequence of of the software companies etc, IISc, IIM and such others for which national integration is an objective. If you want people to stick to kannada then you are asking the setup to change. That is not the case with the other cities in karnataka
    This was possibly possible because kannadigas are welcoming 😉

  14. theG says:

    @wanderlust
    I never said that Bangalore does not change. It does not have a choice (there are too many outsiders). I think you just said what I mentioned. Let everyone come together and merge their cultures to form a new one. Ideally, the good parts should be taken from each and combined to form a great society!
    When I say “stuck-up”, I meant those “right-wing” kannada activists, who hate english/hindi being spoken or used anywhere in the world. They are probably in a minority, but are on the of the most visible faces of the problem I have just mentioned.

  15. Harish says:

    Nice reading this article. As you have rightly said we cannot paint everyone with the same brush. Many in the Kannada literary world have come from the neighboring states, learnt Kannada and made it their own. Truly great men they were.

    But, being a Kannadiga, I am pained by how people simply refuse to learn even basic Kannada even many years after staying in Bangalore. As ParisaraPremi has said, it’s about respecting the local culture. This stubborn refusal to learn even the basics of Kannada is mark of disrespect, be it unintentional or otherwise, to the local culture.

  16. wanderlust says:

    @parisarapremi:
    your comment made my day.
    @Tuna Fish:
    national integration also means people from outside come and appreciate our culture, apart from expose us to theirs. The latter is already happening – IISc, especially the Meta dept, is called Bengal-ooru due to the large number of bengalis who opt for postgrad meta courses . Anyways, I don’t think students can be considered residents – people from IIMB and IISc hardly venture out of their campus except maybe to lounge at The Forum, or catch the latest at Cauvery theatre; the campuses are almost self-sufficient. The issue is not with “sticking” to kannada, it is, as Harish here puts it, respecting the local culture and learning the local language.
    Locals make it easier for everyone else by learning other languages; migrants too should reciprocate.
    @theG:
    there are virtually no “right-wing” kannada activists, who hate english/hindi being spoken or used anywhere in the world. kannada is hardly spoken outside of karnataka, or even in karnataka [you also have coorgi, tulu and a host of other dialects], which makes that impossible.
    on the other hand, you have people who don’t speak a word of any language apart from their own dialect of hindi, and aren’t willing to learn. like this neighbor of mine from rajasthan, who spoke hindi with some weird accent – we ended up learning his language, even after three years of stay, he didn’t learn more than very, very, very basic kannada. what do you call them? right wing bhojpuri/whatever dialect activists?

  17. I'll call myself an IITian says:

    Well, that’s an amazing post you’ve got there. I was truly impressed by whatever you’ve written and I can’t help agreeing with you.

    It is however, still unfortunate that Kannada is clearly forgotten in the present Bengalooru. Anyways, Keep it going!

  18. Anjaan says:

    And in exactly 2 weeks it’ll be the anniversary of that very incident…

    Life is Ironic! HOw have u been otherwise?

  19. wanderlust says:

    @the IITian:
    thanks!
    @Anjaan
    whoa! that didn’t cross my mind till you mentioned it.
    as for me, I’ve been good, but i still wish i could run away home and spend a nice long week listening to radio 😀 and doing little other than lazing around. how have you been? how is the station?

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