Bang-a-lore has always provided a bang for my lore. This is one city which never ceases to shock me. Today I pick up the paper (Bang-a-lore Mirror) and what do I see? No, it is not in Kannada and that wouldn’t have shocked me because it is rumoured that all programmers from Bangalore must code in Jave which is the Kannada version of Java. I saw a Bihari programmer being beaten up because he wrote “import java.lang.*” instead of “import java.lang.kannada”. Biharis seem to be manufactured to be beaten up.
So back to the BM: The front page carried the headlines “VAIKUNTA SAMARADHANE ON JULY 6”. For those who aren’t familiar with ceremonies, Vaikunta Samaradhane is the Kannada tourism package for a 11 day trip from Samarra to Vaikunta. This ceremony is planned for the great and late Michael Jackson. Man, I am going to miss him. Once he was all of Western pop music to me. To think his was the second song I sang on stage when I was 7 or 8 (the first being La-Isla Bonita). May the Gods keep his soul well and happy.
Back to BM again: The amazing Kannadigas plan to conduct the 13th day ceremony for MJ. For once they seemed to wake up in time but I wonder what’s the point! Technically it would be a flawed thing to do and even if not technically inclined the man probably doesn’t want to go to Vaikunta (he wouldn’t want to do the twirl and toe stand or moonwalk on the ocean of milk in front of the reclining Lord).
Bangaloreans (and maybe not all of Karnataka) are quite a clueless bunch. Be it in food, sense of patriotism, current affairs or anything else, they are rather slow and hence, late. Let’s study the psychological inclination (their incline is usually zero degrees).
I recall when Saddam H died and Indians said he would go to Vaikunta because it was Vaikunta Ekadasi. Point is, he didn’t want to. He was Muslim. I don’t know where that was missed on all the tour plans. I am sure Vishnu wouldn’t have a hassle (though if the signboard on the gates was “Maam Ekam Sharanam Vraja” then we might have a problem). Bangalore woke up after 11 to 13 days and there were riots. An autorikshaw was burned (as an offering to appease the Gods and allow S H into devaloka) for sure (I saw it happen and had to tell my driver to rush from the spot and not peep outside the window!). All this after most of the newspapers had stopped running articles about him.
Several years ago when BSNL had the notion of quarter, half and full rate for STD calls, I was in Bangalore visiting my cousins. I had to call my mom (who wasn’t travelling with us) and decided to utilise the half rate (quarter rates require Bombay-like business drive) slot. Bangaloreans had mistaken half rate to mean the amount for which they can sleep and usually woke up by the end of that slot. Not a single shop would be open and I was told that they would open only by 10:00 hrs only to be shut for lunch and then opened again till they closed for sunset (which would have happened whether they closed or not)!! Being a Mumbaikar I would travel late but Bangalore buses (I was told) then shut service around 20:00 hrs! That is when I learnt that Bangaloreans were probably awake for the same number of hours that we folks slept and that was structured around their meals!
Some people blame this relentless lethargy on the climate, some on the Kannada script and most others on the way Bangalore is spelt (hence, the urgent move to spell it differently: Bang-a-loo-roo). I blame it on their sugar levels. Once upon a time, when God (or Chacha Nehru) was chiselling out India from a block of land, he decided to do draw Karnataka. He figured that these people are least likely to be creative as far as food goes, so he placed them in the midst of states which had their own cuisines (and far from the states which didn’t want any damage done to their sarson ka saag and makki di roti). Then he gave them bags of sugar. Karnataka dishes are predominantly other state dishes with a scary amount of jaggery or sugar. It is like they are all half-blind and confuse sugar for salt or crushed jaggery for chilli powder (colour blind). They think they are being creative: Let’s take an idly and do something with it… hmmm… let’s add sugar. Let’s take a bonda and do something with it… hmmm… let’s call it Mysore bonda. And then they get confused with similar looking liquids: sambhar, kozhambu and rasam are all the same to them and true blue Kannadigas mix soup into their rice because, you guessed it, it is a brown liquid too. And then they create their own flavour by adding jaggery to it. So picture Kannadigas looking over their shoulder into your dubba and taking home your dish only to bring back the same thing the next day with sugar or jaggery in it calling it their own huli or gojju or saaru. Everything which is not a gojju is a huli until you dilute it and then it becomes a saaru. That is why Kannadigas never have Bengali friends. What more can you do to a rosagulla!?
Everything Bangalorean is Namma (if you are in Bangalore) and everything that is not work is a habba. Everything that is too much for you is sakath and if you are Kannadiga too, then you are maga. You can combine them in various forms and you know enough Kannada. Namma sakath habba, maga. Namma sakath maga. Maga, namma habba. Or the radio repeat: Sakath hot maga! It goes on. Another simple way to manage with Kannadigas is adding a “maadi” at the end of every English sentence. Sounds very Kannada to a lot of people.
Why do you need to learn Kannada? Because many people out here speak just that. Buses carry information in Kannada and all of them go to a place which resembles a poorly untangled jalebi. Karnataka ministers are striving hard to make everything Kannada. All government office forms are in Kannada so you basically have no clue whether you signed on your own certificate of death or marriage certificate (but does it matter?).
Then we are left with the urge to be a part of everything: software, gay parades, software, beauty pageants, software, traffic congestion, software, pub culture, software, flooded roads because someone emptied a bucket of water, software, rising hemlines, software (no, no, not related to the rising hemlines), world cup matches, software, rock concerts, software and the IT industry. The movie industry is ultra-sad with all actresses top heavy and actors top-light.
In summary, if you can “swalpa adjust maadi” then it is a fun place as long as you are not Bang-a-lored! No, lored is not a person.