I found the soul of Bengaluru | Deccan Chronicle
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I found the soul of Bengaluru

DC | Subroto Bagchi | 01st Jan 2013

A few days back, I was at a Kannada book launch in Basavanagudi where two translated works were being presented. Had one of the two books not been mine, I would have never gone there, for the simple reason that the world of Kannada literature touches me only marginally. 

My idea of Karnataka is largely about the wonderful, friendly people, the beautiful state outside of the urban chaos, great food and glimpses of her performing arts, but not her language and literature and the way they hold together the Kannadigas as a people.

At the book launch, I was in for many surprises. The publisher, Chanda Pustaka had done up the venue like a wedding, a far cry from any of my English book launches in any metro ever; the venue proudly showcased the who’s who of Kannada culture in black and white photographs, from Kuvempu to Raj Kumar.

People arrived quietly at the venue, elderly men and women, young folks and children, and soon there was no standing room. But know what? They had turned up only in part because I was one of the authors. They had come for another book: Mao’s Dancer, presented as a translation in Kannada.

The event lasted two hours in pin-drop silence. The audience listened to the involved talks by the two translators and then two eminent critics spoke at length. No cell phone rang and no one got up in the middle.

I was witnessing a Bengaluru I had not felt before; I realised I was in poverty for two decades even as I think of myself as a half-Kannadiga.

There are four similarities between the Silicon Valley and Bengaluru: both were fruit-growing places at one time, both have great weather, educational institutions of repute, and defence establishments of significance. And in both places, the locals are in minority. No wonder both places have emerged on the world map as symbols of the knowledge economy. Because, all knowledge is about displacement.

In letting Bengaluru happen, the immigrant was not marginalised like in Mumbai; nor was the immigrant culturally tolerated like in Kolkata. Bengaluru built a very equal relationship with the migrant. In the process, it has lost a few things for sure. But along the way, the migrant has lost more. Unlike me, who took two decades, the average migrant would probably not even know that ordinary people can come on a Sunday morning to listen to the translator of a book titled Mao’s Dancer and then go home feeling good about what the critic had to say and their own critique of the critic.

After years of relentless globalising, today I am asking myself, can I be in love with a beautiful woman if I do not know the language she thinks in and speaks; even as she speaks in it only sometimes?

(Subroto Bagchi is Chairman, MindTree Ltd)




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Prasad S's picture
by Prasad S (not verified) on
Thanks Mr Baghci for a nice note on your experience of Bangalore of Yore. There are so many places / eateries / parishe or jaathre ( a mela in Hindi ) / festivals that are so very Bangalore and you will be pleasantly surprised to see that people still take the time to be part of all this. I personally love the old Bangalore eateries and would suggest you to visit Vidyarthi Bhavan / Brahmins coffee Kendra ( both in Basavanagudi ) and sure you will love the food and feel of being a native. It would be awesome if people take a little effort to understand the underlying culture of Bangalore that has made it what it is today.
BasavanaGudi Bull's picture
by BasavanaGudi Bull (not verified) on
Thank you Subrata for your kind words. I knew you were very special and kind towards the diversity of this country. I hope more and more people who have migrated to Bengaluru for livelihood realise the importance of assimilating with the local mainstream. It simply helps reduce the tension between locals and migrants and paves way for a great society. In your article, you put a line saying "locals are in minority",which I will beg to disagree. Close to 50 lakh people of Bengaluru listen to Kannada FM stations every day. Close to 65% of Bengaluru reads a Kannada news paper as per the IRS survey. Close to 100% of all elected representatives speak and understand Kannada. Over a period of time, lakhs of people have migrated to Bengaluru and have learnt Kannada and have become Kannadigas. They can't be termed as non Kannadigas anymore. This is why locals are not in minority in Bengaluru. There may be a million people in bengaluru who may not be knowing Kannada, but their number is small compared to other 9 million people.
Narayana Gouda's picture
by Narayana Gouda (not verified) on
Mr Bogchi realizes this after 2 decades….funny. Probably he has realized what royalty and the popularity he can get from his Kannada translated books and plans to translate more and more books of him…..that is why this statement. Kannadiga’s are “blessed” per say… because of his “jnanodaya!!”
Anupam K. Tandon's picture
by Anupam K. Tandon (not verified) on
What a nice, sunny line you said. It made me smile. I only wonder why Kannada language is so difficult to learn? I have stayed here for 11 years, put an herculean effort to learn this but was never able to say more than few words. Can Mr. Bagchi speak Kannada?
Anonymous's picture
by Anonymous (not verified) on
No language is difficult to learn. Its all about individual interest. 11 years on and still you haven't learnt explains your interest.


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