“Kannada gotilla macha”

6 August 2017

Rangoli Art Metro Centre served as a make – shift classroom for an odd cluster of students. But they had one thing in common – the inability to speak Kannada. There seemed to be no age limit for learning as the students were an assorted collection of giggling college girls and serious uncles. And their resolve to learn was as fierce as the sweltering heat of that Sunday afternoon

Organized by Kannadagottila, it is an initiative that aims to teach Kannada to the newcomers of the city. Opting to name themselves after the most common phrase used by non – Kannadigas, they showed their spunkiness and unique approach.

They make use of Whatsapp as their forum, not restricting teaching only to classrooms. Niveditha BS and Meghana Sudhindra were the instructors for the day and their enthusiasm seeped into their students. With their witty jokes and cheery voices, they caught the attention of passers – by, who grabbed a seat to just know what was going on. The day’s program was more for publicity rather than a teaching session. They gather every Sunday to promote their cause, spreading some Kannada wisdom in the process. However, they taught the basic words using actions and charades.

“The only thing I remember is the word ‘pandru’ which means expert. Guess I won’t be a pandru anytime soon” said Divya, a novice to the class. Typically, the mentors believed that the first things anyone should learn were the colloquial or slang words.

So they explained the most common ones with context and picked on the audience to use the words, atypical of any other classroom. Divya also said “I enjoyed the warm, nostalgic feeling brought about by the musical performance.” Mahesh Prasad strummed his veena to the tunes of timeworn Rajkumar songs, while the audience sang along. But the star of the afternoon was a little boy who asked for the mic and performed a song from ‘Kirik Party’, creating his own rhythm.

The organisation has been around since 2014. Anup Maiya, the founder, taught Kannada to a few of his friends through Whatsapp. It escalated into a public affair, catering to a large number. This sort of initiative becomes very relevant in sight of the Karnataka State Cultural Policy. The agenda of the policy is to promote research of the Kannada culture and language. The controversy of the removal of Hindi words from the Namma Metro sign boards being the front-runner. Contradictory to the current situation, Rajesh believes that “the people over here don’t impose their language but they do appreciate it if you take an effort to learn Kannada.” In his late twenties and a star student of the program, he uses his travel time to catch up on his Kannada lessons.

The mentors didn’t seem to have a political agenda in mind. One of the organisers, Deena Shesappa said “I have made many friends through this program, some even from Mexico and Spain” as she flaunted her contacts. They offer a 25-day program which teaches conversational Kannada through voice notes, sticking to one lesson per day. It’s about time that the only phrase one knows in the language is not “Kannada gotilla macha”.

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Crystal John

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