Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bangalore Diary

Some thoughts after a month in Bangalore:

With young people from all over the country converging here in large numbers, Bangalore resembles a university town. However, this may not be very evident during the weekdays when people are mostly in the workplace.
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I have developed a strong liking for idli in these few days. Though I come from Tamilnadu, the home of the idli, it was far from a favourite. The reasons being:
  • When made in a pressure-cooker (as is usually done at home), idlis are a bit harder than they should be.
  • I usually had them with molagāi podi, which I realise now is not a great combination.
But these days if I am able to drag myself out of bed in the mornings, it is only due to my longing for the soft sambar-soaked idlis from the nearby Udupi "hotel."
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What the name Karthik is in Tamilnadu, Manjunath is in Karnataka. If you hop onto a bus here and holler "Manjunath," you will find at least half the people responding.
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The Bangalore traffic has already gained country-wide notoriety. These cartoons are popular email-forwards:(If the words are not clear: Politician - "We have found a permanent solution for the traffic on Hosur Road." Industry representatives - "Wow! Fly-overs? Six-lane Roads?" Politician - "Make the entire road a wi-fi zone, so that people can work from their company bus.")

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Before I moved to my present accommodation (close to my workplace), I used to take two buses to work from my friend's flat. If I did not catch my first bus by 8am, I would take it only after 9:30 to avoid the peak-hour traffic. Thank God for flexible work-hours.
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Talking about transportation, I seldom have had to wait at the bus stop for more than five minutes, owing to:
  • Private buses (there are quite a few).
  • Chauffer-driven private vehicles, operated on the sly.
Often when I return home late (after 11pm) when the buses are less frequent, it is the latter that would come to my rescue.
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Kannada, it seems to me, is a combination of Tamil and Telugu. Take, for instance, the numbers:


Kannada Tamil Telugu
3 mūru mūnru mūdu
4 nālku nāngu nālgu
5 aidu aindu aidu
6 āru āru āru
7 ēdu ēzhu ēdu

This resemblance is, of course, not surprising.

There are a couple of things, however, that one should remember to do while trying understand Kannada words:
  • Change H to P (a lot of times).
  • Change B to V (sometimes).
So when you hear the sentence "Hālu kudibittu hogi," you now know:
  • hālu -> pālu: milk (Telugu/Tamil)
  • kudi: to drink (Tamil)
  • bittu -> vittu: after (Tamil)
  • hōgi -> pōgi: to go (Tamil/Telugu)
"Go after drinking milk."

Though I know very little Kannada, I have so far not encountered any communication problems. Most autodrivers and shopkeepers also speak Tamil, Hindi and Telugu. How they manage to do this, is beyond me to understand.
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If I have to mention one thing that I like the most about Bangalore: The climate. What more will a Chennai-ite ask for?

17 comments :

chez said...

interesting observations on Bangalore. I liked your analysis of Kannada, tamil and telegu. Keep up the good work!.

Srikanth said...

Thanks a lot, Chezhian!

Captain Haddock said...

Nice post. Btw, how do u manage with the sweet 'thengai chutney' & 'sambhar'? I found it very difficult to adjust to that.

Sunil said...

I'm glad you like the idlis (you should try the dosas next....take a saturday excursion to Vidyarti Bhavan in Gandhinagar). I love the sweet coconut chutney, and had a really hard time in chennai with that watery coconut chutney they serve.....

Kannada, it seems to me, is a combination of Tamil and Telugu. Take, for instance, the numbers:

Perhaps.....they are all after all related languages, in the Indo-Dravidian family. Kannada has the highest number of Sanskrit "loan words" amongst the languages. But i doubt it a little bit because Kannada literature predates Telugu literature, with the earliest "Kannada" literary works in the 6th-8th century (the language grew during the time of the Chalukyas). The earliest Telugu literature comes up around the 10th-11th century.

Change H to P (a lot of times). Change B to V (sometimes). So when you hear the sentence "Hālu kudibittu hogi," you now know:
hālu -> pālu: milk (Telugu/Tamil) kudi: to drink (Tamil) bittu -> vittu: after (Tamil) hōgi -> pōgi: to go (Tamil/Telugu) "Go after drinking milk."


quite so. A good thumb rule, which will help you learn the language very quickly, especially if you are used to a sanskritized tamil (i'm guessing).

Though usually in traditional linguistic transformations, the change is usually from v --> b (and not vice versa). For example, Vikram --> Bikram. This is widely used in tracking changes in languages.

Manjunatha said...

Kannada, it seems to me, is a combination of Tamil and Telugu. Take, for instance, the numbers:

Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Tulu, all very closely related languages. However, Malayalam is highly sanskritized followed by Telugu and Kannada. All these languages branched out of a proto-Dravidian language. Perhaps, Tamil being closest to it.

But you will be surprised if you study these languages then you will observe that for most of the Dravidian Tamil words there are equivalents in Kannada. However, those words won't be used by Kannadigas in their daily life. Kannada literary works until 12th century show a great number of Dravidian words.

However, I'm bit sceptical about antiquity of any of these languages. From the evidence of literature Tamil is the oldest followed by Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam. Most probably, all these languages taking their present forms within their geographical boundaries around the same time. If you consider Out-of-Africa model of human migration then most of Dravidians migrated to South India from North-West of India so they should have inhabited the regions of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh first and later Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I suppose around 3000-4000 years ago migrations might have taken centuries. In my opinion, except for coastal migration representatives in South India(mostly isolated population or tribals) the oldest Dravidians must be found in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. I suppose Tamil Nadu became the first settled region with stable society and political setup for some unknown reasons.

Srikanth said...

Hi Captain Haddock,
Thanks! I seem to like the sweet version of the chutney too, while the sambar at the Udipi hotel I frequent is quite similar to the Tamil one.

Srikanth said...

Hi Sunil and Manjunatha,
Thanks a lot for the detailed comments!

I agree with you that the resemblance of the languages is due to their belonging to the same family (which is why, as I have written, the similarity is hardly surprising).

In Malayalam (from whatever little I know), the non-Sanskrit words are actually Tamil. However, in Kannada, I find (non-Sanskrit, so probably Dravidian) words that are not in Tamil, but are present in Telugu. E.g., (Kannada - Telugu - meaning):
* batte ~ batta - cloth
* beega ~ beegamu - lock
* hannu ~ pandu - fruit
* sanna - means 'small' in Kannada, 'thin' in Telugu

The Tamil counterparts for these are:
* thuni
* poottu
* pazham
* chinna, meliya

This is what made me observe the Telugu, in addition to the Tamil, influence in Kannada.

It is quite possible that it is actually Kannada vocabulary that came into Telugu, rather than the other way round (since both of you point out that Kannada is older). Maybe these are some non-Tamil Dravidian words in Kannada that Manjunatha has talked about. Or maybe, these words were present in ancient Tamil, but are no longer extant in the modern version.

In addition, this is a good place to mention that not all non-Sanskrit words in Tamil are dravidian. E.g., kudirai (kudire in Kannada) is supposed to be derived from the Elamite kutira - bearer.

Srikanth said...

Sunil: I shall definitely try the Vidyarthi Bhavan dosas next. I hope they don't use too much oil though, like the other restaurants do. My brief stint in the US has made me wary of oily food.

Manjunatha said...

* batte ~ batta - cloth
* beega ~ beegamu - lock
* hannu ~ pandu - fruit
* sanna - means 'small' in Kannada, 'thin' in Telugu

The Tamil counterparts for these are:
* thuni
* poottu
* pazham
* chinna, meliya


Well, the last two words 'fruit' and 'small' are actually same in all Dravidian languages if you correlate -sa -cha, -pa -ha, -pa -ba, -va -ba. Sometimes, 'sa' and 'cha' are interchanged in Tamil and Kannada. eg. Selva(Tamil) - Cheluva(Kannada)-handsome. Again, I want to say, if you don't find equivalent words in these languages from daily life usage doesn't mean they don't exist. Especially, if you don't find those words used by Kannadigas in Bangalore don't get surprised.

By the way, 'batte' isn't original Dravidian word either. It's 'tatbhava' or Kannadised form of Sanskrit word 'vastram'. Same is the case with Telugu. So no surprise if it is not found in Tamil or Malayalam. Of course Kannada and Telugu use localised forms of Sanskrit words abundantly. Dravidian word 'batte' in old Kannada meant 'street'. I suppose the pure Dravidian word for cloth or dress(If you see in olden days they never used to make dress out of cloth no two words were required) is 'udupu' in Kannada same as in Malayalam. I suspect 'beega' also has some other root. In Kannada, 'beega' also means one of your 'in-laws'.

Srikanth said...

Manjunatha,

That was an informative comment - thanks!

So no surprise if it is not found in Tamil or Malayalam. Of course Kannada and Telugu use localised forms of Sanskrit words abundantly.
This makes sense to me... It definitely seems that there are more tatbhava words in Kannada and Telugu. Malayalam probably has more of tatsama words.

I suppose the pure Dravidian word for cloth or dress is 'udupu' in Kannada same as in Malayalam.
I guess this corresponds to the Tamil udai.

Somehow to me, pandu/hannu doesn't seem to be etymologically related to the Tamil pazham.

I wonder if there is a book that tracks the etymology of words of the south Indian languages, in Roman. That should make one interesting reading!

Manjunatha said...

Somehow to me, pandu/hannu doesn't seem to be etymologically related to the Tamil pazham.

Do you think it's very close to Sanskrit word Ph(Fa)la?

I know couple of books brought out by Centre for Indian langauge studies based in Mysore. But they were in Kannada. May be they have came out with English version also. The one written by Shankar Bhat(hope I still remember his name) is pretty decent.

Srikanth said...

Manjunatha,

The one written by Shankar Bhat(hope I still remember his name) is pretty decent.

Thanks! Shall look out for this book.

Sekar said...

Hi Srikanth,

Hope you are doing fine..Where are you working and where are you put up at ?? Let me know your contact numbers.

Anonymous said...

It was probably Kannada that influenced Telugu. Kannada is the older one and there is already evidence of Kannada influence on the Telugu script (IIRC, the Telugu script was derived from the Kannada script).

Naresh V said...



Kannada Tamil Telugu
3 mūru mūnru mūdu
4 nālku nāngu nālgu
5 aidu aindu aidu
6 āru āru āru
7 ēdu ēzhu ēdu


let me correct it and some more.



Kannada Tamil Telugu
3 mūru mūnru mūdu
4 nālku nāngu nālgu
5 ai(n)du aindu aidu
6 āru āru āru
7 ēL(/zh)uēzhu ēdu


5- aindu in old-kannada
7- ēLu in present days letters but ēzhu in old-kannada

8 eNtu eTTu (?)
9 ombattu omboodu(?)
10 hattu pattu

10- as you might have already heard "H" words were originally all "P" words just like in tamil. and so was the case with "B" and "V".

and this pic might clear up other doubts.
http://www.proel.org/mundo/dravidi1.gif

cheers,
Naresh V

Srikanth said...

Hi Naresh,
Thank you! Interesting to see that "zha" was present in old Kannada.

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funny video though..haha


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