Monday, July 30, 2012

Predicament of a Kannadiga in Telugu land

I was a bit complacent, I must confess, before coming to Hyderabad. Given the similarities between Kannada and Telugu with the languages having resembling scripts, I thought I could manage. But, it was not long before I realized that I was on a slippery ground.

The first stumbling block was the usage of words. There are many words common to Kannada and Telugu, but used with different meaning. For instance, if you say jaati in Kannada you mean caste, but it means nation in Telugu. For a Kannadiga it is Brahmana jaati, while it is Bharatha jaati for a Telugu.

When I confronted with local news papers claiming to be jaatipatrika, I was surprised but could not stop appreciating their openness in admitting what they are---thinking that the vernaculars were suggesting they were caste based. As a matter fact, here in AP media is divided on caste lines so as politics. Ramoji Rao, who was once a pan- Telugu pride, made his highest circulated Eenadu a Kamma voice and a mouth piece of Telugu Desham Party, when Chandrababu Naidu was the chief minister. This prompted Y S Rajashekara Reddy to launch a media house – Sakshi-meant for Reddy community and his son Jagan Reddy has built the empire so strong that the caste clash in the state is epitomised by the sumo fight between Eenadu and Sakshi. But, calling themselves a jaatipatrika is the height of honesty that makes one taking a bow. Can you imagine Kasturi channel run by H D Kumaraswamy in Karnataka taking a tagline ‘a Vokkaliga TV’? Or can you expect Vijaya Sankeswara branding his news paper ‘a Lingayat paper’? Though they are the proud flag bearers of their respective castes, you dare not to call them jaatiTV or jaatipatrike. In that sense, I thought the Telugu media is more honest. But, I felt stumped when I realized, by saying jaatipatrika they only meant to say they were national news papers.

Here in Andhra Pradesh people, who are into a mass movement, say they are into udyama in Telugu that means profession in kannada. The activists fighting for separate statehood for Telangana are proud to say they are into Telangana udyama. I know people very well in Karnataka taking jibes at Kannada activists like Narayana Gowda and Vatal Nagaraj for making living out of the cause they are espousing--and their activism has become a business earning rich income. But, these activists never said fighting for kannada cause was their udyama, while in AP, their contemporaries are so candid to call themselves udyami. It was my ignorance to believe the word meant the same in both the languages; Udyama in Telugu is equivalent to chalavali in kannada.

Then there was the final blow. Whenever I speak kannada in Hyderabad, I feel like I am spreading Kannadada kampu, fragrance of Kannada, in the land of Telugu. But, when I said this, my Hyderabadi friends sniggered. Some even pleaded not to spread any kampu. Why? What’s wrong? In Telugu, when it is stinking, they say kampu, unlike in Kannada the word means otherwise. But, it was enough for me; I came out of the fallacy and stopped saying I too know Telugu, the knowledge derived from my proficiency in Kannada.

Now, if somebody in Hyderabad asks me to speak Telugu, my modest reply would be, “pardon me, I am just learning the language. Let me not use it in a wrong way before learning properly.”