Kannada: Bow to the Cynara within!

Tina writes meditatively about a“Cynara that exists within us”. She is referring to the poem Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae by Ernest Dowson.

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

Thus begins the poem. Tina says – “The Cynara mentioned here refers to the daughter of a restaurant owner that the poet used to frequent. She has brushed aside his love without consideration and eloped with a waiter.” Heartbroken, he wants to forget his lover and finds his recourse is a prostitute. However, when the prostitute is kissing him, he sees the shadow of his lover. Even in the midst of wine and passionate love making, he cannot get over the familiar warm breath of his lover caressing his heart. He is nostalgia stricken and unable to hold himself.

Tina moves further and says:

The Cynara here can be anything. Every time I read the poem, I have interpreted it in a different way. My childhood, the home town, homes that I have lost have indeed come back to haunt me as Cynaras. Many a time, I feel that the prostitute of the poem is symbolic of the city life-glittering, machine like-that I have chosen. We all have our Cynara, who keeps sauntering in our consciousness causing us pain. […] We hide our Cynaras unlike Dowson who opened up. Time goes by and we remain scared. If she appears before us out of the blue, we get startled. We would have developed so much hypocrisy that we cannot even have a chat with her. Finally, she gets buried with us… [Translated]

A great Kannada writer Poornachandra Tejaswi passed away a few months ago. Today is his birthday. Avadhi has a couple of tributes to him. Jugari Cross is waiting, wishing for his arrival, avadhi says. Jugari Cross is a name of one of Tejaswi's novels, the central location of which is a fictional place by the same name. Kadidalu Shamanna narrates a few anecdotes from Tejaswi's life. Talking of anniversaries, parisarapremi remembers Steve Irvine, who died a year ago.

Hamsanandi tells us a tragic story; he lost his brother recently in a road accident in Bangalore. Sushruta relates a humorous anecdote about his grandmother in which she tricks a friend through blatant repudiation. What is nice about the story is the Havyaka dialect of Kannada spoken widely in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka and parts of Dakshina Kannada district.

nishu mane is a blog by Meera for her child. She explains the Kannada alphabet (varNamAle), among other things. She also translates some popular English rhymes augmenting them with a Kannada context. Nice. That reminds me of a recent interview of a Kannada poet in which he, quite correctly, mentions how our preschool curriculum (where the language of instruction is English) blissfully ignores the local context. He gave as an example the popular rhyme – rain rain go away. Why would we want to ask the rain to go away in a drought stricken country like India? Our version of the rhyme is – huyyO huyyO maLerAya (rain rain, please pour down!). Therefore, he argued, we should adopt a method of teaching that is more locally observable and verifiable by our kids. It's a fair point.

Shrikant has a very fair and balanced attitude about Kannada in particular and regional languages in general. His thoughts go back to the following SMS he received.

tha briteesh roold avar kantree phaar 200 ears and spaayilt all avar lyanguages… so let us spaayil there lyangyage phar yever!!!

Although, it amused him for an instant, he finds the whole thing to be in a bad taste. Such misguided vindictiveness does not alter the fact that English is very much essential in the modern world. Even the Kannada post he is writing is done using the English alphabet. If people really want to promote a language, then there are constructive ways of doing it like designing good Kannada interfaces.

Sandeepa is fighting to have the Cafe Coffee Days serve him Kannada menus. He has given a certain Cafe Coffee Day in Sampige Road, Malleswaram, Bangalore, an ultimatum of 15 days to get a menu in Kannada printed. The deadline ended on August the 26th and I suppose Sandeepa went to the cafe. No further updates though. If you ask me, it's another example of the narrow business sense that most “new-age” businesses have. Too many businesses in Bangalore focus on the “software engineer types”. Not that they are apathetic to issues like language, but the businesses perhaps think they are the only ones who have the spending capability. Again, it's a question of appreciating the local context in a holistic manner. On a similar note, En guru asks – “Why are Kannadigas being served with Hindi advertisements?“.

The Queen of South Indian playback singing, S. Janaki completed fifty years of her illustrious career. What a voice! S. Janaki, originally from Andhra Pradesh, settled in Madras has sung more songs in Kannada than in Telugu or Tamil. On this occasion Hamsanandi commemorates some of her eternal hits.

Ravi has a rant about a writer/moviemaker, Nagatihalli Chandrashekhar, who, he thinks, is forgetting the immense possibilities and strengths of his roots in an effort to be relevant to the shortlived present. Incidentally, Chandrashekhar seems to have realised that he is drifting away into something that is not real, and has made an attempt to go back to where he truly belongs through his latest movie, mAtAD mAtADu mallige. It is a movie that has a very contemporary appeal, dealing with globalisation and its effects. Prasad Naik reviews the movie and gives it a thumbs up.

Harini has some pithy cartoon about the state of affairs in the state of Karnataka. Perhaps India. Here is a sample. The two characters are the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka. That's enough annotation!
Harini cartoon
Several others area also notable: 60th Independence Day, Heights of Vana Mahotsava.

Sindhu writes an intimate post about her village, grandmother, rains and memories of grandfather.

Ajji was a little ill. I longed to see her. The experienced semi-deafness of her senility that let her gauge my words by my tone of my voice, while talking over the phone. I wanted to sit with her and weave a conversation. I requested aside all the important work that was pulling me behind and boarded a bus at night. She was waiting for me; her ripened face on which a smile blossomed. Whatever be the topic of discussion it somehow seemed to drift towards the courtyard of death. Most of her acquaintances had packed their bags and left. Every time someone one knows departs, there is in instant fear that perhaps it is my turn next. Then the next concern is the nature of death. A death that comes with all its crushing pain in the hospital, alongside the futile intake of the “fluid of life” (glucose); a death that comes when you are unable even to die. Or a death that lets you have your routine breakfast, bath, tea, at home, and catches you unawares when you are done with grinding your betel nut, when you are preparing the betel leaf… Although, she does not spell it out, that is what she wishes… [Translated]

Tina has translated a famous poem by Pablo NerudaTonight I can Write the Saddest Lines. And Rashid has translated a poem by Pushkin. Good translations both of them. Venu writes a beautiful poem in an attempt to appease his dear sister who was disappointed since he could not make it on time for Rakshabandhan. Again, Tina has written an excellent poem – paDakhAneya huDugiya mOksha, that I chose to translate as Salvation of the Tavern Girl. And I translate a few lines, rather inadequately.

Salvation is when
after all this
we guffaw away
like joyful children
unwearied [Translated]

The terrific fake news blog majAvAni keeps coming up with brilliant pieces of satire. Some of the “news” they have don't seem unreal given the interesting times we are living in. Can you imagine the communist leader Brinda Karat saying – “Reincarnation is the chief cause for India's population explosion problems!”? Perhaps not, but several of our leaders keep making statements that come close to the above one in terms of stupidity. What is impressive about these “news”, alongside the evident humour, is their pithiness in allusions. This one, for example, alludes to the recent news that Tibetan monks need to seek permission from the Chinese government to reincarnate, and also suggests that the Indian communists have an unreasonable soft corner for China. In fact, Brinda Karat proceeds to say that, “if the government of India bans reincarnation, undoubtedly India will be a developed nation like Soviet Russia within a few years”. Again, see “Soviet Russia”? However, the government refused to confiscate the rights of spirits, citing India's commitment to democracy. Instead, it will consider forming a committee of experts comprising pontiffs and philosophy gurus to help spirits attain moksha without reincanation. The government also proposed a movement called “I am one-One for me” in this regard. In another news item, they report that Kumaraswamy, CM of Karnataka, has released a new perfume called “Boo” to the market. It's a 100% natural perfume that has the fragrance of soil, made in collaboration with Chanel! Amitabh Bachan has welcomes this gesture. Well, remember Amitabh Bachan had legal problems recently because he bought some agricultural land though he is not a farmer? And of course, Kumaraswamy is supposed to be the “son of soil” or whatever.

Restrooms seem to be an eternal source of intrigue to the Indian populace. The toilet is such an integral part of our pop culture. Perhaps nothing is more “humorous” than the loo. The fun element in numerous movies rests solely on the loo. And Guruprasad narrates his experiences with this form.

Vinayaka Bhat has some pictures from Jog falls. Venu does a trek to arisinagundi falls in the western ghats. ganDabhErunDa is traveling in and around the district of Belgaum in North Karnataka. He writes impressive travel essays starting with the worthy train journey from Hubli to Belgaum via Londa, then the ghats of Amboli and the beautiful falls and finally the terrific Gokak falls.

Read. Blog. Travel.


  • Dear Sanket,

    I still maintain, you are an excellent translator!! I was delighted to see my passages and stanzas translated so well. Sindhu’s post is something I personally admired. Thank you for watching around! It makes me want to write more.

  • Dear Sanket,

    It may be a bit late, but, I just noticed it.
    Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I really appreciate it.

    I really enjoyed reading your round-up about Kannada blogs. (I must admit that my blog being called “terrific” didn’t hurt even a bit!) I don’t know anyone who is doing what you are doing and that too in such an eminently readable way.

    Thanks again,

  • Sankets,blogs are really very good.I like them.

    I have also come across a website for Indian books.It is quite a nice website.There are all kinds of books,catering to all age groups


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