5. Akki and Anna - The story of Mr. Pontu
Uncooked rice bowl
I was born and brought up in a small village in a North Eastern state of India, and had my schooling in the village school, and did my graduation in a College at the Sub-Division headquarters. On being selected for a Central Civil Services, I was sent to a small interior village in one of the backward Districts of South Karnataka for study of rural life.
The inhabitants there did not know any language other than Kannada and I knew no language other than English, local dialect in the North east and a smattering of Hindi.
On my first day there, I learnt the first word in Kannada – “Akki” (uncooked rice). When it was time for lunch, I told the local person accompanying me, to get me “Akki” for lunch. He could not catch me fully, and brought uncooked rice in a plastic cover. I did not know whether I was expected to eat uncooked rice! Only when I demonstrated to him that I wanted “Akki” for food, he told me that cooked rice is called “Anna”. Then, he brought cooked rice and sambhar for lunch. I had a hearty meal.
In this way, I picked up small sentences in Kannada, which made my short stay in the village fairly comfortable. By the time I had left the village, I could manage short conversations in Kannada. The villagers were also happy that I had a small beginning in becoming one of them instead being dubbed an ‘outsider’.
Note: Mr Pontu’s name is changed for the story.