11. Buy a Metro ticket in Kannada

How many languages are residents supposed to know? One local language okay?

I had decided to make a Kannada course for Courseloka, and was studying various language issues and the advantages of knowing Kannada in Bengaluru. I spoke to random people to get a sense of prevailing conditions.

I was out of touch with Kannada for many years and had taken to speaking in Hindi or English. I thought I would try to speak in Kannada and see what difference it made.

I initiated transactions in Kannada with vegetable vendors and shop keepers. They would talk back in Kannada effortlessly and transact efficiently.

Once, I asked for a ticket in the metro station in Kannada. “M.G. Road ge ondu ticket kodi”, i.e., “Give me a ticket to M.G. Road”. I had a friend along with me. She was surprised by the ticket giver’s reaction.

The ticket giver said “Neevu ashtu Kannada matadidre namma job ashtu easy agutte”. In English, he meant “When you speak even that much in Kannada, our job becomes that much easier.”

This gave me insight into the language challenge faced by service providers and employees of government departments who face customers speaking 6-10 languages in Bengaluru.

I thought, is it not easier, better and logical for everyone, especially the half million new Hindi speaking migrants, to know one local language, Kannada, instead of expecting 11 million residents to learn 6-10 languages?

Author: Rekha Chandulal

Last modified: Wednesday, 1 March 2017, 12:05 AM