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Long before I was stuck with trying to translate “Shower (the bathing apparatus)” into Kannada and during the while I’ve learnt to make bigger mistakes in Spanish, there has been a debate going on about using Kannada as the medium of education in schools here. There’s nothing more I can write for the argument that UR Ananthamurthy hasn’t already said and there’s nothing more I can write against it that multitudes of parents and teachers feel.
Before I run into the devastating realm of faux-intellectual blogging, I’ll take a right at this signal and speed straight past errant autos and stop myself 20 metres away from the bus-stop. Given that on an average about twenty people run this 20 metres to barge into a bus at all self-respecting bus-stops at all egotistical rush-hours, they’d be made of 5 Bihari carpenters, 4 Delhi software engineers, 5 Tamil masons, 2 Kannadiga college-goers, 2 wannabe-real estate honchos from Andhra and a few random wildcard entries. 22
Unless they’ve been living in Bangalore for more than 2 years, the Bihari carpenters will always get their stop wrong. Even when they are beginning to get it right, their friends amongst the Tamil masonry group would play pranks on them “Dei machchan, yeh stop nagee, nextu stoppu da”.
The 4 Delhi software engineers will always take the four seats that face each other. You might also see a big bubble around that area, inside which aloo parathas are soaked in a viscosity only desi ghee can conjure, random characters like “%*#$*” glide with a massive 2px red border next to words like “Bangalore”, “Makaan maalik”, “bus conductor” etc. You would also see girls from in and around the bus dancing to a remixed version of beedi jalaile slowly dissolve into a ghunghat-clad, crescent-watching symbol of homeliness when words like mamma and pappa start floating.
This bubble bursts when the conductor shatters it with his call for tickets.
“Nimdhu?”, says the conductor with the same look a machete would give to a goat’s neck.
“Baanshankree chaar ticket”, in a tone completely different from that which calls young kids “aap”.
“Yenu?”, he says with a tone suggesting incredulity, but with eyes clearly meaning “Let the games begin”.
What follows is rounds of talks where one party forms the bubble and the other breaks it. After a span of, say, 10 minutes, the bus is still there at the same signal, but the conductor makes sure that the guys from Delhi have got their syllable-stress right.
All this while, the Tamil masons have had the best of times. They always smell of yesterday’s liquor and they take the conductor’s side in a language-war like this. They will also make sure that he takes their word for it when they say, “paas idhe”. Almost always, one of the five will not have a pass or a ticket. They also hog the rear seats of the bus and place themselves strategically to spit out from the window, preferably when the bus is in motion. To be fair, they aren’t the only ones who do it.
Anyway, the Tamilians will play their favourite songs on their mobile, loudly, for us all to hear. I was acquainted with such music genre during a long, trans-lingual travel in a Tata Sumo when the Tamil driver would play these incredible, tune-less, torture-centric songs so that he’d stay awake. Dunno if it worked on him as he veered onto the other side of traffic a few times, but it did on the rest of us.
That someone can break this sound barrier would, I am sure, be unthinkable. But you only have to look two seats ahead as the real-estate wannabes go ballistic on their mobiles. Remember, always. With them on one seat, you only have about a quarter of the rest of the seat for yourself. Quite often, you’ll be deafened by their talking, dumb-founded by their personality, blinded by their glittering jewellery and temporarily injured by the stampede on the aisle as you’re more or less sitting where you’re expected to be standing.
The funnest guys are the Kannadiga college-goers. They are the most creative of the lot as almost always, they add to the language. These days, “Huchchu kattodhu” is to fool around and “hoge haakskolodhu” is to land in big trouble. They discuss mobiles, bikes and girls. If one of the two is actually a girl, they’d discuss movies or zodiac signs.
Hang on, I haven’t talked about the old-timers here. The men who still use words like “shishtu” and “sabhyathe”. Well, maybe another time. Baba Ramdev is on telly, about to suggest ways to stop hair-fall. Awesomesque!

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