Vani’s Musings

Archive for March 2007

This morning, on a radio channel, I heard a popular proverb, which set me off thinking about the origin of proverbs in language.

 Wiki says “A proverb is a short, generally known sentence of the folk, which contains wisdom, truth, morals, and traditional views in a metaphorical, fixed and memorizable form and which is handed down from generation to generation.” 

In Layman’s terms, it simply is a familiar phrase of a region, which is abundant with meaning and common sense; often an example of some old story or epic is used to depict the phrase for understanding.  Some proverbs are witty, others are scathing. Their purpose remains the same, issuing a warning of sorts to a wayward life. Here are some rare Kannada Proverbs and their meanings. Readers, feel free to add more.

  • ajjige arive chinte, magaLige Maduve chinte
    • Grandma is worried about a piece of cloth to wear; the daughter is worried about marriage
    • This is said of irresponsible youngsters who expect a lot from parents who struggle to make ends meet.

  • ambali kuDiyuvavanige mIse tikkuvanobba
    • (For one who drinks swill there is one to trim his moustache)
    • This is said of people who live beyond their means.

  • bhangi dEvarige henDaguDuka pUjari
    • For the God who is on dope you need a priest who is a drunk.
    • The underlings are usually quite a match for the rogues in power whom they serve.

  • chELige pArupathya koTTa hAge
    • It is like giving authority to a scorpion.
    • If the mean people get into positions of authority they cause a great damage like a scorpion, which needs no reason to sting, would work overtime if asked to do so.

  •  dharmakke daTTi koTTare hittalige hOgi moLa hAkidaru.
    • When a cloth is given for charity it was measured in the backyard
    • Similar to looking a gift horse in the mouth.

  • geddettina bAla hiDida hAge
    • It is like holding the tail of the winning ox.
    • i.e. Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

  • gubbi mEle bramhAstravE? 

  •  A Brahmastra on a sparrow?

  • This is said of actions beyond proportion taken on helpless people.

  • hettorige hegNa muddu, kattikondavarige kOdaga muddu

  • A bandicoot is lovely to his parents; a mule is pretty to its mate.
    • This is a wacky statement of the somber truth: Love is blind.

  • Hosa vaidyanigintha haLe rOgine mElu

  • An old patient is better than a new doctor.
  • This stems from a suspicion of inexperienced and untested people with education vis a vis wise, familiar and old fellows of dubious qualifications.

  • hosataralli agasa gONi etti etti ogeda
    • When he was new, the washerman beat the jute bag repeatedly.
    • People who are new on the job work eagerly and enthusiastically until they find their way and slack off.Clothes were washed in villages by Dhobis who took them to a lake, soaked them and bet the hell out of them on a rock to rid of the dirt. The amount of beating was inversely proportional to the value of the cloth. A jute bag hardly deserved attention except by one who was new to the job.

  • hoTTege hiTTilladiddarU juTTige mallige hUvu
    • There is no food to eat but there is jasmine in the crown.
    • Wearing jasmine in the hair is considered elegant for women, especially on their way to a temple or a wedding party. Dressing beyond one’s means is frowned upon as a sign of false pride.

  • HUvina jote nAru svarga sErithu.

The string used to tie the flowers also reached heaven.

Those who are in the company of the noble will reap the benefits by association.



 Ramaya Ramabhadraya

Ramachandraya Vedhase

Raghunathaya nathaya

Sitayah pataye namah

Sri Rama Navami is being celebrated all over the country today.

Rama is the epitome of how a human being should lead his life.

“Ramayana” means Ways of Rama.

This Tulasidas Bhajan describes Lord Rama’s antics perfectly as a child.


Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

Kilaki kilaki uthat dhaay girat bhuumi latapataay
Dhaay maat god let dasharath kii raniyaan

humak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

Aanchal raj ang jhaari vividh bhaanti so dulaari
Tan man dhan vaari vaari kahat mridu bachaniyaan

Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

Vidrum se arun adhar bolat mukh madhur madhur
Subhag naasikaa men chaaru latakat latakaniyaan

Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan
Tulasiidaas ati anand dekh ke mukhaaravind
Raghuvar chhabi ke samaan raghuvar chhabi baniyaan
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Thumak chalat raamachandra
Baajat painjaniyaan

The Meaning of the Bhajan in English

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

Laughing joyously he stumbles around on the ground
He is fondly picked into the laps of King Dasharatha’s queens

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

They cover him with their saris, dusting the dirt off and caressing his bruises
They offer loving and reassuring words of devotion to make him feel better

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

Baby Ram’s ruby red lips speak sweet melodious words
Ornaments decorate his nose and waist

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

Poet Tulsidas is thrilled at the face of Ram, which has the glory of the Sun
Baby Ram is exactly what he had imagined him to be

Baby Ram walks, swaying unsteadily
 His anklets ring in tune with his steps

My friend Bru and I were recently discussing the names of some localities in Bangalore. While we could fathom the “HaLLis” and “Nagaras”, it struck us odd that several localities in Bangalore were suffixed by the phrase “Sandra”. 

We know that “Sandra” in Kannada is an altered form of “Samudra” meaning sea, it could be roughly translated here as a water body. As such, we were able to make out that Bangalore was not only a Garden City once, but also a lake city. Here are some of the “Sandras” We came across on this list. 

  • Bhoopasandra
  • Neelasandra
  • Jakkasandra
  • Devasandra
  • Thanisandra
  • Kavalbyrasandra
  • Doddabommasandra
  • Bommasandra
  • Nagasandra
  • Singasandra
  • Lakkasandra
  • Dodd Kall Sandra
  • Chikk Kall Sandra
  • Dyavasandra
  • Thippasandra

 Other than this, we also came across localities, which were named “Kere” meaning lakes in Bangalore. 

  • Mathikere
  • Challakere
  • Thavarekere
  • Arakere
  • Chennamanakere

  Ironic that a city with so many lakes is bone-dry and crying for water today. 

 I have deliberately omitted the names of lakes still existing in Bangalore lest some enthusiastic and enterprising bright headed city planner  or property developer decides to drain them and convert them to land for more houses and commercial properties.


As soon as mama was back from office, the household would get divided into two groups. My cousins and I forming one, and all the elders, the other. We would walk together to the center of the town to the only decent restaurant (if it could be called that!) and disperse after snacks. The elders either took a Cycle rickshaw home or walked back slowly, to begin the evening cooking. Since Fridge was a luxury seen only in the homes of the very senior officials, perishable articles like dairy products and vegetables had to purchased and consumed fresh.

 Most evenings were spent strolling in the town. We used to walk or take the cycle rickshaw, which went “Chink-Chak” because of some bell or something the pullers attached to the wheel. I loved these rickshaws; they were a novelty to me, something I missed in Bangalore.

 Our usual haunts would be the hanuman temple at the fag end of town or the lone theater that screened English films. If we went to watch a movie, that would take a couple of hours, otherwise we would play hide and seek in the temple and usually one of the servants came in search of us and herded us back home.

 Almost three-fourths of all the days we stayed there were spent this way. In the remaining few, we would squeeze a trip to the nearby pilgrimage points.

 Those journeys again were by Tonga or Tractor or Lorry. If the place we wanted to visit was far, we took a train there too.

 Well, to write about those journeys would be a story by itself, and I would not like to bore you, dear readers into reading them.

 The return trip would be with our hands full of bonda-bajjis and Kadlekai which we munched as we walked, listening to the servant tell us stories of which I hardly understood a handful of words. Most of these stories were about people who turned into ghosts after committing suicide on the railway tracks.

 It was then time to listen to “Vaarthalu” on the radio, comprehend a few Telugu words, guided by an impromptu Telugu lesson by mama, have dinner in the backyard in the breezy moonlight and then spread out the mats and go to sleep. No one ever used mattresses or cots in that town because of the heat.

 The neighbor aunties  “Ramaa Atha” and “Aruna Atha” (Ramaa aunty and Aruna Aunty) were very kind to me and often prepared delicacies for me.

 Since Guntakal is a major junction on South Central Railway, we got to see people from different parts of India.

 Most of the festivals were celebrated commonly; all the railway employees celebrated festivals

 The Navaratri festival organized by the Gujarati and Bengali Associations was a huge crowd puller every year.

 Christmas was also a huge hit, with the lone chapel being decked up for the occasion.  The Railway Station and the Loco Shed were close by, and so the lat thing we heard at night and the first thing we heard in the morning, rather something that acted as an alarm was the hooting of the Steam Locomotives.

 My mom tells me that the first ever time she took me to Guntakal after I was born, maybe at the age of 11 months, I was terrified of the hooting, and wailed continuously, did not allow her to stay even for a day. She had to bring me back by the next train.

 Subsequently she was quite surprised by my reluctance to get back to Bangalore after spending time there.


Mama retired from service in 1993. Since then I have never visited Guntakal, do not know how it looks today. I’d prefer not to see it now, lest development has brought about an unwelcome change in the town and the people’s attitude. I prefer to remember those sweet people and the ambience I so loved.

Wish I could take my children to some such place where they could enjoy their childhood as much as I did.

Summer is here in full spirit…summer brings with it fond memories of vacations when I was in school.

 Summer meant ice creams, juices, Watermelons, cucumber slices and not to forget, exams. My school had a policy of completing the examinations of the Lower Classes well before the Board Exams. Because of this, we were free by the second week of March.

 Summer also meant a trip to a small town Guntakal, in Andhra Pradesh, where my mama was posted, during his career with the Railways. I remember this place very well, because he completed a major part of his service in this little town.

 I used to wait for the vacation to begin, so that mom would pack our bags and we would hop on to the next available train and rush to this town. Mama would be informed by phone, and for this people had to go to the Railway Station to give him a call. This telephone was a special phone meant to speak to Railway employees, and so was situated in the Railway Station alone and nowhere else.

 Guntakal is a short distance from Bangalore, around 4 hours by train. I waited for this journey, because there was a train that left Bangalore at 7.00 AM and reached Guntakal around 12.30 PM, just in time for lunch. It gave me ample time to enjoy the train journey and to reach home and relax before it got too hot in the afternoon.

 Being a Government Employee, Mama was privileged to have a couple of efficient menservants. One of them would be waiting to receive Ajji, Mom and me in the station and we would walk the small distance to the Railway Quarters and settle down in the quarter.

 I loved the way the Quarters was constructed, with a slope roof covered with tiles, lots of windows and ample natural light. The flooring was simply too good, the floor always felt cool and it was a pleasure to simply wallow on the floor. Most of them were structures of the British Era, and new additions also followed the same architecture.

 Readers would know that Andhra Pradesh is famous for two things, the Andhraite’s love for spicy food, and the oppressive heat.

 In spite of the temperature outside the house being 40 Degrees and above, the houses would remain cool throughout the day and fans were seldom used. This is because of the wonderful trees surrounding every house. Each house had a couple of neem trees and mango trees. The employees occupying the quarter were free to add their own plants and I remember my aunt growing Drumsticks, Ridge Gourd, Pumpkins, Jasmine and a variety of roses in the garden.

Mornings were meant for indoor activities. The day would get hotter as time elapsed and so cooking would be complete before it was 10.00 AM. It was time for friends. I did not know Telugu, and my friends did not understand or speak much English. But we managed with sign language, and the morning was spent in playing games like Chowka-Baara, AlaguLi Mane etc. The neighbors came visiting at this time and the elders enjoyed a couple of hours of gossip before the men-folk came home for lunch.

 Then the siesta, and after that it was time to deck up and roam around the town.

 To be Continued…….

Bhojyeshu Maatha 

Karaneshu Manthri 

Kaaryeshu Daasi 

Roopena Lakshmi 

Kshamaya Dharithri


Saluting the Many facets of womanhood. Thanks for all the wishes from fellow bloggers. Wish every woman a very happy Woman’s Day.

By Usha B R

River Arkavathi’s Banks containing white sand would be smeared with guLal and other colors…. …. Yes it was Holi, a holy day and a holiday for my school too.

Holi is a weeklong festival in our hometown. I really do not know how holi became such a grand festival celebrated in our small town. I am talking about the celebrations existed about 20 years back It is still fresh in my mind.

In January as soon as Sankranthi and YeLLu Bella distributions were through, natives of the town would start collecting the firewood and other wood articles and hide in their backyards. Does it sound funny? Yes, I am sure it does, but they had to do so to safeguard their articles…. As Holi was near…

Holi called as Kamana Habba in Karnataka, also called as HoLiya huNNime in some places. I am reminded of a very famous song sung by P KaLinga Rao:
“HoLiya huNNime bandhidhe..idhu bannada kaNNanu tandidhe… JeekuLi OkuLi bandidhe… idhu gokulada savinenapu tandidhe”.

Kamana habba would be celebrated in two phases .A gang of children and teens that are called Kamannana MakkaLu…KamaNNa’s children, would team up a week or fortnight earlier to study the town’s backyards and storage places of the houses where they would get abundant firewood. By the way this gang used to be headed by the enterprising and smart teenager and who would have entire data of the town and this team always used to work secretly and nobody knew how they would collect info.

Their khoofia operations would then attack the collections …. Be it clothes left in the back yard or the firewood .. they used to shout slogans (Kamannana MakkaLu…kaLLa soole MakkaLu.. enenu kaddaru.. soudhe samanu kaddaru… yellindha kaddaru… they would name the house where they flicked it from ) go on a procession after they flicked the articles from each house and deposit them in the place allocated for the fireworks.

All the girls would compete with each other for writing rangoli intrinsic geometric designs of India used for decorations in the front yard of the house or festivities. Rangoli would be drawn at the location after cleaning up the whole place… I used to be amazed with the amount of co-operation everyone shows at this time to decorate the place. These preparations would begin from late afternoon and thee fireworks location would be ready by evening.

Then the procession of boys disguised as “KamaNNa” and his wife “Rathi” would begin asking for help from each house and inviting them to participate for the events … Here my pen fails to express the kind of creativity of humor those boys used to display while talking to people of each house.

I remember one year, the “KamaNNa” and his wife “Rathi” set of in a scooter to meet everyone.. it was hilarious his story that year. He had married her recently , his father in law had gifted him a scooter as dowry. She had since become very demanding and that he is fed up with her torture and that all have to help him to get rid of her and get him a new wife whom he’s already selected.

At this, KamaNNa’s wife “Rathi” started crying and pleading all women to help her save her marriage and if he betrayed her she would ask Shiva to burn him 🙂 etc.

Disguises used to be marvelous and it used to be like a suspense thriller to guess the “Rathi”.

By night all would come back to the location of fireworks, KamaNNa’s pyre would be ready by then. After pooja performed by the priest “KamaNNa” and “his wife” Rathi” would go round the pyre and also chase each other, then the priest would go to rescue them.

They would end up trying to push the priest into the fire 🙂 and he would run for his life.

After these funny incidents, the priest would perform aarathi and once the priest was carried after mangaLarthi before lighting the pyre by one of the boy.

It was fun.

Once the pyre was lit, everyone clapped, danced and went round the fire and later the charpu was distributed. All of the youngsters that day would get to stay up late in the night near the fireworks ,we would continue fun watching hilarious performances and exchange instances which were amazing that day.

Next day, buckets would be filled with water and color ready in each house and kept in the front yard and the gang of Kamannana MakkaLu use to set out in the morning to play in colors and each house were supposed to participate.

Everyone splashed colors, water and dance the whole day in this town and this period the newly weds of the town would be the main targets and the butt of practical jokes; and that house had to supply Juice and fresh eatables to the gang as treat. By the late afternoon all used to assemble near Arkavathi’s banks to wash of their colors and return home …to get ready for the evening celebrations.

The Shetty angadi situated in the corner of our town Main Road –M G Road would have got emptied 2 days and completely clean and ready for arrangements of KamaNNana and other gods. Children of the town would decorate the dolls each day on various mythology topics and everyday upto 7 days the pooja rituals would go on along with the colorful programs.

Truly KaNNige habba, the KamaNNana habba was, and all of us used to eagerly wait for the next year… soon to arrive…. yes yes for “HOLI”