September 21, 2006

time to learn kannada

you go to a beautiful theatre that is run by punctuality and anti cellphone nazis. which is as it should be. you watch chekhov's "seagull" in kannada.

you do this when you don't speak or understand kannada but fancy your interpretive skills.

you take your granma along. sitting in the front row, you ask her, "ki gal e?"
and then reply "seagulleh".
with aplomb, naturally. its the only way.

be that as it may.

a sinking feeling manifests itself, when the preplay announcement is completely unintelligible, apart from "cell phone switch off madi"

a hush falls. darkness, velvety. coughs and shifting in the seat.

the play begins.

it is a dialogue heavy play. everything is obscure. men and women stomp around, declaiming angrily. granma and i are stoic and silent when a witticism is made. we giggle helplessly when something looks funny. such as when stompers declaim angrily in kannada, ending with a "blah blah .. maadtini, YEVGENY ANDREVITCH!" or "hau da, petrushka?"


a girl wanders onto the stage carrying a stuffed toy that looks like a dead duck. that, presumably is the seagull. it flops about in her hands the way stuffed toy dead ducks are wont to do. she pats its head and sobs.

the eyes glaze over.

in the interval an usher speaks to us in kannada and is quite bemused that we don't understand.

drowning our incomprehension in bondas and sambar, we ignore the warning bells and the play resumes. we are not allowed inside. we flop about like the seagull.

without understanding what the play was about, i somehow managed to spend an appropriately chekhovian evening.

granma and i return to borsht, vassily ivanchuk and the wolves howling.


Anonymous said...

Hi is this Ira Athale from Gokhale Institute???
Chitra Menon

Insane Bavarian Despot said...

> granma and i return to borsht,
> vassily ivanchuk and the wolves
> howling.

Vassily I.? Really? You have ILO grandmasters stashed away at home for such nights? Where? Under couch? Behind door? Does he go 'boo' in the manner of Slavs when you go home? Actually he probably goes 'БФФ', does he not?

The possibilities...

Orcaella brevirostris said...

chitra!! how are ya?? there goes my secret identity. it is me, indeed. how are you? still in chenn.?

ins. bav. desp., he and i sing love songs to each other. "ILO ILO.. ILO ILO. ILO ka matlab.." we croon.

(please, no MATLAB/ Shazam /Eviews jokes)

Anonymous said...

Great! Am doing London now. Been here almost a year. How have you been? Chitra

Orcaella brevirostris said...

hey, wot you doin in london, gov?

Perspective Inc. said...


Orcaella brevirostris said...

thanks perspc. inc.!

Nandan said...

Hey nice one...faced similar problems during my stay in bengaluru, so silently came back to a place where i could understand the native tongue..mumbaiyya hindi bolneka, sab theek ho jaayenga.
BTW, have changed my blogging service, am now at remain on the blogroll, needless to say.

Orcaella brevirostris said...

nandan! mustnt leave bengaluru because of the odd chekhovian nightmare.

but i have decided that the next time a rickshaw driver snubs me (its not that they refuse to go, its that they look away, bored and disdainful) i'll ask "kaykoo?"

just that. "kaykoo?"

they will be appropriately flummoxed.

will waddle over to the new blog location anon.

Archana said...


Just chanced upon your blog. Must admit that you added to my vocab and knowledge what with words/names like
'Orcaella brevirostris', 'borsht',
'Vassily ivanchuk'!

Keep up the good writing!

Orcaella brevirostris said...

thanks archana. (bobs head in shy acknowledgment)

but please don't add to your vocab or knowledge from what you read on my blog! it's often factually and grammatically incorrect.

except the orcaella brevirostris bit. that's right, alright.

Shankari said...


tumba yenjoi maadtini!