Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Lingo love Or, how to learn Kannada on Sundays

Lingo love Or, how to learn Kannada on Sundays
The Hindu

IF YOU don't speak Kannada, you can sort of get by in our city. That is the tragedy of cosmopolitan Bangalore. However, surely you must have faced some sort of situation where you either managed to humiliate yourself using the wrong word, or worse, embarrassed others.

There are any number of Kannada classes for those determined to learn the beautiful language, and once such is run by B.V. Raghavan and Nataraj of Kannada Prasara Parishad. KPP, established in 1990, holds classes Sundays at the St. Euphrasius School, Albert Street, behind Brigade Towers, from 10 a.m. to 1p.m.

For sacrificing a lazy Sunday morning, there's a coffee break, with the refreshing beverage on the house. All this for a piffling Rs. 300. The students represent a mini India, building a camaraderie born out of gaffes and good-natured laughter. The rule is simple: everything has to be done in Kannada: talking, joking, laughing, fighting, even lying! The more adventurous amongst them appear for the Pravesha exams conducted by the Kannada Parishad. It is to KPP's credit that its students, who include bureaucrats and officials, frequently bag the top three ranks.

The beginning

It all started with Mr. Raghavan, a former government employee and a freelance Kannada translator, who would tour various places ever since the Department of Kannada and Culture deputed him to promote the language since1985. Seeing the response, he decided to start the KPP but not before scouting for like-minded people who pursued teaching as a hobby. The sheer love for Kannada and determination to teach it became his life's mission, says Mr. Raghavan.

He found a compatible comrade in Mr. Nataraj, a bank employee who dabbles in theatre, reviewing plays. He wrote the script of the 26-part teleserial, Kannada-Kannadi, which was well received. His easy affability brought into the classroom as a teacher also helped. He met Raghavan in the '80s and they hit it off.


Initially, the Sunday classes were held at St. Anne's School, Ulsoor. They divided the sessions into three, i.e., spoken language, learning by script and preparing the serious students for the first level exams (Pravesha). For the past 15 years, they have been preparing students in two batches every six months. Commitment levels are such that on one occasion, the Sunday classes were held in Malleswaram for only one student for six months.

With justifiable pride, the duo opines that in the last six years, the desire to speak Kannada in non-Kannadigas has spiralled interest levels. Nearly 2,000 students have benefited from the classes and twp students have completed M.A. in Kannada after retirement. An exclusive class for foreigners at Max Mueller Bhavan and Siemens was a hit. Moreover, Food World, Bangalore Club, and several IT companies have sought help from Mr. Raghavan and Mr. Nataraj.

The two plan to bringing out CDs and self-learning books with a repertoire of live examples from their hands-on experiences.

Their next course commences in January and those interested may contact 98456-80958.


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