How I got through the “Kannad Gottilla” situation at work….

I work in an organization where one director is from Bihar, another from Punjab and another is a Malayali from Kodagu (he knows to speak Hindi very well and as expected, he speaks Hindi most of the times).

Rest of the staff are either Hindi speaking or at least Bengalureans that know to speak Hindi. So “Kannad Gottilla” scene is an everyday thing at my workplace. This doesn’t mean that they are bad people or that they hate Kannada. Its just that it was never an inevitable situation for them to speak Kannada.

Oh, for the fact, I can speak Hindi too. Initially whenever I used to ask for little things like water or a pen or anything for that matter, I used to ask for it in Kannada. If they didn’t understand at all, in English and Hindi. Somehow, everybody found it sort of funny that I used to do that. Their point of view was why does someone have to try to explain something in three different languages when that can be done in just one, Hindi.

My point was, or “funda” as my coworkers would like to call that, its Bengaluru, the capital city of a State of which Kannada is the official language. Simple!
Not just Karnataka, this applies to all the places. If I am residing in a place for a long time, I will definitely make an effort to learn that regional language. So I expect the same from others.

I understood that my workpkace friends don’t speak Kannada because they never have felt the need to. So my only responsibility was to create that need and act like speaking Kannada well is a cool thing. Guess what? It actually proved to be a cool thing!

I started with teaching our non Kannadiga staff few basic words and basic numbers in Kannada. This really helped with our support staff. Today, when I talk to them in basic Kannada and actions to help them understand, they really make an effort to understand what I am saying. It was clearly visible.

But what do I do with the people who know Kannada but don’t speak? I started wearing Kannada tshirts to work because I somehow felt it might make a casual yet an impactful statement. The best one was, once I wore a t-shirt that read “ganchali bidi kannada mathadi” to work and their reactions were worth seeing (yes, I actually enjoyed doing that). For all the laughter I got for not speaking Hindi, this one was totally worth it.

After repeated attempts like these for more than six months, today, they really make an attempt to speak atleast to me in Kannada. It was a really small victory but gave me the spirit to persuade more people.

What I learnt from this is, firstly, as much as we complain that people around us don’t speak Kannada, it also is our responsibility to create that need and urge. Secondly, whenever a non Kannadiga makes an attempt to learn our language,  appreciate them for their willingness and try the best to not laugh at them. They are definitely upto something good!

In the process of trying to teach something to others, I actually ended up believing that its a cool thing to know to speak Kannada and great to have love for a language. I enjoy the “Kannada Premi” attention thoroughly.

With a really long way to go yet, I can proudly say that I have become less of just a complaining person and more of person who actually tries to do something about the situation and every bit of this journey has been totally worth it.

– Deepthi S Prakash

About Deepthi: Having Masters degree in Fashion Designing, Deepthi is a part time lecturer teaching Textiles, is also a Bharthanatyam Dancer. She Learns and teaches Bharathanatyam too.