We are proud of our diverse society, something that is in or DNA.  While it is cool to be a multicultural society, it takes a lot to be there and be nice especially with all the under currents of dissatisfaction that lurk around us.

Yesterday a few guys from the North East were beaten up by some local boys in Bangalore for not speaking Kannada. The English media was quick to condemn the attacks and indeed they are right in doing so. There is of course no role for violence of any kind in a civil society. We Kannadigas despite the highest number of Jnanapeetha and rich cultural heritage we never encouraged militant language fanatic groups. Violence is just not us. We take pride in our tolerance, sophistication, in our accepting and accommodating different groups. No wonder Bangalore is as cosmopolitan as it could get.   But the story does not end there. The last decade or so things have changed. The under currents of dis-satisfaction has become more and more apparent. Incidents like the ones mentioned below started to occur quite frequently.

One morning I was to ride a BMTC bus, I do not remember where I was going, but as I walked to the bus stop the bus started moving, I ran after the bus. The bus stopped suddenly, perhaps bus driver had noticed me. I boarded the bus and thanked the driver in Kannada and found myself sitting in the first row. After the next couple of stops the same scene repeated, a very well dressed girl ran towards the slow moving bus saying 'roko, roko' (stop in Hindi). The bus driver suddenly accelerated and the girl was not able to board the bus. I later heard the conductor and the drive have a conversation about how the girl spoke in Hindi. 'Bari Stylu' I heard him say as if, 'Oh! you think you are cool speaking Hindi? we do not think so. So wait for the next bus'.

Then once on one of my early sojourns into the northern plains on the great Karnataka Express, I found myself in the amusing company of a bunch of North Indians. I was the only women in the cubicle and the rest of the five were all north Indian men of various ages. After a polite introduction I found myself defending Kannadigas and south-Indians in general. They started ridiculing everything that we valued, right from making fun of Idli and Dose, how Kannada sounded like a can half filled with pebbles, how Kannada movie heros are dark skinned, old and ugly and how heroines were very fat etc. Being the younger me, I let my blood boil. It did not help that I was heading back to university at the end of my vacations. I defended everything they said wildly. I probably would not do it today because it was just a bunch of loosers bully a young girl whom they found alone in their cubicle. What really riled me was their attitude. I knew all of them worked in Bangalore. All of it stopped when I told them that I pity their situation. How horrible it must be back home for them that they should be coming to a problem filled Karnataka to make a livelihood.

These two were not isolated incidents, it eventually became a pattern coming across more and more often..Some how there was an air of elitism when it came to Hindi and everything North-Indian. How Delhi had huge fly overs and Bangalore had none.Why could not people after having lived in Karnataka for years show some respect towards the land? Learning Kannada would be the best tribute to the land. Agreed it is hard, but there are people who make an effort and their broken Kannada is appreciated.

The unwillingness to learn Kannada is viewed as a pseudo-elite rebuke to the locals and that is the reason why the guys were trashed the other day. It did not help that they look different too.

When I read about racism, intolerance and all that written about incidents like these, I squirm. Yes there is intolerance, but why did this intolerance begin in the first place. No one seems to ask that question and definitely not the English media. Disrespecting your host is never a good idea, is it ?

Now for the Kalakand. Like the good Mysore pak, this mildly sweet, moist and milky goodie is a rarity. Cheaper imitations are found in plenty, the ones the smell like stale Khoa, the ones that are dry and crumbly. But the ones that moist, with just the right amount of sweetness is so hard to come by.  I made these during Navratri and they were very well received.

We will need,

Ricotta cheese  15 oz can
Condensed milk 7 oz (half a tin)
Cardamon 2 (seeds grounds and  the skin discarded)
Kesar a pinch
Milk 1 tbsp
Pista for garnish
Ghee a tsp

  • Pop the ricotta into the freezer for several hours and thaw it for a few hours on the counter top. (I do this to separate the milk solids from the whey)  
  • Line a sieve with a cheese cloth and dump the ricotta into  the sieve. Discard the whey and save the milk solids.
  • Warm the milk , stir in the saffron and set it aside. Grease a tray with ghee and set it aside.
  • Once the ricotta is drained well, combine it with the condensed milk  in a microwave proof bowl. 
  • Pop it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes on high. Remove and stir well, add the cardamon, saffron mixture and microwave it on high again for 2 minutes. Repeat this every minute or so keeping a close watch on the mixture, till it gets bubbly and leaves the side of the container.  It took me a total of 8 minutes. But the duration can change depending on the quantity, the moisture in the ricotta and also the power of the microwave oven.
  • Dump the mixture into the greased tray. Even out the mixture and sprinkle grated Pista on top. Refrigerate for two hours, remove and cut it into pieces

Quick Carrot Halwa

Wishing you all a happy Ayudha Pooja. Also spending a minute here to remember Gandhiji and Sastriji on their birth anniversaries as well.

It is poignant that the Prime Minister should be kicking off the Swacchata Andolan today. Cleanliness is all about attitude, much less about resources. During my younger days, in one of the several towns we lived , I had noticed something. It was summer and there was no piped water back then in the town. We all had to collect water from street side taps and store it so it lasts for 3-4 days. About half a kilometer from where we lived was the area where the 'Vadda's a Dalit subgroup lived. We used to pass the 'Vaddara Hatti' as the area was called sometimes. They did not have street side taps, probably they got all the water from one of the wells in the area. Their houses were small compared to our own but their yard relatively big and very well maintained. The yards would be plastered using cow dung  which was a common practice back then to keep away the wild dusty earth a little more tame. Also part of the year were beautiful Rangolis which were drawn when the cow dung plastering was  moist so that the Rangolies lasted a little longer. Such yards were extensions of the tiny houses. Women sat in the yards doing various chores, kids played around, they also combed their hair, did a lot of routine activities in the yard.  The point is that particular area was much cleaner than our own area where the houses were bigger. It was about attitude and need than resources. How do change attitude is the question.

For now it is a quick Carrot halwa. I made this as an offering on one of these days. It was quick for a week day and much lighter than the regular fare. So here it is.

We will need,

Carrots grated 2 cups
Condensed milk 1/4 cup
Ghee 2-3 tbsp
Almonds  4-5 chopped
Raisins a handful

  • Heat ghee in a skillet. Throw in the almonds and the raisins. once they are golden brown remove them one to a plate using slotted spoon. 
  • Throw in the carrots and saute till the moisture is gone and the carrots are fragrant about 8-10 minutes.
  • Pour in the condensed milk stir and cook till the carrots are soft. 
  • Fold in the almonds and raisins. Serve at room warm or at room temperature or chilled.