... eyes of the Beholder ... ears of the Listener

Song for the mood: Yeh hain Mumbai meri jaan - Mohammed Rafi Saahab

Yesterday evening I witnessed an interesting conversation between two people on a bus while on the way back from work. The 'guy who was doing most of the talking' was sitting next to me and was chatting away with the 'guy who was doing most of the listening' who was in the seat just in front (he was looking back ... now read on).

For the most part, I could not understand what they were talking about, because they were talking in Kannada. I can't make sense of more than 10-15 words of Kannada; my vocabulary is limited to oota, maadi, yenoo, beku, beda, illa, yeshtu, channagideya and some simple questions like yenoo helaitidiya? and yenoo madtaidiya? alongwith some counting: wundu, yerdu, mooru STOP. Whew! I need some water now ...

Anyways, so the conversation the way I understood it was a comparison between Bengalooru and other prime cities of India, moreover the references to Mumbai were dominant ... "Mumbai blah blah samudra beda" and "local train beda" (beda means I don't want ... wonder who gifted him the sea). In the very little that I could garner or grasp from his talk was that Bangalore ... sorry, Bengalooru has people from so many different linguistic backgrounds like Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil apart from Kannadigas and people here speak English also. Meanwhile, Mumbai has people who speak Marathi and Hindi only and English is a rarity. Marathi yenoo helaitidiya? Numbers simple ... ek, do, teen, char (these are in Hindi mister, and not Marathi)... three-hundred illa (illa means nothing) ... I guess he was saying that he doesn't know how to say three-hundred in Marathi and not that Marathi doesn't have a word for the number three-hundred :-). Yes, and there was an interesting comment Idli beda, Bengalooru best ... Mumbai idli bad ...

The comparisons continued ... Mumbai yeshtu sweat (yeshtu means how much... I think). He also ... ahem ... mentioned more stuff, words which I will refrain from using here forget elaborating. A sore point, since he sounded angry at it, was about the police in Mumbai ... his hand actions when he spoke about them suggested the following: catch by collar -> handcuff -> kick -> beat with danda -> throw in jail -> lock and then ... beat.

Well, one thing is clear, the person is very happy to be in his own home-town which is good for him. His views about other cities ... well, he would've probably seen a small part of Mumbai city whenever he was there and judging by all that he said, he found traveling, communicating and eating to be a problem ... which is the case with any one going to a new city. I doubt he went anywhere outside Kurla (a place in Mumbai, and something he constantly mentioned when speaking) and hence his ideas about Mumbai are pertaining to that place alone.
Any Mumbaikar will tell you that these views are lopsided, but the fact remains that to a newcomer who probably got beaten up or witnessed someone getting beaten up by the Mumbai Police, all this would've caused little comfort :-P

Not too different is what happened to me when I came to Bangalore nearly 18 months ago ... food, language and travel were a pain. But thankfully for me, I was and am still living in a comfortable hostel with like minded students around me many of them from Bangalore, courteous enough to give short guided tours of the city along with adding 10-15 Kannada words to my vocabulary (hee hee!). The guy on the bus probably had not such a great experience ... and I never go beaten up by the Police.

Everything around us can be understood in so many ways at so many different levels ... it depends on what level of understanding prevails in the end. I can say with great confidence that his views on Mumbai idli would've changed had he eaten in some Udipi restaurants of Churchgate or for that matter tasted a wada-paav ... but that was beyond the experience that he had. Just for the record, in Mumbai you get superb South-Indian food, again, looking at it the way I look at it.

The title ... in its completion is ... Observing lies in the eyes of the Beholder and Understanding lies in the ears of the listener. Given my limited understanding of Kannada, who knows, maybe I interpreted whatever he was saying in the not so correct way ... or did I?