ICF: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
coffee_rules: Born in Bangalore, grew up all over Karnataka, thanks to my dad's bank job. He only opted for within Karnataka to stay close to his family. Maternal grandpa was an Urdu/Hindi/Sanskrit teacher in a government school. Was a big influence on my upbringing. Paternal grandfather had died before I was born. He had worked for Imperial Bank of India (prior to SBI), in 1947-48 he was deputed to Lahore to work on the separation of bank activities between India and Pakistan (he was a clerk, but was paid a lot to go to Lahore in those days). I was born right in the middle of Emergency. Thanks to Indira Gandhi, our family was always anti-Congress, except for one aunt who was a fan of IG!!!
My first dream profession was a goods/freight train guard because he gets his own little compartment and has the power to move/stop the train. Second of course, was the steam engine driver. Was so impressed with Dharmendra hijacking the engine in Sholay, especially the whistle is so invigorating.
I was an above-average student, got a scholarship from the State as I was within the first 50 ranks in SSLC (Karnataka state board 10th exams). Studied in Kannada medium till 8th. I have studied only in convents, St. Joseph's is big in Karnataka. Grew up listening to gospels from Fathers and Brothers of the convent. Kannada, Hindi and Social Studies were my favorite subjects in school. Hindi was the third language and was not counted in the final grade. But my mom made sure I take Hindi public exams - Prathama, Madhyama and Trithiya which were encouraged by the government as well as Hindi teachers in schools. This has been a tradition in Karnataka, my mom also had taken these in her schooling days. She also put me in Sanskrit classes at the local temple, which I used to bunk to play gully cricket. Till now I regret it sometimes. But watching cricket and enjoying the game was from that root level engagement as well.
I wanted to pursue a degree in the social sciences field, but being from a STEM family my brother and sister pushed me to do Engineering (132 rank in CET for the state). Very few in my extended family go for civil services. They choose either private sector or public sector jobs in HAL, ITI, DRDO etc. Wanting to be rooted to Karnataka, I didn't take up JEE/BITS/NIT and wanted to study in Karnataka, not that I would have cleared it anyway. I had seen some seniors in PUCII (Pre-University Course, 12th standard) burn out preparing for JEE and not even making it in State CETs, so I chickened out. I regret not studying outside of Karnataka. BITS Pilani would have been favorite destination for education.
Cricket was my passion: playing, watching, talking about, analyzing, reminiscing and even playing book cricket. I grew up in the 80s following cricket passionately. During boring classes, we used sit in the last bench and turn the text books to score 2,4,6, 1(8), and 0 was out. We have played WC sitting in those classes. Gully cricket is the ultimate sport.
After Engg. (in Electronics & Communication), I got selected for the biggest bodyshop company of India (Tata Consultancy Services) and never looked back to pursue any further academic degree. From E&C background, worked for C-DOT in India initially (through TCS) and have worked in telecom technology - wireline and then wireless, from 2G all the way till 5G in all roles. I quit the communication technology sector and have moved to cybersecurity and defence applications.
I am very active politically. I volunteer for an Indic Academy and a lot of Dharmic NGOs in India.
ICF: When did you move overseas and where do you currently stay?
coffee_rules: Late 90s, when the H1B boom took place, I didn't have any great dream of emigrating to USA, but wanted to get out mainly for experience. It was for a trial period of two years. I came to US as a bachelor, got married and got caught in the two year NRI immigrant syndrome (google it). It is a vicious circle, where procrastination and laziness rule the roost, and inertia plays a big part. Parents visit and the cycle is reset with every major life event, like kids born, graduation, kids milestones, etc.
As @maniac explained better, it starts with a dabble of 'let's try to live elsewhere for an experience'. I had worked in Nortel Canada initially and liked the cold country. So, when H1Bs were a trend, joined the bandwagon. With the technology sector experience valued better here, you wonder how you will be appreciated in India professionally which is a vicious naive thought. It's all the same everywhere, now that I have experienced both. Businesses worry about their own interests, you have to worry about yours.
Life happens where events take precedence over what you want, what wife wants and now what the kids want. So dabbling between USA and India, I am currently in New Jersey looking east and dreaming of a retired life maybe 20 years from now in India.
ICF: How was the transition and adjustment when you moved back to India briefly? Tell us about your experiences during that phase.
coffee_rules: We always had it in the back of our minds, but back in 2008 when kids were younger I had a serious thought about moving, started looking for opportunities. So in between vacations in Europe, Mexico, yearly visits to India, we saw some friends who walked the talk and moved back in 2014.
So in 2015, we implemented our plan, I got an internal transfer through my company and wife quit her job. Kids were not thrilled, I knew it would be difficult for them but thought and hoped that it would all work out. I liked it thoroughly, because I lived there for first 25 years, friends had moved on, relatives/cousins were older. But life is the same. People are the same, food, travel, live cricket in stadiums, one IPL match I went to, it was amazing.
Professionally it was good too. I was given a senior role as is the norm in India and made to feel very important. Client meetings, visits to USA to talk to clients, etc. It was too hectic as I worked mostly in USA time living in India.
My kids couldn't get into good schools in India. I had to put them in IGCSE type schools which is a major scam. Some Cambridge affiliations etc., they were charging a lot and the returns were bad. They were getting better education in USA. In India, the teachers are homegrown. How will school affiliation to UK/Singapore teaching systems and a few trainings make the teachers better? It looked like the kids were using that as an excuse, they were not doing well academically. Since we thought spending so much for primary education was still getting them nowhere and when we look for their higher education, they might settle for undergrad in USA again. So it looked like a better option to move back. Maybe if I had moved to India a few years earlier, I would have made it stick.
ICF: How have you adjusted to life in USA? How tough is it to raise kids there?
coffee_rules: It is relatively easier here if you don't have kids' issues. If they grow up to be typical kids, it is easier. I know a few friends who have had some problems with kids' growth, development, autism, ADHD etc. USA education system is very quick in attaching tags to the kids, giving mental health options and even mind affecting drugs by the school system. I know where the school district has enforced ADHD drugs because teachers couldn't control kids, but they want the drugs to pacify the kids. So to each person, the experience is different. But in general it is easier here to raise kids. They will have an all round growth - learning, activities, music, etc.
For me, I am not too ambitious professionally, I want to achieve something at the end of the day and keep time for myself - activities, reading, hiking etc. But I have always looked to go back, maybe retire later in life, back in India. I will never be happy here compared to India. Like that song in Kabuliwala (Balraj Sahni) - eternally nostalgic and yearning to go back.
ICF: Do you regularly visit India? What are the things you like/dislike about India when you visit? Do you have plans of coming back to India permanently one day?
coffee_rules: At least once a year, before the pandemic. I even visited back in January this year. But from March lockdown, I am not sure when I will be able to visit. Earlier I used to visit twice a year also. Some family/work related reasons and some to take care of my mother who lives in Bengaluru.
I dislike people who don't care about how unaccountable they are. Attitudes from 80s still prevail. But being from Karnataka, we always say and think adjust-maadi, slip it under the rug and move on. I don't fight 'chalta hai' attitudes so much, but at times it gets on your nerves. I have changed a lot in US, I am sure I would have changed in India as well, but I find that 'chalta hai' attitude in Indians.
Moving back? Yes, as explained earlier, I think I will be happier in India despite all the ills. I have plans of retiring may be later in life, when kids are in college/jobs. I want to travel to Himalayas, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Rishikesh, Ayodhya after Ram Temple is built, Kashi, Rameshwaram, and North East as well. I don't want to go to Kashmir. May be Vaishnodevi and Amarnath once.
ICF: How did you come across ICF? Who are your favorite contributors on this forum?
coffee_rules: I was part of the parent ICF (Indian Cricket Fever) back during 2003 WC. That was an active forum with some of of them still here or may be not. Outy, Yoda, Dhondy, Gambit, BossBhai etc. There was Ganguly fan who spoilt it for the rest. She hated Dravid and Sachin. The moderators sided with her and when 2007 WC fiasco happened, all the discussions were only about Dravid vs Ganguly and most moved out to this ICF site. I was left back there as I didn't know they all moved here. After a while Dhondy sent a PM and told me about this site. Since then, I have been on this site, not very active, being on and off initially. I used to post as coffee_anon (a play on the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan), changed it to coffee_rules. Only since recent 5 or 6 years I have been very active.
I indulge with all posters, I follow most of the topics in 'Chit Chat', I used to do it in 'Cricket Talk' forum as well until the recent lockdown period started, I don't post there much. I used to follow old-timers like Gambit, BossBhai, Dadarocks, Lurker, Outy, Yoda. Nowadays, there are not many posters who regularly post, but Gollum, maniac, Mulo, Stradlater, Cricaddict, Tibarn, Alam Dar, etc are fun to follow. I will blindly read any post from velu, Mariyam and many more. Always itching for an interaction.
ICF: What are your earliest memories of cricket?
coffee_rules: Lots of them, but the earliest I distinctly remember was friends and family waking me up in the middle of the night to celebrate India's 1983 WC win. I was not old enough to follow the game, but the frenzy I remember. I also vaguely remember 1985 World Championship of Cricket win, with Ravi Shastri driving around in the Audi. It was flashed on TV and for kids it was pretty cool. My dad was a big follower of Karnataka cricket and used to hear anecdotes about GR Viswanath, Brijesh Patel, Gavaskar etc. My uncles have played with GRV, they talk about how down to earth he is. Came home from school to check on TV the Bangalore test when Gavaskar made 96 and India lost. It was the same feeling when Sachin got out in Chennai in 1999 against Pak.
More distinctly I have followed the game 1986 onwards. 1987 WC was phenomenal to follow. India being on top of world would beat all teams. But lost to England mainly Gooch who swept his way to the final. I was in the stadium in 1996 WC QF against Pakistan. Ajay Jadeja taking on Waqar in the end and Kumble too, was exhilarating to watch on the ground. Of course, the gaalis to Pakistani players who would come near the boundary made the mob go wild. Miandad's last game in India, bahut gaali pade usko. Tootak Tootak Tootiye, Miandad Choo..ya, was very common. Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Pakistan Murdabad were repeated in succession.
ICF: For making India a cricketing powerhouse purely in terms of performance on the field in all 3 formats, what drastic steps should be taken from top to bottom? Are you in favor of government exercising full control over BCCI?
coffee_rules: As Ravi Shastri says: India will have to bat well, bowl well and field well
Accountability is missing in Indian players, top to bottom. I still think as players not only physical skills, Indians lack mental conditioning. They need a good sports psychologist or a better experienced coach that the players respect, to toughen the players. It is laughed about, but we can't pick kids from U-19 teams and hope they do better. Even players like Kohli, Rohit Sharma do come up, but we have not won a WC with them too. After U-19 a couple of years of domestic conditioning is a must. Pujara had a couple of years of Ranji before he was selected to the national team. The issue is once in the national teams, they are acting like prima donnas who need preferential treatment. They demand a coach who is only patting their backs with a few well-dones or better-luck-next-times!
Given the two losses in NZ, the next time we play a test at home, all sins will be forgotten until we play in SENA again. No accountability, from players, the TM, selection committee, BCCI as well. WC loss was a colossal TM faux pas that was totally pardoned and now forgotten. TM doesn't have a clear direction with spin options - we have 4 major spin bowlers, but don't know how to use them. Also, with wicket-keepers, openers, team selection is a total mess. We need a change, I support Kohli for tests and Rohit for T20Is/ODIs. Get rid of Ravi Shastri, go with a professional coach who is held accountable. Ex-players can be used as coaches for special departments as well.
I am totally against Govt execs running BCCI. Indian bureaucracy is notorious for snooty babudom. They come with highhandedness and no experience in administration. I don’t know how the CoA fixed things that BCCI couldn’t fix before. I think there should be some government regulation on who all should be appointed as administrators, people with known accountable experience. What is wrong with other sports admins getting to manage BCCI? Ex-players who are in the system know how to fix it as well. I like the concept of paid selection committee which can be held responsible. They should do that to Ranji team selections as well.
ICF: Apart from Mumbai, it is Karnataka that has given India maximum number of high quality players, also dominating the domestic circuit now. What do you think is the reason behind such a rich cricket legacy?
coffee_rules: Mysore state had a rich cricket culture and hence a lot of people are interested in cricket. I think it all started pre-Independence as well. It was all in big cities which had access to facilities, training etc, that were developing players. Also, cricket culture comes from a fair bit of following as well as rivalries. In the South, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu/Hyderabad had a competitive rivalry, also players would play a lot in club cricket. Same is true for TN as well but Karnataka had some good selections initially starting from Kunderan, spin bowling pair Prasanna and Chandrasekhar, GR Vishy etc., and that favors selection of later players as well. Those coaches who got their players selected would be inspired to pick more such talent once they develop a keen eye for talent. A lot of players like David Johnson, Abhimanyu Mithun have failed as well at the national level. All through 80s, Karnataka had a healthy set of Ranji performers always knocking on national selection doors.
ICF: Who are your favorite fast bowlers from Karnataka, and from India? Why do you think Karnataka isn't producing international class bowlers now, something it was famous for in the past?
coffee_rules: Srinath of course, is naturally the favorite as I have seen him play. He did his Engg. from the same University as mine, a few years earlier. I was in my college team in the final year, but was a reserve, have played couple of matches. He was unplayable in and around 1994-97, maybe world's fastest bowler.
Zaheer Khan was a late bloomer, more talented than Srinath, and a fighter. Kapil Dev has a huge following throughout India, but I rate him as an all-rounder. Among present day quicks Bumrah is the best. What a dream to watch him live. There is nothing better than watching a great fast bowler making batsman jump. I feel Saini will reach the heights of Bumrah soon. I don't think Ishant deserves a place in the team , but in recent years he has done exceedingly well. Given so many chances, anybody would improve. Shami and Yadav are 'blow hot or cold' kind of bowlers.
Among Karnataka pacers, Dodda Ganesh attained some respect at Ranji level and has won couple of trophies for Karnataka. He used to bowl well, but not mentally tough. I guess Mithun too did well. I am not sure why Karnataka is not developing good fast bowlers anymore. Perhaps, there are no good coaches who spot talent at school level. Nowadays, even trundlers like Vinay Kumar do well in national level, so they are all after line and length and focus on control rather than pace.
ICF: Karnataka has produced many good cricketers but the great ones are: Prasanna, Chandrasekhar, Viswanath, Kirmani, Srinath, Kumble, Dravid. Pick your top 3 from this hallowed lot.
coffee_rules: Top 3 will be very cruel on all, I was never a big Dravid fan. His style of cricket was not exciting. Used to back him, but comparatively never minded if he failed.
My Top 3 would be:
Although Dravid has accomplished the most, his brand of cricket is not good to experience the sport. Viswanath played most of the time before me, so I have heard and read about him. Recently, somebody played videos of him hitting Lillee and Pascoe in the famous 1981 Melbourne test. He is a very special player for Karnataka, always cherished. Srinath and Kumble obvious other choices. Although, Prasanna did better in overseas conditions, still a record for India (NZ '67), Kumble was a khadoos player that Mumbai players are famous for.
ICF: What are your favorite cricket rivalries internationally as well as in domestics, IPL?
coffee_rules: IPL- I don't follow much, initial two seasons I followed every match of RCB, but I don't like the franchise sport business. I am still a country/state/region supporter, this American style or club cricket following is still not getting on me. It's like these kids talking about EPL/European Club Football, Chelsea/Man Utd/Barcelona - all stupid and showoffs. Also because RCB kept losing.
But since we talk of rivalries, I used to hate Mumbai and TN cricket teams in Ranji and hence that feeling comes back, I hate to see MI and CSK win any match. But unfortunately they are the only two teams winning IPL. This year, I will be rooting for KXIP or should I call it KXIKar as there are 6 players from my state in that team coached by Kumble.
Rivalries I enjoyed/enjoy:
Karnataka vs TN/Hyd, never liked Azharuddin scoring runs against Karnataka. Or even Srikkanth. We dominated TN in the 90s, Hyderabad lost its cream of players and is nowhere now.
India/Pakistan is the best rivalry for any Indian to follow. There is nothing that elates a day more than when India wins and Pakistan loses. Whenever Pakistan wins against any team, I get depressed. There is a special bond there. I saw the '96 WC QF at the stadium and that win was so exhilarating, special to this day, best day of my life.
Ashes is another great rivalry that matches Ind/Pak. Traditionally, I used to support England as I hate Aussie players, but of late I have been neutral. I like Warner, Smith and Lyon, so kind of feel bad when they lose in England.
India vs Sri Lanka for a period of 10 years was also very good: 1997-2010. They have never won in India, but we struggled to beat SL in SL in that period. Aravinda being the favorite, used to bat like Gavaskar. Jayasuriya was a menace and we struggled against Mendis. I think Murali chucked and he should not have been allowed to bowl for so long to get the record. Loved to watch Warne bowl, or for that matter all leg spinners are special. But since Kohli ravaged SL, it is no fun.
Also winning against Bangladesh's fake tigers is fun. I still watch the last over of WT20 match in India 2016 when they lost by 1 run and lost like 4 wkts in one over. It is so ROTFL worthy.
ICF: Can Team India win the World Test Championship if it qualifies and plays Australia in the final at Lord's?
coffee_rules: No, I hugely doubt. Even a mediocre SA or NZ team could defeat the strong Indian team at home. Unless the final is in India no.....it is very difficult to beat any team at Lord's. There is no doggedness in Indian batting. Opening is weak and young. Our main weakness is too much dependence on Pujara and Kohli. We need to find a better replacement for Rahane and soon. This NZ loss hurts a lot and the way they lost is very bad, with no will to fight. Mayank, Shaw, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Vihari, Pant, Jadeja, Shami, Ishant, Bumrah should be our XI.
ICF: Should India resume bilateral cricket with Pakistan and smash their team to pieces (thereby fixing the H2H) or should we avoid on moral/political/economic/security grounds?
coffee_rules: Although I would like to fix the H2H record, it is best to hurt them badly by not playing with them. Especially after 26/11 and the 2009 Lahore fiasco, it will best to cut all ties with Pak. What are we losing by not playing them? Instead, they are losing a lot of revenue and will be decimated in a few years time with no money for developing the sport in their country. We have the WC record and rivalries in SENA to look forward to. Instead, we should develop cricket in BD and make them a powerhouse.
ICF: What do you think are the main reasons RCB hasn't won a single IPL title yet?
coffee_rules: Mallya spoilt the team in the beginning by focusing too much on Kohli, Gayle and ABDV. We keep losing key matches as there is no focus on bowling and there is no focus on local talent. I have given up on Kohli, he can't win big matches as a captain, manhoos has a bad track record even in ICC tournaments in ODIS/T20s. RCB will win IPL the year he switches to Delhi Capitals. He will make them lowercase.
Everything that goes wrong for a team, goes wrong for RCB. Watson won IPL for Rajasthan, RCB got him in 2016 where he failed. He went to CSK next and won the IPL for them. Absolute WTFness! We are stuck with Chahal who gifts matches to all and sundry. The most painful to watch was Kolkata's Sunil Narine, a bowler pasting RCB as an opener. I ought to give up on RCB after that. I think it is Kohli's bad karma affecting RCB, rant over. It all started in the first match of IPL when McCullum gave a phainta as Shoaib Akhtar says, which RCB is not able to recover from even now.
ICF: Have you watched cricket live at the stadium? If so, your favorite game(s)?
coffee_rules: I have watched many matches - Ranji, ODIs and tests. I remember in the 90s, after college I used to go to Chinnaswamy stadium when there was a Ranji match or an international. I couldn't go to the 1987 Bangalore test where Gavaskar scored 96 as I couldn't skip school. But have watched a WC game in 1987 when India defeated NZ in a close game. Sidhu and Kapil had saved India there.
I had been to the game when Kapil Dev broke the record of Richard Hadlee's 425 wickets at Chinnaswamy against SL. Kapil Dev was at the brink and India was also winning. Kumble was bowling wides on purpose so that Kapil could get his wickets in the end. It was a memorable match.
Of course, the 1996 QF was my favorite game given the state of Indian cricket at that time. It was hugely inferior to Pakistan team. Wasim Akram sat out and they were not led by a good captain. Kumble going against Waqar in the end was a shocking treat in the stadium when it erupted with joy. When Sachin got out, we were all silent, but Sidhu saved the day. The high of the game was Venkatesh Prasad, the local boy getting pasted by the openers and then Aamer Sohail kept pointing fingers. We all started screaming and we could see all Indians were pumped up, when the stumps were rattled, we could see the whole stadium roaring. It was the moment of the game.
I had also seen the Titan Cup match in 1997 when Srinath and Kumble stitched a partnership in the end to win against Australia. They could bat at the big level. That is why the Chennai loss against Pak in 1999 hurts so much, even facking now. After Sachin got out, they just capitulated. It hurts more than the CT final in 2017 against Pak.
The most recent was in 2017, when I saw India beat Aus in Bengaluru. Rahul played very well with 2 50s, but India was able to win with some dogged performances by Pujara, Jadeja and Ashwin. Ishant Sharma and Yadav are very fast in a live game, I could not see the ball. When India set 188 for the last innings, we were pretty sure India would win. It was a difficult pitch by the 4th day. I had been to the game on Sat, Sun and Tue (last day of the match). Too much security when I went.
ICF: Did you play cricket growing up? Do you still play the sport actively? What is your speciality?
coffee_rules: I was in my school team in 10th standard. As I said earlier, I was in college team as well. But couldn't get much time in the middle. I have played as an all-rounder. Used to bowl military medium Amarnath style and lower order bat, could tonk a few runs. I played here in New Jersey till 2015 when I went to India. On and off on weekends in summer. Not a special player or anything. During 12th standard, we played a leather ball game with limited protective equipment. One pad only, got injured on my left leg which was already operated for ligament tear (scooter accident). Have bad knees now, I can't run fast.
ICF: Besides cricket what other sports do you follow and/or play? Your favorite team(s) and sportsperson(s) from outside the cricketing world?
coffee_rules: I have followed various sports. Olympics and Asian Games when it was on TV in the 90s. FIFA WC too, remember watching Maradona in 1986 WC. Not so much after 2002 when Brazil won in Yokohama. These days it is boring to watch soccer, with too many interruptions and no long passes. They fall for no reason.
Used to follow American sports. NBA (Utah Jazz was my favorite team), NFL (Giants and Packers). These days watch only the Super Bowl. Hard to sit and watch TV at a scheduled time.
Tennis also I used to watch a lot in the 90s. Edberg, Becker, Mats Wilander, Sampras. Agassi were regularly followed. I hated Ivan Lendl, but Agassi was a dream to watch. Not so much of a Sampras or Fed fan. I am Rafa Nadal fan, he plays the game very tough. I hope he gets the all time record and not Djokovic. Somehow don't like when Novak wins though he's playing like a dream. I play tennis and have taught kids. Not a fluent player, as I cannot run hard. Play it like table tennis.
I have also played TT at college and corporate level. Have won some games for TCS in India. I learnt it from 'Father D'Souza' in St. Joseph's in 10th std. Good person, he used to teach a bunch of kids.
ICF: How do you see India's future in sports (other than cricket) events on world stage? Climbing up the ladder consistently with more medals or just a spurt every now and then?
coffee_rules: I feel the sports culture is better in India now, a lot of facilities, stadiums opening up and parents sending kids to tennis, badminton etc. So there is hope for future. Back in the 90s, we had heard that they were spotting talent among adivasis, tribals in archery and other sports they were good at. None of that came through, I think sports administration is too corrupt and unaccountable in India. I feel India should focus on 2 or 3 sports and try to win as many medals - Take up badminton, wrestling and boxing. But it will always be here and there only, it will not be a great sporting nation. It is OK, we need not be like Russia or China, but we should do better than some of the smaller countries like Turkey, Iran etc.
ICF: What are your hobbies?
coffee_rules: I used to read a lot of books initially. Right throughout schooling and college. I have read a lot of books/novels in Kannada mainly. Kannada has a rich tradition of literature with maximum number of GnanaPeetha Prashasthi winners after Hindi. I still read, but mostly on and off. Nowadays spend time mostly reading blogs, articles, YouTube, internet, social media (mainly Twitter).
Play TT here, and tennis sometimes. My wife is a nature enthusiast, so, I get to go on a lot of hiking and camping with her group. Mostly in cabins. There is a lot of it even in India now. A lot of nature and fitness clubs, where young people are out venturing.
Into Poker since last year, local friends play once a month. Have only lost till now. They play big time, some days the pool runs till $600.
Movies/TV shows is my other passion. I have watched a lot of B grade moves (Like Gunda, Goli Soda etc.) to classics. In all languages, I love to watch movies with subtitles. I have got to give a shot to Korean movies that Gollum posts. I have watched only a couple of them, but that is my next to-do list. A big fan of Dilip Kumar (share the same last name!), Amitabh, Dev Anand, Vinod Khanna, Not much of Rajesh Khanna fan, only a few of his initial films I like to watch. I used to like SRK, Aamir in the 90s, but I lost it after Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. I hated that movie. It dumbed down Indian cinema more than any other movie. I used to watch all Aamir Khan movies until PK. I have stopped all mainstream movies now, after Sushant Singh Rajput's death I don't feel like watching even one.
ICF: Do you have some background in classical music? Vocals or Instrumental?
coffee_rules: My sister plays Carnatic classical Veena and sings Carnatic (she has passed Vidwat as well). I learnt Mridanga for a few months in school days. I stopped going after the Guru made me go do his groceries. I should have continued, shiksha paane ke liye guru seva ki jaroorat hai.
I wish I have the time now. I can play a little bit of Veena. Back in 2013-15, I ventured into learning Hindustani. I listen to it a lot and enjoy. After going to India and back, I have lost contact of the Guru, I need to push myself. Me and wife run a karaoke club in the locality with a lot of casual singing. Mostly old Hindi songs and Kannada.
ICF: What do you prefer, Nadaswaram or the Shehnai?
coffee_rules: As a musical instrument to listen to, it is Shehnai that is most soothing. Some of the Raags (Bhupali, Aahir Bhairav) are very good in Shehnai. Bismillah Khan is such a great artiste. I can listen to him any time of the day. I consider Nadaswaram only for special occasions like marriage and such events. I didn't develop a listening taste for it.
ICF: Hindustani vs Carnatic music, which one do you prefer especially for vocals? Your favorite exponents from these two schools, both male and female?
coffee_rules: I grew up in a Carnatic music family listening to music on a cassette player (National Panasonic 2-in-1). We didn't have a lot of money to buy cassettes. We got mixtape recordings or recorded from radio performances. But since 90s, from college, started listening to Hindustani, Ghazals, and all kinds of Western as well. Big fan of Ghazals - Jagjit Singh light ones, some Ghulam Ali. I am exploring Hindustani more now, as I like it more. But occasionally, I do go back and like listening to Dr. Balmuralikrishna, Yesudas, MS Subbulakshmi, ML Vasanthkumari, Lalgudi Jayaraman (Violin), Kadri Gopalnath (Saxophone), U Shrinivas (Mandolin) Bombay sisters, N Ramani (Flute), Unnikrishnan to name a few in Carnatic music.
I listen to AIR Bangalore online, a lot of new and young artistes are getting exposure. I hate fusion and avoid Coke Studio like plague.
In Hindustani too, from North Karnataka, there are quite a few artistes/musicians like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, GB Hangal, etc. who are very good especially in local literature - Purandara songs, Jaanpada, a huge library of music. I like Pandit Jasraj as well. Prefer morning ragas as it is great to start a day with a Bhairav/Bhoop/Bilahari and in Carnatic music prefer evening ragas like Poorvikalyani or Shanmukhapriya. The most pleasing is Darbari and Yaman for all occasions.
ICF: Why isn't Indian music popular globally? Compared to countries like USA, England, Sweden, Italy, Japan etc. Is there a weakness, has Bollywood corrupted our music scene or are we not marketing ourselves better?
coffee_rules: Good question. I have to research. I think Indian classical music is not packaged well for crossover. Even Western classical music has an ensemble of orchestra music, opera etc which has a niche following. Just like religion, we accept others to inspire themselves and follow us rather than proselytize people (my theory). There was an American artiste Jon B Higgins in the 80s, He had come to India and learnt Carnatic and used to perform in many concerts. Like that I think Indian classical music attracts a few outsiders.
It is not cool enough for young people or even in my generation, those who grew up in the 80s/90s prefer modern music over Indian classical. A symbol of modernity is attached to this fad/fashion. Nothing wrong, but this kind of music has so much value in terms of listening experience, it is akin to great electric guitar solo of a Slash or Metallica or Grunge Rock from Nirvana. Folk Rock is the best Western music that appeals to all.
But I don't think anybody is interested in marketing or increasing the reach of Indian classical music. They are happy with current following and don't want to compete for dough or following. A lot of Bengalis, Maharashtrians still encourage their kids to learn Hindustani while Karnataka, TN and AP families encourage Carnatic, but it fizzles out when the kids reach high school. Bollywood/movie Industry is the worst custodian of India classical music, they are the first ones to mock our classical music.
In Dil Chahta Hai. Farhan Akhtar thinks Opera music is great, they don't consider Indian music cool enough for their audience. Now, there is a proliferation of all Western music fads like K-pop, Auto-tuned nasal voices, etc. mixed into some old Hindi song...it is kitsch!!!
ICF: What is your favorite Indian classical dance form and why?
coffee_rules: I am not huge connoisseur of dance forms. It started with a discussion where @velu mocked some classical Bharatnatyam performance and I defended it as a classical art form, it doesn't deserve the mockery. They have started teasing me with clips of Sivaji Ganesan and some of his movies with somebody's caricaturish dance, very funny. But, I do like Bharatnatyam/Kuchipudi performances. With wife/daughter I do enjoy some dance performances and It is not boring. Some of the artistes are really good.
We live in a community where there is a competition of parents sponsoring Rangapravesha/Arangetram. It is a huge celebration like a marriage, they spend 50-60k $, get us as volunteers to do all hard work, also getting artistes from India and practice for a couple of months. I am not that interested, but still don't mind sitting through to understand some nuances. Kathak, I don't enjoy much as there is a lot of twirling and foot tapping to Taal, and not much expressions and hand gestures. Bharatnatyam has a lot of Shringaara Rasa, to show expressions or Bhaava to a lyrical description usually a Carnatic Raga based song.
ICF: Mysore Pak or Dharwad Pedha, pick one. What is your honest opinion about Bengali sweets?
coffee_rules: Mysore Pak always. I like the mix of besan, sugar, ghee and baked well to perfection - there is a milk version now, it facking just melts in your mouth. Dhardwad Pedha over Mathura version definitely. In Belgavi/Border Maharashtra, they make Kunda which is a better version of Pedha, milk based, but powdered like Halwa.
In Agra, I tried Petha, literally threw up. It is a lump of sugar, that's all with different flavors.
About Bengali sweets, it is a running gag, but I hate milk based sweets. It leaves a bad after taste of curdled milk or spoilt milk. I have never been to Kolkata, so maybe I need to try real authentic Bengali sweets. I know a Bengali family, they serve bad sweets. Home-made, but really bad. Hence. my judgement may be skewed. I like Sandesh the best of them, so, there you go.
But, my favorite even over Mysore Pak is Kesar Jalebi. I love it to bits. Especially, the fresh hot soft juicy ones.
ICF: What is your favorite cuisine?
coffee_rules: Cooking: Mughlai/Hyderabadi is the best food to cook. As a bachelor, I used to cook chicken as well. But, post-marriage it has been vegetarian. I can still make a mean Mirchi Ka Salan or Veg Pulao. There is nothing called Veg Biryani. UPites make something similar called Tehri. To eat and savor, I like special South Indian dishes - Bisibelebaath, Puliyogre, Kootu, Pineapple Gojju, different kinds of chutneys, Idli/Dosa/Curd Rice. I can't live a week without Rasam Rice. I can cook all of them at home.
I have tried all kinds of cuisine - Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Ethiopian, Afghani, Pakistani, Bengali, French, Malabar. Outside of comfort zone, I like Thai the best. I order them with level 5 spice. Those guys warn that it will be very spicy. I like a dish called Pad Kee Mao (stir-fried broad rice noodles), very tasty.
ICF: How do you prefer your coffee (instant, brewed, black, milk etc.), and your favorite variety?
coffee_rules: Fan of South Indian coffee. Filter coffee, with Chicory, milk only without sugar. I have never liked black coffee. We used to have a percolator while growing up, it had a unique taste, we have a coffee grinder and use fresh coffee beans. But these days, I do it occasionally when I invite somebody over. I like my K-cup Keurig coffee with some Arabica coffee from brand product Barista available online. Not a regular but like Cappuccinos (not Lattes), I had the best in France (Paris), they make the best coffee outside of India that is.
ICF: What is the best coffee place in Bengaluru? Your favorite pub in the city?
coffee_rules: There used to be an Indian Coffee House in MG Road. Not sure if it is still around, we used to go there for Masala Dosa and coffee. Had the best filter coffee. Also, I like the Darshinis - Upahara Darshini and Vidyarthi Bhavan in Basavanagudi. Not a fan of modern coffee chains - CoffeeDay or Barista (chain store). Expensive and not worthy. Just a big trend in India. Outside Starbucks in some mall, saw people lined up to get in. Instead they could enjoy a cup of filter coffee, much more relishing.
All the pubs, I used to go to are probably closed now. Underground on Residency road, also there used to be one on Church Street (Koshy's) which seems to be closed, The PubWorld on Residence Road is still there. I recently had been to Communiti on Residency road, the ambience was pretty good. The best beer is in Indiranagar - Toit Brewpub, they make their own crafted beer, had exquisite taste.
Otherwise, there are lots of pubs in every mall where @velu can pick up chicks as well
ICF: Chai with Garam Pakode/Bhajiya vs Dunkin Donut Coffee (or your favorite brand) with Hash Browns: pick only one winner.
coffee_rules: Pure desi boi in me will go for Chai with Indian fried snacks - any day. I don't even like Dunkin Coffee. Too light and not the way to drink coffee. Hash Browns are a poor man's Samosa, I yearn for Samosa whenever I have it.
ICF: Who is your favorite film director and why?
coffee_rules: If there is only one to choose, I will go with Martin Scorcese. He has attempted all genres of movies and has come on top. He is very versatile and the best in his trademark - gangster/mafia dramas. Although, Francis Ford Coppola did make it famous, that genre is owned by Martin Scorcese. He makes his characters believable and life-like. They speak normally like us and you can believe they are as mean as they come on the street.
I also like Ridley Scott, Clint Eastwood, Sam Mendes, Nolan, and many such directors. I am not a fan of David Lean, or even Hitchcock. They are outdated and not passing the time test.
ICF: Which is your favorite decade in Bollywood when it comes to (i) movies (ii) music?
coffee_rules: i) Movies - I think some of the best movies have come post-98 - till now, I think this is the best it can get. Bollywood is limited in reach, as they make with a specific elite formula and it seems like they have a typical audience in mind - South Bombay crowd. They can't get beyond that. Any biopic, drama they make, they have the cheesiest audience in mind. Tamil movies are the best in India, even better than Malayalam ones. Some of the new age directors are experimenting with various themes and action, it is in the best phase right now.
For nostalgia, I like 70s movies, with a naive sense of what society is - rich vs poor themes and songs in the park.
(ii) Music - As a fan of classical music, I will go with 60s as the best phase, we had so many music directors and lyricists who penned real meaningful songs. Even though, it was before my time, I envy not being a teen in the 60s, with riches of course. Life was beautiful then, I think. Sahir, Shakeel, Shailendra, Kaifi, Majrooh, Sampooran Singh Kalra etc. penned words for music directors like Roshan, SD Burman, Sardar Malik, Shankar-Jaikishan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Hemant Kumar, RD Burman. The best phase for Hindi film music. It is true for Kannada films as well. Apart from these two, I have also listened to a lot of Tamil music of Ilaiyaraaja's timeframe, not so much of AR Rahman. So not the best judge, I don't like technocrat music of Rahman.
ICF: Who are your favorite actors and actresses of all time?
coffee_rules: Listing some of the actors I like. It is hard to be precise, they have a decent body of work.
Indian - Dilip Kumar, Amitabh, Rajkumar (Karnataka), Shankar Nag, Anant Nag, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Mammooty, Mohanlal, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher (in serious roles), Madhubala, Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Vidya Balan, Lakshmi (South), Aarti/Kalpana (Karnataka), Sarita (Tamil), Soundarya (South), Shobana, Srividya
Non-Indian - Daniel Day Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Mel Gibson in action flicks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Audrey Hepburn, Demi Moore, Salma Hayek (woot), Renee Zellweger, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway
ICF: What are your favorite South Indian movies of all time?
coffee_rules: I grew up in Karnataka, so naturally I like 70s and 80s Kannada movies, but started watching Tamil/Telugu in the 90s, Malayalam these days.
Hamsageethe - a great novel by TR Subba Rao which was filmed by GV Iyer - Had the best Carnatic music from Dr. Balamuralikrishna, Great acting by Anant Nag. Kasturi Nivasa (Rajkumar) - he has played it unusually mellow without the overacting that actors like Sivaji Ganesan are famous for.
Nayakan - everybody acted so well in this larger than life epic and Mani's best work, only one I liked.
Aadukalam - Dhanush's best movie so far, he has acted really well and the direction of the movie is top-notch.
Malayalam - Mohanlal's 'Bharatham' with great music as well, KJ Yesudas won the National Award for his song - 'Rama Katha Ganalayam'.
Telugu - Shankarabharanam - K Vishwanath's best work and songs are immortal.
ICF: Your favorite historical character(s) from Ancient India, Medieval India and post-1857 India?
coffee_rules: Considering Ancient India's Itihaasa - Krishna is the best historical character, who has taught Dharma to millions of Hindus. But from western idea of history - Chanakya/Chandragupta Maurya's story is very inspiring to fight for one's identity/self-worth and what is righteousness. I don't know how Ashoka got the better deal in Modern India. Chandragupta Maurya's kingdom is supposed to have covered till Karnataka in the south and Kandahar in the north-west. It was he who had won all the battles and created the idea of larger kingdom needed for nation building, but Ashoka is given all credit by Marxist historians.
In Medieval India - Pinnacle of Vijayanagar empire - Krishnadevaraya is accepted by both Kannada and Telugu speaking people as the true king whose legacy is to be celebrated. The kingdom was founded to defeat the Islamic invaders/rulers of Medieval India. It was a true Hindu monarchy that was founded on the basis of Hindutva principles to protect Dharma, which was later an inspiration for Shivaji and the Peshwas/Marathas. Was tempted to name Suhel Dev here.
Modern India - I don't respect a lot of Congress leaders, as Congress was just an extension of the British colonialism to give the locals a sense of governance invented by the British. The most misunderstood, misrepresented leader - Veer Savarkar is my favorite character, followed by Sri Aurobindo. Savarkar was the first Indian leader to identify the mechanisms of Muslim leaders in wanting to break India into two. Even before Ambedkar, Savarkar had identified the evils of caste system and went to reform the Hindu society. I have read his recent biography by Vikram Sampath, a real scholarly work and an eye-opener. Wrongly identified as the one who inspired Godse to kill MK Gandhi. Sri Aurobindo who did get implicated as one of the violent freedom fighter later became a philosopher who explored the Dharma and it's true value. I have recently started to read about his work, quite amazing.
ICF: What is your understanding about Sanskrit's influence on South Indian languages?
coffee_rules: Large influence. Western Indologists say Sanskrit was the language for rituals, shloka, worship, literature, but common people didn't speak, hence it is dying. That is not true. Common people of that era spoke Prakrit which was an aadubhasha. Pali too is just a dialect of Sanskrit, historians are claiming it to be a different language than Sanskrit. Brahmi script is the oldest known script which is being connected to the pictorial representation of Sindu-Saraswati people. At that time of Sanskrit, people did business in Prakrit, the words and grammar is more than 75% made from Sanskrit. Marathi was born out of a strain of Prakrit called 'Maharashtri Prakrit' and has a lot of Kannada words, which is also from original Prakrit/Sanskrit.
There is a satire book written in Kannada by BGL Swamy - 'Tamilu Talegala Naduve' (Among Tamilian heads), he has made funny observations of Tamilians claiming Tamil as the oldest language, as old as Sanskrit. The fact is classical Tamil and Kannada are so different from modern versions, it is not the one and the same. Also, there are texts in Kannada as old as 6th century which have more than 90% of modern Kannada language, so it has been there for a long time, as early as 3rd century CE. Dr. R Nagaswamy, ASI Director and an Indian historian, has done a lot of detailed research on Tamil Sangam literature, and explained how many words in Tamil were borrowed from Sanskrit. Also, Tamil culture from that time is 100% Vedic culture, derails the whole Dravidian philosophy and politics. These scholars are not given importance, but a Christian evangelist from the 19th century Robert Caldwell is worshiped in TN. DMK has built a shrine for him in Marina beach. All South Indian languages have more than 50% words derived from Sanskrit and Malayalam probably has the most - 80%. I can understand Malayalam, just by relating it to the original Sanskrit words.
ICF: In your opinion, are NRIs a weak lobby for India? Why is there no rights based activism among Indians there, for say issues like the Bhopal Gas Tragedy where Union Carbide got away very lightly and there has been no semblance of justice?
coffee_rules: Indians have come to North America in different batches which are disjointed. Initially they were brought here for cultivating sugarcane plantations. Lived with Blacks but segregated, Punjabis migrated to California/Canada as early as 1890s or so. Also, from the 60s/70s, a lot of Gujjus came here from family-based chain migration, doctors too came to US in that period. And lastly more than 70% have come after 90s using the IT H1B boom.
So the migrants focus on economic development, getting good education for kids, living peacefully with very little involvement in public service/policy making. They don't have a sense of collective consciousness and feeling of belonging to India (my opinion) and they didn't believe in instilling that sense to their kids. The running joke here is that Indians hate India more than the whites/Americans (played even in an episode of Seinfeld).
Of late, a lot of Indian activism is limited to Ambedkarite movements funded by Dalit Christian organisations, they are highlighting the caste atrocities and calling out Hindus/Hindutva as fascists. A lot of woke college crowd is active in this circuit. Post 2014, we have the Hindu Jagrit crowd supporting Modi and his brand in USA. These are ones who come to Howdy Modi events and rally behind BJP. They also resist any activism done by Khalistanis/Kashmiris and have equal protest representation, which has leveled the field for India. But none of these people are into such social activism for getting justice for Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims that I know of. I would be interested in knowing if there are some. It is shameful that there is no work being done by NRIs in such activities.
ICF: Being an NRI, do you think a country needs to be inclusive and not play around with the social fabric? Do you think such instances have been rife in India?
coffee_rules: We don't need to learn about inclusiveness by being NRI. Indian civilization has been inclusive and plural for 1000s of years. The very essence of Rig Veda is to form a union of winning and losing tribes to honor the culture and philosophy of even the vanquished. No other modern civilization has such a precedent set. Countries are formed by bottom-up and not top-down. There will be mass movements based on identity - race, religion, language, culture etc. A nation which doesn't bond in terms of it's roots, will be lost and broken forever.
How is reconciling with a past which has been negated and distorted be called 'playing with social fabric'? If there were injustices done, for the greater good let such injustices be acknowledged. In the case of India, power was transferred from the Brits to Congress and we call it 'Independence of India'. There were nothing 'Indian' about that event. Most of the legislation for the bureaucracy, executive, judiciary was a continuation of the Indian Independence Act of 1935 passed in the British Parliament.
We became sort of 'Independent' when our so called 'Constitution of India' was ratified. It was passed in the Constituent Assembly without any referendum or people's vote. Bunch of Congressis and Brits sat down and formulated it and passed it in the assembly. Ambedkar didn't want to insert socialist in the preamble of the Indian Constitution.
There were no measures for the public to reconcile with past crimes, even in recent history when the nation was divided on the basis of religion and still being divided. If we don't learn from history, the mistakes will keep repeating and it is evident in places in India where the mistakes are repeated. We can't have a hurt majority be blind and silent and keep drinking the milk with eyes closed or keep our heads buried in the sand. Well, that was the expectation of Indians for 70+ years.
It has changed in 2014 and in 2019, where such narratives are defeated and it is being called as disruption of social fabric.
In order to move forward, we need to ratify a social policy where special treatment/representation to specific communities has to be avoided, accept a revised history where we acknowledge the mistakes of the so-called invaders and their discrimination of the majority community and move forward with the nation's interests only. No more talk of azaadi, breaking away, etc and it should be dealt with an iron hand.
All these issues come up because of a economic slowdown or resource crunch. If all people had jobs to do, if people in humanities had real jobs instead of inventing false outrages over some issues with no data or scientific research, we wouldn't face such debates. Too many jobless people in the public space.
ICF: How are BJP and Congress different when it comes to policies? Do you feel BJP is right wing?
coffee_rules: Yes and no, not so much in economic policies, BJP is unabashedly Hindu, there are no Muslim MPs in the 300+ representation in Lok Sabha. We don't see the PM cringe to attend Bhoomi Poojans of RJB, and he does Ganga Aarti when he wins an election. We can see even Congress trying to do soft Hindutva nowadays.
On social policies, it is conservative and RW, or we should call it Dharmic in essence. But they have done zilch in correcting some of the nation's mistakes in revising history, colonial education and redacting some of the laws related to temple control. We should see such policies in the future. It breathes socialism as much as Congress, so economically, it is not very different, still believing in red-tapism, babudom and PSU welfare culture. They are not able to divest Air India which is loss making all these years.
ICF: What is your take on joblessness/unemployment and state of Indian economy currently and predictions for post-COVID period? Will India use this situation to present itself on world stage or let the opportunity squander?
coffee_rules: I think India handled COVID better than most countries. For such a huge population to have such low numbers in terms of per-million population, and logistically to manage distribution to say 70% of the population is commendable, Yes, the poor were neglected and some of the rations given out have not reached them, but at least the measures were addressed, some of the work had to be distributed and not centralized, especially for situations like COVID.
There is a lot of unorganized employment in India, a Kirana shop owner employs say 5-6 people. I don't think that data is accounted anywhere. I feel we have not done a good job in capturing that data into the GDP. With the increase in investment in small and medium sector industries (MSME), I feel India could create a lot of jobs. Bangladesh and Cambodia have done a lot of good work in microfinance which can create a lot of jobs in the service sector.
There is always a talk of India becoming the third largest economy and those are all far-fetched. If we continue these socialistic economic policies, it becomes unimaginable. We will have to grow like 20% for the next 10 years to achieve that. The government needs to outsource some of the leadership outside (like they got Jaishankar), bring industry leaders into NITI Aayog and other bureaucratic levels to improve the industry. Most of the opportunities in manufacturing sectors were squandered in the last year. We need more push from the top. Most of the ministers are busy winning elections or buying MLAs to form state governments.
India's population is too huge and any tomtoming of GDP is only in the last 20 years. I hope we find new avenues of job growth, hence the changes in education policy and a change in people's attitudes towards the kinds of jobs is welcome, for an economically strong India to emerge.
ICF: What do you think about recent emergency procurement of weapons from Russia? Do you think they reflect lacklustre performance of the government when it comes to national security strategy?
coffee_rules: I am sorry, I am least educated in that area, I have not shown much interest. Our foreign policy has been a slave of Russian control from the 1940s and it is hard to shake them off. I thought Rafale was good disruption to go for a different maker from a different country and we can compete in the next generation warfare. A lot of experts are saying that the government is not having a clear policy moving forward.
ICF: Where do you stand on the India-Hindu Rashtra debate?
coffee_rules: The motto in the constitution is Satyamev Jayate. Where is that coming from? It is from a verse in the Upanishads. The majority of the country follows a passive version of Dharma, is tolerant and wants to move forward addressing more important issues. If this is not the ethos of a Hindu Rashtra what else is? I think whoever is opposing doesn't know, we already are a Hindu Rashtra. There is no point in debating.
This is purely in terms of inclusive culture and the collective spirit of the nation and nothing to do with religion. There is also no point in fighting for it. The opposition or even the majority will not allow the nation to be called a Hindu Rashtra in the 21st century. This should have been done by the leadership in 1947 when partition was agreed upon, we should have accepted the civilizational connection to Sanatana Dharma and included all religions culturally. America is a proud Christian nation, but culturally it is the most open society where there is freedom for everybody. Why is that frowned upon in India? But on our side, as long as social policies are formed based on these sentiments and we value the heritage, history while moving forward as a nation, what's in a name?
ICF: Do you think Yogi Adityanath is PM material?
coffee_rules: When Modi was being touted in 2013, the same question was asked. I had been to India and saw a rally on TV in Hyderabad where there was a sea of crowd and Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced and welcomed Modi as Bharat ke agle pradhanmantri and saw the crowd erupt, I knew he was PM material. If he looks like one, talks like one and acts like one, he will be. In the same mold, Yogi is 90% there. I feel he will be propped up as the next leader, the way opposition attacks him, it is very similar to Modi in 2010. So, the opposition will be responsible in making Yogi the next PM. In terms of public support, it is already there and most of the country is already talking him up.
ICF: Since this is garnering more spotlight of late in Karnataka, what is your position on the Hindi vs regional languages debate? Is Hindi imposition a genuine concern or are regional parties/outfits playing with fire for political mileage?
coffee_rules: I don't agree that the Kannada movement has garnered any momentum in Karnataka. Back in the 80s, there was a public outcry to implement the recommendations of Dr. Gokak. It was against the three language formula where Kannada as first langauge was reduced to optional. It lead to lot of students choosing Hindi or some other language as first language and completing HS education in Karnataka. The government changed the policy then to adopt the committee report. Since then, there have been other small Kannada chaluvalis (protests) where miscreants get trained politically and gain mileage. They also made Kannada boards mandatory in Karnataka, it was not so earlier. Now, corporates, MNCs have boards in Kannada prominently displayed. All this was ok. There has been no major agitation against any central 'Hindi' imposition as in TN.
Dravidian politics failed in Karnataka, most of the people know Hindi or at least are not against speaking. But in recent years, with the influx of North Indians or outsider population in Bengaluru, and with their f'all attitudes towards locals, bargaining/haggling rudely in their language, insulting people for talking to them in Kannada, people are hitting back. You will see reports where a youth was thrashed in a BTS bus for demanding to speak in Hindi.
Hindi is NOT the national language. It is the official language of communication of the Central government, apart from English, that’s all. Spoken by one third of population, don’t count people in Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab as they might know Hindi, but they prefer to develop their local language over Hindi and will not accept imposition.
The indifferent attitude of some North Indians displayed is causing resentment, especially when they see outsiders doing well economically. So, it is a power struggle. There was a protest in interior Karnataka when a bank's branch manager yelled at a local for not knowing the 'national language' Hindi. Banks need businesses of local people and look at the attitude of this manager to expect locals to know Hindi or English to come to the bank.
I have also met people in Bengaluru who have settled down since the 70s, not learning the language. They can still manage, because the locals will be decent enough to deal with them, but there is still a snotty attitude about the local language. Ramachandra Guha, the eminent historian has lived all his life in Bengaluru, I have never seen him speak in Kannada. I don't know why people are so stubborn living in a state which doesn't understand your language. I like Marwadis, Jains who learn the language of the locals so quickly and well. It's for business, I know, but there is no stubbornness on their part.
ICF: What are the areas where Modi sarkar has let you down?
coffee_rules: In a lot of areas concerning Hindus, it has let down a lot in the first term. The focus was vikas, and yes we understand. We got some of the election promises like Article 370, CAA, Ayodhya in our favor, so some of the sins are forgiven. But a lot of policies related to education, economics, demographic/population issues and secularistic laws affecting Hindus only - still need to be addressed. I was not happy before 2019, but since the general election victory GOI has lived up to its expectations initially and hopefully it should move the graph up.
They should focus less on state govt formations and more on federal policies. States keep flipping governments every 5 years, so no point in focusing energies there.
I think the economic slump in 2019 is inexcusable, India is not a world leader, but here we are touting the 5th largest economy tag all along. They let the opportunities slip away, but are hoodwinking the public about soft power of Yoga and Bollywood. Total BS.
ICF: What do you have to say about charges of anti-TN/Tamil stance leveled at you here on ICF?
coffee_rules: I have to come clean and I have been misrepresented. You might have caught me dissing the anti-Hindu/Brahmin/Hindi politics of Dravidian/Dumeels more often. But, I have a lot of respect for TNers and most of my friends are Tamilians. I have grown up with inter-state rivalries where Karnataka and Tamil Nadu teams competed for the one or two places for the KOs. So a lot of banter is coming from that. Tamilians are derogatorily referred to as Kongas in Bengaluru. Kongu in Kannada means crazy, not sure of the root word. I know a part of TN is also named Kongu Nadu.
I have had many Hebbar Iyengar, Sanketis, Iyer friends who have dissed Dravidian politics of Periyar, Anna and Karunanidhi. They are the reason a lot of Brahmins have migrated to neighboring states. Also reading Arvind Neelakantan's book Breaking India (co-author Rajiv Malhotra) and following his tweets and talks, it accounts TN as a hotbed for Christian evangelical organisations that meddle in government policies and even control fisheries and some industries like chemical/nuclear power plants setting up in TN. There is a lot of politics that they dabble in, with the Tamil identity. Read about Lemuria where they have invented a whole submerged part of the Indian Ocean believing they originate from there. I mock such ideologies. It really hurts India and is seditious. Plus the politics of SL Tamils which is a humanitarian crisis, sad that India gave up on them, not all were LTTE supporters but there were a lot of LTTE sympathizers in DMK.
I have seen a lot of Tamil movies and like Ilaiyaraaja's music. I am told this Dravidian politics is only fringe and not mainstream. I hope it stays that way. One day I hope to visit Kanchi, Madurai and Dakshina Kashi (Rameshwaram). They are the holy sites for all Hindus.
ICF: If you could make some changes on ICF, what would they be?
coffee_rules: I am not sure why people move on from here and where they go. Most of those who started the site don't post here. It's just a place where you can come and talk/interact freely. Maybe we need to interview one person who has moved on to understand how to hold on to posters. I like it here because of the openness for discussion, while the other side has literally vanished now. Maybe the chat session should be activated, so that people online can chat as well.