Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

51. Andhra Flavor

One of my hobbies is to visit places, whose names I cannot pronounce. On Wednesday, I was at Chadhamutthyreddygudem.

Can you pronounce it is one breath? I tried and failed. My team smiled. They told me that I could just say ‘CMRGudem’ – that is the name in daily use.

Great. We Indians are intelligent enough to derive such names that no one can easily utter. However we are practical enough to draw short forms, so that life is not difficult. I liked it.

You know, I keep on withdrawing from so many things, that I must add new things to my life. Otherwise my mind would be a big vacuum. So, when the opportunity to visit Andhra Pradesh came, I was happy to take it. Actually, I have been through Andhra Pradesh a number of times. Once my field area was in Karnataka, the guest house where we stayed was in Karnataka but for food we went to a small village in Andhra Pradesh. But I had never really stayed in Andhra Pradesh.

The visit began in an utter confusion. For more than one month, I was communicating with my team, and they were not telling me the name of the hotel where I was supposed to stay in Hyderabad. My train was at 4.30 in the afternoon, and till 2.30 I did not know where to reach. Finally I could make my colleague to tell me the name of the hotel and I started my journey.

I was told to get down at Nampalli station. But my Pune colleague found no such station on internet. I asked couple of passengers in the compartment and was told that Hyderabad Decan and Nampalli station are the same. If someone wants to go to Boribandar in Mumbai, s/he will get only a ticket for CST … it was like that.
Early next morning, I woke up with red glowing Sun on the horizon. It was very freshening.

Next day I went to a place, which everybody called Bhongir. I did not know what it meant. In the evening I saw a fort on a huge rock and also the name BHONAGIR. I was wondering that the name has something to do with a fort of a king. I come to my room in the hotel in the evening and my mobile shows ‘Bhuvangiri’. Ah! Now I can make the connection. This was a famous fort city of some historical (how ancient I don’t know) king.

I hardly understand Telugu. I know only one sentence in many Indian languages. ‘Tamil Teriyaad’ in Tamil, ‘Kannad mataad tumbaa kashtam’ in Kannada, ‘Mane Gujarathi nathi aawade’ in Gujarathi, ‘Aami Baanglaa bolbe naa’ in Bengali… all these meaning ‘I do not know the language’. I picked similar statement ‘Telugu nadu’, which was the only thing I could say to people around me.

But when you don’t understand the language, the situation is very funny. I still keep eye contact with the speaker and try to pick up few words which keep on repeating in various conversations. After doing it for few hours, the language appears to be making some sense. Some people try to speak to you, even when they know that you don’t understand the language. But some are more practical. Half the people I met did not at all look at me but looked only at my colleague who was translating. And when he translated to me, they looked at me to know whether I followed. But in these circumstances body language works much better. For example one woman was sharing her experience of how she faced various difficulties especially men’s response to her work. She took her left hand towards left ear and took her right hand away from her right ear. I could easily interpret it as ‘I do not pay attention to what people say’. She was absolutely delighted that I could understand her properly.
I visited four five villages, talked to many people through translator – a Kannada speaking young man who has learnt Telugu and can speak Hindi – tested Andhra meals, tried to read headlines in Telugu newspaper and smiled to hundreds of people – on the bus stand, in the bus, in the field, in the hotel, at the tea stall, at the temple….We wanted to talk to each other, but couldn’t. I was sorry for that.

Suddenly it rained. We stopped the bikes and went under a tree. We all were getting wet. But a local farmer was enjoying his bidee with a local umbrella. That is traditional knowledge. And do you see ‘More’ carry bag with him? That is modernity. Farmer combines these two in his/her life.

I am happy that my life has Andhra Flavor now. It is something different.


  1. Seems like you have an interesting job at hand. the Andhra flavour cannot be fully had without the curry !

    I hope you've had a taste of that too !

  2. Yes I tested and consumed a lot of curry too!


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